I’m using my least favorite day of the year, Winter Solstice, to tell you about a show you don’t want to miss on my favorite day of the year, Summer Solstice: the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. This festival holds a special place in my heart. It is the first bluegrass festival I ever attended. One of my best friends and fellow music lover, Lynn Holt, introduced me to the magic of the box canyon that is topped by the twin Bridal Veil Falls and a river running through its lush valley. If Kevin Costner’s dad in “Field of Dreams” showed up there, he would ask if it was heaven. You seriously have to see it to understand how amazing it is.
And while the scenery remains indescribable, it is the music that keeps drawing me back to the festival that has been held annually over the Summer Solstice for the past 41 years.
The first time I attended the Telluride festival, I “discovered” Shawn Colvin playing an impromptu jam with Mary Chapin Carpenter in the Town Park. I immediately headed to the little music store down the street and bought her first CD, “Riding Shotgun Down the Avalanche.” In subsequent years, I “discovered” one of my favorite duos, Buddy and Julie Miller, among many other talented artists I might not have been exposed to if it hadn’t been for hearing them perform live. I’ve made numerous subsequent trips to that little music store on Main Street as well.
Telluride is the place I learned that there are few things I love more in life than sitting on the side of a mountain and listening to live Americana music. One evening listening to the sweet harmonies of Emmy Lou Harris and Nanci Griffith, Nanci broke into the Kate Wolf song, “Across the Great Divide,” which includes the following lines:
“I’ve been walkin’ in my sleep
Countin’ troubles ‘stead of countin’ sheep
Where the years went I can’t say
I just turned around and they’ve gone away
Of dusty books and faded papers
They tell a story I used to know
And it was one that happened so long ago
Now I find myself on the mountainside
Where the rivers change direction
Across the Great Divide.”
It was magical. I am planning on heading back this summer to hear the King of Telluride Sam Bush play on the stage I heard him whip into mando mania for the first time. Listen to Bush’s take on Telluride here.
But don’t take our words for it. Come see for yourself. The initial lineup for the 42nd Telluride Bluegrass Festival set for June 18-21 has been announced. Tickets and camping sites are onsale at shop.bluegrass.com or 800-624-2422.
Following is from the Planet Bluegrass Newsletter:
“We can barely contain our excitement. We’re honored to present the historic collaboration of legendary artists Ry Cooder, Sharon White and Ricky Skaggs — a set we’ve dreamt about for the past 25 years. And making her Telluride debut is two-time Grammy winner Kacey Musgraves. Oh my, it’s going to be a glorious weekend of music and Colorado sunshine at 8,750 feet.”
The initial lineup includes:
- Sam Bush Band
- Cooder – White – Skaggs
- John Butler Trio
- Kacey Musgraves
- Telluride House Band featuring Sam, Béla, Jerry, Edgar, Bryan & Stuart
- Yonder Mountain String Band
- Trampled By Turtles
- Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn
- Leftover Salmon
- Punch Brothers
- Lake Street Dive
- Greensky Bluegrass
- Jerry Douglas Band
- Hot Rize
- Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band
- Chris Thile & Edgar Meyer
- Rhiannon Giddens
- Rock My Soul featuring The Fairfield Four & The McCrary Sisters
- Noam Pikelny & Stuart Duncan
- Trout Steak Revival
- Telluride Troubadour and many more still to be announced…