It's my favorite time of year.
Summer festival season is in full-swing, and now that I live in the unofficial festival capital of the world (Telluride, Colo.) my radar of summer festivals has expanded its reach by quite a bit.
Bluegrass. Music. Ideas. Film. Folk. Yoga. Blues. Beer. Art. If there's a music or art form here with a following, there's bound to be a festival celebrating it. My preferred festival theme: bluegrass.
I've already attended two of my favorite bluegrass festivals this summer -- the Pagosa Folk 'n Bluegrass Festival and the Telluride Bluegrass Festival -- and if I had the flexibility, time and money I could easily spend the majority of the remaining summer weekends traversing the state to attend festivals of all sorts.
The summer festival season kicked off with Mountainfilm Festival here in Telluride. Featuring speakers like Greg Mortenson, Tim DeChristopher, Ed Viesturs and directors and stars of a smattering of amazing documentaries descended on this mountain resort town, awakening it from its off-season slumber.
My personal highlights? Having Mortenson ask me, me, to autograph a copy of the newspaper article I wrote about him, after I stood in line waiting for his John Hancock in a copy of his second book Stones Into Schools. And meeting three amazing boys who are younger than me who had the audacity and sense of right and wrong to leave their polygamist families in Warren Jeff's "Crick" in Colorado City, Ariz. to make a life for themselves. They were the subjects of Sons of Perdition, which opened my eyes to the fact that there are Taliban-like cultures here in our neck of the woods.
The following weekend, I drove to Pagosa Springs, where I have attended every single one of Folkwest's music festivals on Reservoir Hill (they're going on their 15th year this Labor Day for Four Corners Folk Festival). I went to the second annual Folk 'n Bluegrass Festival. Young bands, like the Belleville Outfit and Bearfoot, never cease to amaze and entertain me.
The weekend of June 12 and 13, Silverton held its first ever Silverton Rockin' Brews Festival, with two of my favorite hometown (Durango) bands, Lawn Chair Kings and Cyle Talley and the Late Greats. (It's really easy to like bands comprised of not only talented musicians but also all around nice guys.) I couldn't attend that festival due to a wedding, but I heard great things.
Just three days later, bluegrass fans flocked to my new home of Telluride for the 37th annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival, produced by the good folks at Planet Bluegrass. It was a strange feeling being a local for the first time in my several years of flocking to good ol' T-ride, but I had one of the best times, and I don't know how I was still functioning by the Nightgrass set of the Punch Brothers Sunday evening.
My personal highlights included seeing Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros for the first time, dancing my butt off for Mumford & Sons (twice) and meeting those lovely (and adorable) British chaps, performing my first "ice-ing" with a warm passion fruit Smirnoff Ice (click
If that wasn't enough for Telluride, the following week, we had the Telluride Wine Festival, which just last year introduced live music to its lineup. DeVotchKa, Blitzen Trapper and Jackie Greene took the stage this year. I was a little burned out on Town Park and live music and chose to escape our box canyon for a night, but I hear it was an excellent show.
I also got a break from bluegrass and prog-rock with my first taste of chamber music at Telluride's MusicFest, which features three chamber music concerts in a beautiful home overlooking Mount Wilson (the iconic peak on the Coors can). I heard the amazing piano trio Trio Solisti.. I'm not the type to listen to classical music on a regular basis, but I still appreciate chamber music, especially Romantic era pieces, and I felt like a real grown up listening to Chopin. They perform the pieces in the intimate living room setting to recreate the atmosphere for which chamber music was originally written.
As I write this, yogis are descending on Telluride for the third annual Telluride Yoga Festival, and this weekend Crested Butte will kick off its inaugural Bluegrass in Paradise festival, featuring Bearfoot, Springcreek Bluegrass Band, Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mountain Boys, Shannon Whitworth and the Emmit-Nershi Band.
Phew, what a lineup of festival, and the summer is only half way through.
Upcoming festivals include Rockygrass, Rocky Mountain Folks Festival , Mile High Music Festival, Jazz Aspen Snowmass, Four Corners Folk Festival, Telluride Film Festival and the< a href=http://www.tellurideblues.com> Telluride Blues & Brews Festival. I know there are festivals I am missing, but this just highlights the fact that we live in the best state in the union. We're so lucky to experience world class music in a world class setting.
Stay-tuned for a preview of these upcoming festivals in the weeks to come.