Wes Watkins, center, and his band The Other Black performed at Lincoln's Road House Thursday night, April 10, 2014. Watkins and his back the Other Black plan on playing on 4/20 in Denver. (Karl Gehring, The Denver Post)

4/20 in Denver: The rise of a new entertainment holiday

(Story continued)

Castro hopes to cover three shows on 4/20 weekend, including Wyclef Jean at Civic Center’s 420 Rally, Method & Red at Cervantes and Snoop at either Red Rocks or the Gothic Theatre. For many of these artists, coming to Colorado on 4/20 is a no-brainer, Castro said, because Colorado is now a year-round buzzword in the pot-friendly hip-hopsphere.

“I was at South by Southwest (in Austin) in March and Snoop shouted out to Colorado from the stage,” Castro said, “and I watched the Coachella (festival) live stream last week and Andre 3000 from OutKast also shouted out to Colorado and Seattle and Amsterdam.”

A very local example of 4/20’s growing presence: At least four entirely new music festivals will take over Denver parks and clubs this weekend — from Daze on the Green to Festival 64, Dabroots to Waldos Music Festival — debuting this year in hopes of capturing an audience and potentially returning next year.

Colorado culture: Where else can you visit a traveling cannabis museum?

Another example: In 2013, Red Rocks hosted its first-ever 4/20 concert with Cypress Hill and Slightly Stoopid. They called it “Hotbox at Red Rocks,” co-opting a popular stoner term for getting stoned in an enclosed space, and the show sold out. This year the mountain amphitheater will host two sold-out shows on April 19 and 20 — not to mention the venue’s annual Easter Sunrise Service on the morning of the 20th.

“There’s an underlying theme going on (in those concerts), but for us it’s another couple concerts,” said Tad Bowman, Red Rocks’ venue director. “I’m excited that we have a show on Saturday night, Easter Sunrise Service on Sunday morning and another show on Sunday night — regardless of the shows’ theme.”

Like the annual Winter on the Rocks concert, which takes over a snow-dusted Red Rocks in the dead of winter each January/February, 4/20 is helping add more shows to the amphitheater’s already crowded annual calendar. If next year’s 4/20 had three or four shows booked at Red Rocks, few would be surprised.

The biggest 4/20 events in Colorado are the 420 Rally at Civic Center and the Cannabis Cup, a sprawling trade show for all things marijuana at the Denver Mart. Both events run April 19-20, and both are pumping more money into their 2014 music offerings than years past.

“When you look at the world, every time there’s a revolution it comes from a different place,” said hip-hop/reggae artist Wyclef Jean, who is headlining the Civic Center rally. “Weed being legalized in Colorado is important because it sends a message to the rest of the country to get on the boat.”

Entertainment: Smoke DZA talks Wiz, OG Kush and taking on Red Rocks with Snoop on 4/20

Both Red Rocks shows are tied to the Cannabis Cup, which sold out last week and is expecting more than 37,000 people over two days, as is their Friday-night show with Ice Cube and Action Bronson.

“There’s more entertainment going on this year in Colorado than past 4/20s,” said Jen Bernstein, managing editor of High Times magazine, which presents the Cannabis Cup. “And if you can’t get a ticket to the Cup, there’s plenty else happening.

“If I wasn’t at my own event I would definitely see Leftover Salmon outside of Cervantes; They’re playing with members of Little Feat. And after our event on 4/20 I’m heading over to the Fillmore to celebrate Passover with Matisyahu.”

Matisyahu is headlining the much-hyped Waldos Music Fest on April 20th, an event prominently sponsored by marijuana companies Dixie Elixirs and Native Roots Apothecary. The expansion of 4/20 was part of what inspired Dixie managing director Tripp Keeber to create event production company Munch & Company, which is producing the Waldos festival and other events this weekend.

“There are all of these aspects in this (cannabis) industry related to entertainment, and the entertainment industry doesn’t know how to involve themselves with our industry,” Keeber said. “So I think Munch & Company will really be a great instrument to bridge that gap.

“We’ve been approached by half a dozen music festivals around the country where they’ll have Jack Daniels, Marlboro and now they’re specifically reaching out to Dixie — not for retail sales at their event but for brand awareness.”

Video: Nix Bros. serve up stoney Colorado satire on Funny or Die (video)

In some cases, the marijuana holiday can be overwhelming, said High Times’ Simunek.

“4/20 being an entertainment industry date now, High Times gets so many e-mails about mixtapes, albums, books, movies, new websites — all of these things coming out on 4/20,” Simunek said. “It gets to be a bit much almost. There’s so much going on that, even with a giant net, you can’t catch it all.”

But for Denver musician Watkins, whose Other Black will headline an Easter brunch show at the Larimer Lounge on 4/20, it remains a sacred day for his art and his family.

“We’re musicians,” Watkins said, “and all our friends are stoners. But at the same time this Easter show will be the first time my grandma will have seen me play since high school.

“It’ll be an interesting combination of cultures, older and younger, and it’ll force some people to get over their biases, which is what I’m all about. My grandma is like, ‘Weed smokers, blah blah.’ But I smoke weed every day, and she still loves me. So she and her friends will be at our show with their Sunday hats, and I’m excited to hang out with her on 4/20.”

Ricardo Baca: 303-954-1394, rbaca@denverpost.com or twitter.com/bruvs

Denver Post staff writer Matt Miller contributed to this report

This story was first published on DenverPost.com