Jun 222004
Authors: Chris Kampfe

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.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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