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Fans and musicians sing praises of Sunlight Mountain Bluegrass festival

Post Independent Photo/Kelley Cox
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GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Sunhats, bare chests, and toe-tapping feet were as common as fiddles and banjos at the Sunlight Mountain Bluegrass Festival over the weekend.

The hill above the base area at Sunlight was filled with blankets, shade canopies, and suntanned bodies Sunday.

The crowd showed of its clogging skills as some danced on old tabletops in front of the stage. Young and old paired off to twist and twirl on the wood deck of the lodge, as the happy sounds of bluegrass guitars echoed through the green valley.



Musicians of all ages met for impromptu jams, vendors sold everything from marionettes to mandolins, and fans attended workshops on traditional bluegrass arts, like clogging and guitar.

The festival, in its first year, was called a success by musicians and fans.



“It’s been great,” said Matt Malick of the Hand Me Downs band, of Gunnison. “Good times, good pickin’, good people.”

Dave Abbott, also of the Hand Me Downs, appreciated the local feel of the event.

“It showcased a lot of Colorado up-and-coming bands,” Abbott said. “It’s good to have a festival on the Western Slope.”

The crowd enjoyed the show as much as the musicians enjoyed performing.

“It’s awesome, man,” said Branon Barrett of Denver. “It’s great.”

Though the crowd was smaller than promoters expected, most in the audience appreciated the small size.

“The beautiful thing about this festival is that it’s very quiet, very quaint,” said Craig Bowes of Denver.

Some audience members attributed the small crowd size to July Fourth vacationers.

“A lot of people go away for the Fourth,” said Oni Butterfly of Silt.

Andrea Clark of Eagle nearly missed her brother’s Minnesota band, Pig’s Eye Landing, after her July Fourth vacation in Michigan.

“We were recovering and unpacking,” she said, but managed to catch her brother’s final performance on the last day of the festival.

Maggie Pedersen, of Glenwood Springs, also said she missed the first few days of the festival while she was out of town.

“I really enjoy this music. It’s really positive and upbeat,” Pedersen as the music continued.

The shows during the day weren’t the only attraction. Many fans parked campers in the Sunlight parking lot, where the festivities ran into the night.

“You should have been around the campfire last night at 4 in the morning,” said Bowes, who enjoyed live music long after the bands officially stopped playing.

After this inaugural year, fans wanted to see the festival continue.

“This is one of the smaller Colorado festivals that we need to keep supporting,” said Amy Reinholds of Lyons, who sells CDs for the band Open Road Bluegrass.

“This is a good turn out for a new festival,” she added.

The festival held promise, according to fans and musicians.

“This is how Telluride started,” said Reinholds of the state’s largest bluegrass festival.

“Colorado has a bluegrass scene that is kind of starting to evolve,” said Abbot, before his band’s performance.

“I hope they do it again next year,” said Barrett, who was writing a review of the festival for an online magazine.

“Its nice and small,” he said, then lamented, “I’m sure it’ll get bigger.”

Contact Ryan Graff: 945-8515, ext. 535

rgraff@postindependent.com


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