Telluride Bluegrass Festival Review

My mom, Char and I in Telluride

TELLURIDE, CO – The 38th annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival has once again brought lovers of bluegrass music together to converge on the tiny Victorian mining town of Telluride, Colorado. This years festival was sold out as usual.

I tried to get a photo pass through the The Mountain Weekly News to cover the event and was told by the promoter that “it would be illegal to issue any more tickets” that being said I had my mom visiting so we high tailed up to Telluride and hoped for the best. In all my years of seeing music, I have yet to be shutout of a show, Telluride would not be the exception to the rule, especially with my mom in tow.

We booked a room at Camels Garden which gave us a parking pass that allowed us to drive into downtown Telluride. In years past parking has been an issue during festivals creating parking nightmares throughout the community. Once past the checkpoint we weaved in and out of bluegrass fans as we drove to the front door of the hotel.

Camels Garden is located in the heart of downtown Telluride, across the free gondola and walking distance to all the live music taking place throughout town. A dog friendly property with an upscale twist, our room featured a massive flat screen TV ( although it was never turned on ) a great patio overlooking the gondola square, a gas fireplace and really nice sounding radio. And I can’t forget about the incredible bathroom featuring an over sized tub and a shower I could have taken a nap in, simply heaven..

Enter the world of ticket scalpers.. As we walked around town looking for tickets we had many people willing to sell their extra’s. Unfortunately some of these so called apparent “bluegass fans” were more interested in turning a profit then letting people in to see music. We had single day tickets offered to us for $150.00, keep in mind the 4 day pass were sold for $165.00 when tickets went on sale.. There was no way we were going to pay this, especially considering I really only wanted my mom and I to see the headliner Railroad Earth.

Cash for your exta...

Cash for your exta…

After an hour of no luck finding reasonably priced tickets I decided to get clever and made a sign that read “Mom and I Need 2”. We instantly had people wanting to give us tickets and passes for way below face value. Turns out going to a show with your mom is really cool, this was the second time in recent years we have rocked out together with the first being a Widespread Panic show in LA a couple summers ago. Knowing my mom was a bluegrass fan I was stoked when we finally made our way through security and into the venue!!

We got in to the festival grounds while Bela Fleck and the Flecktones were doing there thing. Albeit Bela Fleck and the Flecktones are insanely talented musicians their music seems to be way to complex for my liking. Think technical jazz meets bluegrass which seems to float right over my head. I could tell my mom was wondering what was up as this was not the fun twangy bluegrass we came to see. I think the younger crowd all had the same reaction during Bela’s set. Then it was time for my old friends Railroad Earth to take the stage..

Seeing Railroad Earth live will put a smile on your face. From the first pluck of their strings a fun bluegrass dance party instantly took off. We were out near the soundboard when my mom saw an opening towards front of the stage and asked if we could go closer? I laughed knowing this would be home to the hardcore Railroad Earth and fans , and odds are they would be raging.

Not wanting to disappoint my mom we maneuvered our way to 4 rows from the stage and began to boogie down to one of the greatest bluegrass bands in the business. ( You can check out my interview with Railroad Earth by clicking here ) The young crowd was totally getting a kick out of having my mom in the mix. Each time someone started to act a fool I would say, don’t worry my moms cool and got many strange and puzzled looks. I hope we didn’t kill to many buzzes in Telluride. 🙂

Odds are your parents probably saw music when they were young too. All I know is going to a show with a parent is a great bonding experience as seen in the movie The Music Never Stops.

This show marked the 10th Anniversary of RRE’s first performance at Telluride! And did the band deliver, anytime RRE starts out a show with their smash hits like Long Way To Go and Potter’s Field within the first few songs of the set you know its going to be FIRE!!

Thank you Railroad Earth for such an amazing performance, my mom and I are still smiling. A huge thanks to all the wonderful fans of bluegrass that welcomed us with open arms. I am still speechless at how many great Telluride locals and visitors stopped to talk about my little girl Char, a 9 month old German Shorthaired Pointer.

Last but not least thanks to the wonderful hospitality we received at Camels Garden. If you are ever heading to Telluride be sure not to overlook this property, you can thank me later as it is the best location in town, hands down….

Maybe next year we can shoot photos at the festival, tbd… 🙂 paging planet Bluegrass, again..

PS that band named Phish is known to rock Telluride!

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About the Author

Mike Hardaker
Mike Hardaker grew up surfing and snowboarding in Orange County and followed his love of surfing to Hawaii before eventually moving to the mountains to concentrate on snowboarding. When not on a board, Mike worked for Snowboarder and later oversaw TGR's online publication. He went on to found Mountain Weekly News where he is still CEO and Editor in Chief.

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