What can you say about Tony Rice and Bryan Sutton? As the assembled audience dropped a collective jaw to the ground, these two masters of the acoustic guitar bounced their legendary lines back and forth. On tunes such as the Bill Monroe-composed "Gold Rush," they traded off lead and rhythm duties just like breathing. "We're going to noodle on this tune. That's a term I first heard from Jerry Garcia," Rice said, before playing his tune "Manzanita."

YMSB :: Telluride Bluegrass Festival 2006
Yonder Mountain String Band's set wasn't as impressive as its all-star-packed high-energy outing in Town Park last year, but you can't go wrong with this band and they did play their radio hit "How 'Bout You" off of the band's self-titled new release (which has hit the #1 position on the Billboard Bluegrass charts). They might have been a little tired from their blazing performance at the Sheridan on Friday night (see below), but from the smiles on the faces of the people packing the park, they more than entertained everyone and helped the audience forget about the blazing sun.

Sam Bush was happy to be back after a Friday night scare. As it turned out, Sam had not had a heart attack as rumored, but does have a heart virus for which he is now taking medication. Suffice it to say, the man was back on the stage, unbelievably, on Saturday following a trip to the hospital in nearby Montrose on Friday night.

Sam Bush
Telluride Bluegrass Festival 2006
"When you're 54 years old and you experience sharp pains in your chest, you wanna be sure there's nothing wrong," Bush told the Saturday crowd in an effort to quash any rumors. "Lemme tell ya, there's nothing like riding in the back of an ambulance while listening to the Telluride Bluegrass Festival on KOTO and hearing Bonnie Raitt call you on stage just as you're headed out of town." Sam also took time on Saturday to sign autographs for hundreds of fans. Everyone was thrilled to see him looking well. I know I was. And his performance was as smokin' as ever. Bush's version of the Allman Brothers classic "Whipping Post" smacked the crowd into a frenzy with banjo picker Scott Vestal reeling off his version of Duane and Dickie's signature southern-fried licks.

Australian chanteuse Missy Higgins made a big splash on Saturday with her earthy pop from Down Under. The 23-year-old Higgins' freshman release The Sound of White has been certified platinum eight times in Australia, and her appeal has now carried over to this country. Her hooky tune "Scar" was well delivered. Her band included Josh Cunningham of The Waifs, another Australian outfit that has entertained in Telluride over the years.

Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings showed everyone how to shake what their mommas gave 'em and put some much-needed horn-drenched funk in the weekend. The cheers during her set were as loud as I've heard in Town Park.


Peter Rowan, Bryn Davies & Tony Rice
Telluride Bluegrass Festival 2006
Peter Rowan and Tony Rice took the audience to bluegrass church on Sunday with a polished set of Red's classic material and Tony's nimble-fingered fret work. And how 'bout Sharon Gilchrist and Bryn Davies?! Say no more... those ladies can play. This classic Telluride set included "Midnight Moonlight," "Panama Red," "Angel Island," "Shady Grove," "Land of the Navajo," "A Life of Sorrow," "Vassar," "The Free Mexican Airforce," and "The Walls of Time." It just doesn't get much better.

Nickel Creek stoked up the crowd with material from Why Must the Fire Die?, their most recent release. Chris Thile wowed the audience (as usual) with his wunderkind mandolin dexterity and easy personality. The group broke out some of its much appreciated staples, including "The Fox" and "The Smoothie Song." They even worked in a cover of Randy Newman's "Short People" and, believe it or not (and this is what makes them who they are), Britney Spears' "Toxic." Who woulda thunk you could tackle the Britney catalog with a mandolin, fiddle, and acoustic guitar? Nickel Creek.

Barenaked Ladies
Telluride Bluegrass Festival 2006
The last day of the fest remained at peak level with top-shelf sets by the Del McCoury Band, the Tim O'Brien Band (with Del Band alum Mike Bubb on bass), John Prine, and the unlikely festival closers, Barenaked Ladies, who were at once clever, funny, and musically right on top of things. Their act seems to be one long comedy bit backed by great chops. So much music, so much talent. Not enough space and time to cover it all. Shawn Camp, The Badly Bent, Mike Marshall, Linda Tillery and the Heritage Choir, Stephen Kellogg, John Cowan (Newgrass Revival, say no more), and many other talented artists who helped make this version of Telluride another classic.

Telluride Nightgrass

Nightgrass has come to be a festival unto itself, with bands heating up local venues including the Fly Me To The Moon Saloon and the historic Sheridan Opera House.

Telluride Bluegrass Festival 2006
Bellying up to the bar at the Moon for a late-night margarita fast became a festival ritual, as The Wayword Sons thumped it, The Sweet Sunny South stomped it, and Great American Taxi shredded the warm air into tiny bits. The dance floor at the Moon literally buckled under the pounding feet of the dancers. The high mountain looniness was such that one couldn't help but soak in a vibe capable of resonating all year long. Great American Taxi threw down perhaps the best and most spirited sets of the weekend on Sunday night, blending ska, jam, bluegrass, newgrass, cajun and a kitchen sink.

The Tim O'Brien Band and the Yonder Mountain String Band both rocked the Sheridan on separate nights. The Sweet Sunny South was on fire at the Moon on Friday, kickin' out old-timey acoustic music along the lines of the Wilders, who took the Moon by storm last year (see last year's review).

Until next year, so long.

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RoscoGirl starstarstarstarstar Wed 7/12/2006 05:37PM
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Dang, there be some sexy old Dudes hang'n around there...hehe!
Nice work guys!

jdog27 Thu 7/13/2006 11:21AM
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telluride is a first class fest all the way. the planet rocks at putting together quality lineups for all their fests. classics, new, old. just gotta also mention the wayword sons who seemed to be playing all over the place all weekend. despite drew emmitt playing across the street, the waywords packed their latenight and went home with a TON of new fans. what a great fest, all 10 days!

Weezer starstarstarstarstar Fri 7/14/2006 10:35AM
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Indeed. The Sons ripped it up at the Moon.

SherylV starstarstarstarstar Fri 7/14/2006 08:05PM
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Wish I could have been there. The photos are great! Guess I'll go next year.

passionpresents starstarstar Mon 7/17/2006 09:48AM
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Not even a mention of the 2006 Band Contest winners GREENSKY BLUEGRASS? A true Cinderella story, they were added to the contest on 3 hours of van sleep and proceeded to take 1st place, securing them a spot on the main stage in 2007!! Check em out at
Theie new album is produced by Tim Carbonw (RRE)... not to be missed!!

jjwood starstarstarstar Tue 7/18/2006 10:02AM
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Nice article! That said, I felt you could have spent more
time on Nightgrass, as I did all the Sheridan shows and
every one was worthy of mention in their own right. There is always subjectivity...for example, I found Neko Case to be far too droning and one-dimensional for me. I also felt you didn't give enough space to John Prine, whose set was
among my very faves at Telluride. Otherwise...very nice work!

EVILFUNK Mon 7/31/2006 09:33AM
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drive Ophir pass to T-ride.