In the midst of swaying conifers and early summer waterfalls,
harmonies reached the welcoming ears of thousands of
“festivarians.” The upshot was a valley-town in the San Juan
Mountains known as Telluride, Colo. A town overflowing with art,
energy and bluegrass.
Celebrating its 31st anniversary, the Telluride Bluegrass
Festival once again provided solace and a home to nearly 11,000
people. This year’s festival was held June 17 to 20, and narrowly
avoided thunderstorms that struck many surrounding areas, providing
concertgoers with the perfect watercolor backdrop.
While some fans were in attendance for the first time this year,
a number of people warmly referred to by the town as “festivarians”
make the pilgrimage back to the beautiful country every summer,
adding to the character and tradition of the festival.
As years have passed, the festival has progressed from
dominantly signing traditional bluegrass artists to offering open
arms to performers of other breeds. While fans were entertained by
a number of bluegrass artists, including the perennial Sam Bush,
who was proclaimed king of the festival (whether this was
self-proclaimed is uncertain), the “festivarians” also embraced
such acts as Ani Difranco, Michael Franti and Spearhead, Lyle
Lovett and Xavier Rudd.
Though many welcome the arrival of new artists to the scene, the
bluegrass tradition is one of the defining elements of the
festival. The rolling banjos and singing mandolins in a four-piece
bluegrass band seem to perfectly compliment the landscape of
Telluride while they sing the frontier campfire stories that define
the scope of the place.
The artists that come to Telluride never seem short of an
earnest appreciation of the setting that they each have a
paintbrush in the making of, and leave each listener with an
experience carved out in the mountains of their memory.
Operating out of Lyons, Colo., the festival is managed annually
by Planet Bluegrass, Inc., a company that holds bluegrass functions
and festivals throughout the Rocky Mountains. PBI has proven not
only to be successful in the concert promotions business, but has
also shown it can effectively operate with the progressive
standards that its fans demand.
This year’s festival grounds were run entirely on wind power, as
are PBI’s headquarters in Lyons. Other non-music related amenities
at the festival were voting registration booths, 100 percent
organic fruits and other goodies provided by Whole Foods Market and
booths to sign up for domestic wind power. Free water was also
provided by Blame It On The Altitude, a company that supplies
natural spring water in 100 percent biodegradable bottles made from
Most notably, Fort Collins’ own New Belgium Brewing Company
provided tasty beer for parched “festivarians,” with biodegradable
beer cups to boot.