Telluride Bluegrass Festival

Words By Chris Pandolfi (Infamous Stringdusters)

Why is Telluride Bluegrass so epic? There are a million reasons, which is why people have been making the trek for 38 years. This year was more hype than most, with the encore performance of Mumford and Sons and the earliest sell out ever. But it was also the same quality plan of years past–the definitive gathering of acoustic all stars atop an endless lineup of must-see bands, all set in one of the most beautiful and inspiring places in the world. Telluride is a huge party in the mountains that’s home to the biggest and best acoustic sounds going (albeit sometimes in a more electric setting). Epic is the only word for it.

The original Flecktones set was the highlight. Howard Levy was back after almost 20 years, and he was just killing it. Their music is pure innovation, newer and better than before (Future Man’s rig sounded great). That level of originality is still so inspiring after all these years. Big kudos to Bela Fleck–the undisputed king of modern day banjo.

We’re big fans of the Telluride late-night scene. Over the course of four days you can see almost all the best acts at one of the clubs in town, after hours. These shows are packed–amazing rooms and amazing energy. For the ‘Dusters, a 2 PM festival set is a different experience than two sets late-night. At Telluride you get to do both.

But really everything about this year was great–way too many bands to mention. The Telluride House Band got it all rolling on Thursday night (pic above), and things never slowed down. The Dusters had a great set Friday afternoon, a big throw-down with Yonder on Friday night at the Sheridan, and our own Nightgrass set on Saturday. We filmed with many cameras, and the first results look good. Tim O’brien‘s band was on point, as well as the Punch Bros–both sounded extremely tight. Andy Hall and Sam Bush were all over the excellent Emmitt-Nershi set on Saturday afternoon. Sunday night was the big night: Mumford (featuring Bela and Jerry), Robert Plant and a snowstorm. All this, amidst the laid back CO mountain town feeling and a sea of generous, music loving fans. Telluride is hard to beat. We can’t wait for the next one.


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