Telluride Bluegrass Fest | 06.21 - 06.24 | CO

Drew Emmitt & Sam Bush with Leftover Salmon - Telluride Bluegrass Festival 2007
Saturday Highlights

Saturday June 23, 2007 made history as it was officially proclaimed Colorado Bluegrass Day by Colorado Governor Bill Ritter. The gubernatorial proclamation was read to the cheering audience by a member of Colorado's Department of Energy and included the following language:

YMSB - Tride 2007
"WHEREAS, the Telluride Bluegrass Festival is powered entirely by renewable energy, offsetting 100 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions created by the traveling attendees of the concert... and WHEREAS, Planet Bluegrass has exerted countless hours and immeasurable efforts to create a unique, environmentally friendly festival in a naturally beautiful location, not only for the people of Colorado, but for those that have traveled from across the country and from other nations... The State of Colorado appreciates the tireless work of Planet Bluegrass to protect and sustain the environment, while giving the people of Colorado an incredible celebration to attend."

Sixteen-year-old mandolin and guitar player Sarah Jarosz put in her first ever performance as a main stage headliner with the help of Mike Marshall (mandolin) and cellist Ben Sollee (Otis Taylor). Jarosz, who has been a guest of David Grisman, Peter Rowan, Tim O'Brien and others, displayed her rapidly maturing songwriting abilities and instrumental prowess on a variety of tunes including a version of "Shankhill Butchers" by The Decemberists. She'll be back.

YMSB - Tride 2007
Hot off their Wednesday and Friday Nightgrass gigs in town, the Yonder Mountain String Band took the main stage on Saturday and showed everyone what jamgrass is all about. Of particular note was a super-charged combination of "King Ebenezer" > "Peace Of Mind" > "Follow Me Down To The Riverside" > "Peace Of Mind" that launched the crowd into orbit. Tevas pounded dust, hoops twirled madly and straw hats bobbed feverishly as both band and audience plunged deep into the festival zone. The band included Darol Anger, its unofficial fifth member, and a visit from Futureman (on the cajón) during "Fingerprint." YMSB continues to amaze and astound.

The Sam Bush Band brought it all home with a very danceable version of Bob Marley's "Jammin'" that segued into "Stingray," a tune of off of Bush's 1996's release Glamour and Grits, and hot renditions of some or his more recent work, including "Ridin' That Bluegrass Train" and "Bringin' in the Georgia Mail" (both from his 2006 release Laps in Severn). As usual, Bush had lots of guests onstage, from Emmylou Harris on a nice "Walls of Time" to a massive clusterpluck comprising Chris Thile, Mike Marshall, Jerry Douglas, Luke Bulla, Casey Driesen, Jeff Coffin, Steve Berlin (Los Lobos), Emmylou Harris, Edgar Meyer, Darol Anger, Noam Pickelny and Rushad Eggleston that polished off the set with traditional favorite "The Wabash Cannonball." Bush is known as the king of Telluride and year after year he continues to earn his title. Bush first appeared on stage in Telluride in 1975 when Newgrass Revival came to play at the first official version of the festival.

NOLA Social Club :: Tride 2007
The much-anticipated New Orleans Social Club, featuring Raymond Weber, George Porter Jr., Leo Nocentelli, Henry Butler and Ivan Neville, put down some seriously funky grooves, which is what you get when the band boasts members of The Meters and the Neville Brothers as well as other veteran Crescent City musicians. The set included spicy versions of "Big Chief," "Loving You Is On My Mind," and "Talking 'Bout New Orleans." The group closed the evening with a version of CCR's "Fortunate Son" that had the Saturday night crowd whooping, hollering and enjoying the diverse musical offerings of a "bluegrass" festival. Seeing Henry Butler walking around Telluride in a very funky maroon suit and taking the time to stop and chat with his fans was yet another priceless festival moment.

Sunday Highlights

Austin & Emmitt - Leftover Salmon :: Tride 2007
Perhaps the biggest buzz of the weekend was the reunion of Drew Emmitt and Vince Herman along with Noam Pickelny, Greg Garrison and Jeff Sipe. The set was listed as Drew Emmitt, Vince Herman and Friends, but the lineup indicated otherwise. As Jeff Austin said when introducing the group, "I don't care what the program says. I think we all know what's going on. Without these guys we wouldn't be here. Please welcome Leftover Salmon!" Laying into rocking versions of "Breaking Through," "Unplug That Telephone," "Euphoria" and other classic fish fare, the group played an inspired set that felt like the band had never been on "hiatus" at all. Clearly enjoying themselves, Herman asked the audience a rhetorical question, "Has this been the best Telluride Bluegrass Festival ever or what!?" And what would a Salmon reunion be without a little help from Sam Bush, John Cowan, Jeff Coffin, Andy Hall, Tyler Grant and Jeff Austin. The upbeat set was the perfect warm-up for the rest of Leftover Salmon's summer shows.

The pairing of jazz-fusion pioneer Chick Corea and Bela Fleck made for perfect Sunday evening music. With Corea demonstrating decades of jazz chops on the piano and Fleck deftly manipulating the banjo, these two masters of their instruments pushed at the edges of genre and composition and beyond as audience members moved up close to get a look at the two legends at work.

Rice & Krauss :: Tride 2007
The festival closed with a performance by Alison Krauss and Union Station. What more can you say about an artist that had her first record deal at 13, has sold more than 8 million recordings and has 20 Grammy Awards to her name? Well, she puts on a damn good show. Some might call it the best show in bluegrass. With her unparalleled vocals and hit songs ("When You Say Nothing At All," the cover of Bad Company's "Oh Atlanta," "Every Time You Say Goodbye"), Dan Tyminski's vocals (remember "Man of Constant Sorrow" from the O' Brother soundtrack?) and guitar and mandolin work, Jerry Douglas on dobro, Barry Bales on bass, Jim White on drums, Steve Cox on keys and Ron Block on banjo and guitar, the band can rip it up or bring it down, depending on the tune. They did all of the above before bringing the 34th edition of the festival to a warm close.

Some Notable 'Tweeners

Rushad Eggleston and Ben Sollee on dueling cellos, Mike Marshall playing Bach's "Chaconne" on mandolin and flat picking guitar rippers Bryan Sutton and Chris Eldridge taking on the music of Tony Rice.

Some Nightgrass Highlights

John Cowan, Drew Emmitt and Friends
At the Sheridan Opera House on Saturday night:

Great American Taxi with Austin :: Tride Nightgrass
This show pulled in a wide variety of talent, mixing jam rock with bluegrass. Emmitt torched up the mandolin and guitar with a little help from versatile guitarist Tyler Grant and the quiet thunder of Cowan's bass. The evening hit its peak when Vince Herman stepped on stage towards the end of the show. Herman demonstrated how to thoroughly ignite an audience, while simultaneously creating and conducting (on his knees at one point) incredibly rocking music with assistance from the blazing horns of Flecktone Jeff Coffin and Steve Berlin of Los Lobos. Herman's crazed visit with Emmitt and Cowan was just a preview of what was to come the following day in Town Park.

Great American Taxi at Fly Me to the Moon Saloon on Sunday Night:
For those who didn't get enough Herman during the Salmon set, GAT, in what appears to be a new Telluride tradition, put on a high energy Sunday night show at the Moon that mixed its infectious rock and bluegrass based originals with a liberal sprinkling of funk, hip-hop, surf, reggae and ska. The Taxi shook the old saloon for a second year in a row to a frenzied audience. The band is rounded out by Jake Coffin on drums (check him out for a lesson on how to keep mad time while staying in shtick), Jefferson Hamer on guitar and Chad Staehly on keys. One of the high points of the evening was when Jeff "Marge" Austin appeared in a curly blue wig and proceeded to crank up the festival craziness by adding his crazed licks to songs including "Lumpy, Bean, Pole and Dirt."

Bela Fleck & Chick Corea - Telluride Bluegrass Festival 2007
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Promontory Rider Fri 7/27/2007 04:58PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Promontory Rider

Best Salmon set in years
Love tride
Undabo Jack!!!

RothburyWithCheese starstarstarstarstar Fri 7/27/2007 08:18PM
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Man I wish i had gone to this. Leftover--Yonder--nuff said!

Mason starstarstarstarstar Fri 7/27/2007 08:31PM
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So I've been to this festival for the past four years, but this year I made the tough decision to see Panic at Red Rocks instead (unfortunately they were both on the same weekend). I had fun indeed, but I really think I made the wrong decision... This festival is truly something special.

Minnasoda starstarstarstarstar Fri 7/27/2007 11:15PM
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Nice review Nick, Great pics Tobin, as usual. Very nice job

Weezer starstarstarstarstar Sat 7/28/2007 12:58AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

It gets better every year!

iamkickinit Sat 7/28/2007 06:58AM
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looks like a blast... but c'mon, no mention at all of Greensky?! I know they played an early set, but they are THE up and coming bluegrass band. show some love!

EVILFUNK starstarstarstarstar Sat 7/28/2007 01:56PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!



acomma Sat 7/28/2007 02:20PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


i need to move to colorado.

RothburyWithCheese starstarstarstarstar Sun 7/29/2007 07:10AM
Show -7 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
Sueshi starstarstarstarstar Sun 7/29/2007 10:08AM
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Beautiful photos, Tobin! And a wonderful read, Nick. Good job!

berou starstarstarstar Sun 7/29/2007 10:47AM
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Nice overall summary. There were a couple of incredible Zeppelin highlights:

1) John Cowan singing an authentic Going to California.
2) Byron House, Sam Bush's bass player, absolutely destroying Whole Lotta Love - this could be the only song moment that topped Los Lobos' Bertha. Sam teased us by playing The Ice Caps are Melting before moving into Whole Lotta Love. Incredible!!!!!!!!

Weezer starstarstarstarstar Sun 7/29/2007 01:05PM
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How 'bout Byron's bass work on Boogie on Reggae Woman?!! He can seriously bring it. Sam's band was in a good groove this year.

guitardave starstarstarstarstar Mon 7/30/2007 11:48AM
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Sam Bush rocks. They did "Whole Lotta Love" at Greyfox, too and blew the mountain down.

matttroche Mon 7/30/2007 12:09PM
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Allison Krauss is a certified badass in my opinion. That los lobos show sounds wicked!

producerfun starstarstarstar Tue 7/31/2007 03:00AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


The music was great. THE DIRT and DUST and crowd conditions were THE WORST. Won't be going back and won't miss listening to all the locals complain about bluegrass, festivarians and the same old sets (yawn). After 20 plus years of being a festivarian, loving the box canyon, the music and crowd, I am done. My money is better spent in Lyons where the music is just as good, the crowd is kinder and not treated with such disdain by the residents. Plus it often rains so breathing is actually possible.
Hopefully the kind folks of Telluride and the owners/producers of Planet Bluegrass will be able to find a place in their hearts to get along with so we (the folks caught in between their mutual graceless behavior) won't have to suffer. Till then, RockyGrass will do just fine and I'll stream KOTO next June and send them more financial support. Thanks for the memories!