Bluegrass Weekend in Telluride!

It’s Bluegrass weekend in Telluride. But it didn’t start Thursday. It actually started before, more like last weekend. For days, visitors, traveling musicians and festivalgoers have been jamming in Telluride Town Park, on street corners on Colorado Avenue and out in front of the coffee shop on the main street. Folks have been seen carrying guitar and mandolin cases around town. Bluegrass music is playing on the sound system of local businesses, and nobody can find a parking spot anywhere. Twelve thousand people have crammed into the box canyon to attend Telluride’s biggest event: the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. It’s a 41 year-old tradition. And, the lineup this year was as good as ever. From his days in the Spencer Davis Group, Traffic and Blind Faith to his solo work, Steve Winwood makes another appearance in the San Juan Mountains for Bluegrass. And locals were excited. They were all ready to be “Back in the Highlife Again.” Chris Thile continues to play Telluride Bluegrass Festival this year, in both solo acts and with his bands, both The Punch Brothers and also Nickel Creek. Many folks are still talking about the performance he gave at the Steaming Bean coffee shop three years ago — a show that was standing room only, jam-packed and very high energy. Thile’s mandolin ability, along with his soul quality, have earned him quite a reputation in Telluride. Keller Williams made a comeback too, again joining The Travelin’ McCourys. Yonder Mountain String Band, beloved in the box canyon, still have their usual 4 p.m. spot on Saturday and played a Night Grass event Wednesday at the Conference Center in the Mountain Village and Friday evening at the Sheridan Opera House. Other Night Grass events sold out months ago, and Telluride Sweet Deals, the local Facebook page for buying and selling locally, showed some people seriously on the lookout for any extra tickets. . Of course, the House Band musicians, the favorites and old timers of Bluegrass have come back too: Sam Bush, Peter Rowan, Bela Fleck, Leftover Salmon, Tim O’Brien and Darrell Scott. And, as a special treat, Allison Krauss is scheduled to appear on stage Sunday night in the finale. These legends are a good part of the reason that this festival sells out. There’s music magic that happens onstage when these pickers get together. The campgrounds are all filled up. Tents have peppered the high school soccer field, and Town Park is bustling with RV and pop-up camper fun. The box office is still teeming with those searching for will call tickets and folks impatiently waiting to strap on their bracelets. The message board is up, and some people are still looking for single-day passes for Saturday and Sunday. Though rain and hail threatened festivarians on Wednesday, things have mostly turned out well weather-wise. Clear skies, sunny afternoons and chilly evenings make for a perfect Bluegrass. Let’s hope that everyone remembers their sunscreen and to drink plenty of water — in addition to all of those New Belgium brews!

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