01/05/15 at 03:10 PM by Staci Bradbury

The writing cabin at Dean Dillon’s ranch in Gunnison, Colorado only has one rule: there are no rules.

That’s where he’s penned songs with the biggest names in the country music industry, some of whom will descend on Crested Butte in mid-January for the Mountain High Music Festival.

Originally founded with just a small group of songwriters, this year’s festival will feature Country Music Award winners and Grammy nominees like Lee Brice and Thompson Square.

“The shows will be up close and personal,” Dillon said. “You can’t get that anywhere else.”

The small-town setting offers audiences the chance to absorb intimate performances, and gives the musicians a chance to relax in the Rocky Mountain playground.

Tim Gates, a member of country vocal trio Due West, remembers laughing over hot cocoa last year one afternoon during the festival as fellow band member Brad Hull had to call ski patrol for a lift off a double black diamond run on Mt. Crested Butte.

“He was just rolling down the hill,” Gates recalled, chuckling, placing the blame on the third band member, Matt Lopez, for taking him up too high.

The group has had their share of time in the writing cabin, penning several songs off their recent Christmas album with Dillon against the background of snow-topped peaks.

“I was blown away by the beauty of Crested Butte,” Gates said. And he’s not alone. As “an old cowboy man that’s laid back and quiet,” Dillon too relishes the region.

“We have such a special place here, that I want to have special things here too,” he said. “We want to provide a great music festival for people who love music in this area, but it’s not just that — we’re helping two great nonprofits raise money as well.”

The event will benefit the Adaptive Sports Center, supporting their mission to provide exceptional outdoor adventure activities for people with disabilities.  

“I’ve sat on the mountain and watched what Adaptive does — I’ve been blown away by them,” Dillon said. “I want to see the Adaptive Sports Center reach their goals.”

To buy tickets for the Mountain High Music Festival, visit their website


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