Brothers Kevin and Sam can remember attending the Blues-N-BBQ for Better Housing Festival for most of their lives. Their dad and step-mom, Ranger and Dot, are hosts of the festival and decades-long supporters of Habitat Metro Denver.
Over their 25+ years of partnership with Habitat, the family has combined their love of music with a passion for service to imagine, build, and run the powerhouse annual music festival that raises money and support for Habitat affordable housing programs.
The annual Blues-N-BBQ festival attracts bands and music lovers from across the region. “People come for the music, stay for the food, and hopefully leave with some knowledge of Habitat for Humanity and how to give back,” says Ranger.
Today, the Blues-N-BBQ festival has become a true family affair, with second-generation hosts Kevin and Sam wearing many hats – from setup and sound checks to playing music and serving food.
“We are the roadies and the band,” said Kevin with a laugh.
Left to right: Ranger, Kevin and Sam Miller.
“Since they were strong enough to carry a table, my sons have worked the festival from set up to clean up. They’re my MVPs!” says Ranger.
During the festival’s music acts, Kevin and Sam have played bass and guitar alongside Ranger and his band, the Duke Street Kings. Each of the two sons have also recruited their own bands to join the festival.
Sam’s band, Wild Love Tigress, has performed 8 times at Blues-N-BBQ. And now, as Sam and Kevin step into leadership at the event, Sam hopes to leverage the soulful sound of his band to attract other up-and-coming soul bands to the Blues-N-BBQ stage.
“Each year of the festival, we have had different genres – one year we had all classic rock tribute bands, and another year we focused on all-female groups,” Ranger recalls. “It’s important to keep it fresh and keep young people involved”
“I’m hoping that as we get a lot of local bands involved, we could rope in a national headliner in a few years,” Sam said.
The hosts and sponsors of the festival also volunteer together on a Habitat construction site each year. For Ranger, it’s important that the event helps connect new community members to Habitat’s mission.
“For a few years, we sponsored a full house – often a critical home repair. Some years, we’d spend up to five volunteer days at one house and really get to know the family. That’s been great.”
Ranger describes that the Blues-N-BBQ crew got so close to one home repair family that they were all invited to the teen daughter’s Quinceanera. And Habitat staff have even come over to Ranger and Dot’s house to help them with some of their own home repair projects.
The festival, Ranger says, is the epicenter of it all.
“It’s my favorite day of the year,” he says.
“We’ve worked on a bunch of Habitat sites over the years, and we love working with the team,” says Kevin. “It’s fun and rewarding.”
As Blues-N-BBQ has grown from a small silent auction to a blockbuster festival, it has also grown into a multi-generational, family affair for Ranger and his sons. And they’re excited for the event to continue to grow – and continue to support Habitat’s work in the community.
To date, the Blues-N-BBQ festival has raised over $500,000 for Habitat’s homeownership and home repair programs.
Date: Saturday, July 15th, 2023
Time: 11 am – 8 pm
Location: Citizens Park, 24th Avenue and Chase Street, Edgewater, Colorado