There is something comforting in returning to a summer music festival I've attended in the past. This is especially true here in Colorado, where I could trip over a festival just walking down the sidewalk. Literally.
Especially in Carbondale, where I call home.
Since I consider music as my therapy for the soul, I couldn't think of anywhere I'd rather have been last weekend than the 39th Telluride Bluegrass Festival. The lineup was spectacular - Alison Krauss and Union Station, Bela Fleck, Jerry Douglas, Edgar Meyer, Tim O'Brien, Sam Bush, the Punch Brothers, to name a few.
Plus I was going to talk solar and bake homemade cookies using solar cookers with my Carbondale friends from Sunsense Solar. Not quite booth babe status, as seen at many of the solar conferences I've worked.
I had been to Telluride Bluegrass prior, so I knew much of what to expect. I knew the music would be amazing, as it always is. As with most big festivals in Colorado, I look forward to corn dogs and copious amounts of Colorado-brewed New Belgium beer that seems to flow nonstop. They sure make a lot of that stuff. Not to mention the spectacular views in Telluride.
That box canyon feels absolutely nothing like a box to me.
What really makes Telluride Bluegrass sing, though, is the people. The Festivarians, as they're called. Thousands meet in this tiny town nestled in the San Juan Mountains, at 8,750 feet, for an extravaganza of bluegrass that musicians herald as an honor to play.
I'll liken it to the Indy 500 of live bluegrass.
Just to be there feels special, like the setting to a story people tell their grandchildren. There are folks in the large audience who come to Telluride Bluegrass every year. Some haven't missed it in decades, like my friends Dane and Kent Wilson. The Brothers Wilson, born and raised in Glenwood Springs, have surpassed the 20-year mark of attending this time-honored festival. Obviously they are extremely dedicated.
Just ask the Mrs. Wilsons in the family.
I know if I go to this festival, I will see the Brothers Wilson, and friends. I just look for the small Colorado state flag and rainbow fish hanging from their pole. The Wilsons and their crew, or at least some of the people in the crew, will be there to hang out and listen to bluegrass.
If they aren't around, they're probably out to lunch and will be back soon.
Or they are prepping for the next day of tarp duty, a right of passage of which many a Telluride Bluegrass Festivarian is familiar. The drill is to set up lawn chairs in the early morning hours, say around 5 a.m., to wait in line for the gates to open at 9 a.m. (10 a.m. on Sunday). Once the gates open, the bagpipes play to mark the day's start and the fun begins. The opening minutes involve a mad dash to find the perfect spot for a tarp where Festivarians plant their low-back chairs and make a spread for friends to join them.
I'm more of a chair-free type myself.
This year, I attended and helped bake solar cookies at the festival with my roommate, Cassie. She introduced me to a group of Telluride Bluegrass Festivarians that, like the Brothers Wilson, mark their spot with a flag and a group of familiar faces. This crew is delightfully called the Pig Pony and they know how to do concerts right. Instead of the Wilsons' Colorado state flag-rainbow fish combo on a pole, the Pig Pony faction flies a white flag with signature pig-meets-pony branding.
It's that serious when there's a logo, and a beer koozie, involved.
The white flag is visible at Telluride Bluegrass, as well as other concerts around Colorado and the country. Who knows, the domination may even be worldwide. Like any group meeting up every year, and sometimes more, at Colorado music festivals to enjoy music and the company, fun is the mission. The music is therapy, after all. And the fellow Festivarians are great for meeting and watching.
Let the summer festivals begin.
- "April in Glenwood" appears every Wednesday. April E. Clark is not sure why she didn't stand in the autograph line to meet Chris Thile at Telluride Bluegrass. She missed her chance. Maybe next year. She can be reached at aprilelizabethclark@ yahoo.com.