Glenwood brothers bond with bluegrass
Post Independent staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – In 1991, Kent Wilson was graduating from college. His younger brother, Dane, was fresh out of high school.
And so their journey of celebrating Summer Solstice together at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival began.
Nearly 20 years ago, the brothers Wilson started a custom that has brought them closer through bluegrass and the beauty of the San Juan Mountains.
“It’s a great venue, with Telluride as the backdrop,” Kent said. “It’s just the tradition and the music. And being with 10,000 of your closest friends.”
Always set on Summer Solstice weekend, the Telluride Bluegrass Festival draws thousands of music fans just like Kent and Dane. The brothers – natives of Glenwood Springs – happily recount years of memories made at the popular event.
“It’s just really a festival-friendly place,” Dane said. “It’s a very diverse crowd. Everyone’s there to have a good time.”
Last year’s Telluride Bluegrass Festival remains etched in the brothers’ minds. Kent surprised Dane with backstage passes for the festival’s 35th anniversary.
“We sat in the front row in the VIP section,” Dane said. “We saw Del McCoury, Jerry Douglas, Yonder Mountain String Band and Ricky Skaggs, all sitting in the front row. And we met Darrell Scott and Brett Dennen backstage.”
Over the years, the Wilsons have grown to love the bluegrass genre, attending shows in Glenwood Springs and Aspen year-round to keep the Telluride spirit alive.
“We’ve developed an appreciation for the music,” Kent said. “I know Dane really gets into the workshops.”
With his musician brother in mind, Kent nearly won the prize of all bluegrass festival prizes for Dane one year.
“I lost a mandolin once,” Kent joked. “It was the most expensive weekend I’ve ever had.”
That year, Kent had registered for a mandolin give-away. The only catch: The winner had to be present to win. Unfortunately for Kent, he was temporarily unavailable.
“I was running up and down the line of Port-o-Potties, yelling his name,” Dane said. “I couldn’t tell which one he was in.”
A particular camping excursion early in their Telluride Bluegrass experience also sticks in the Wilsons’ minds.
“One year we camped on private property and we didn’t know it,” Kent said. “They woke us up at 3 in the morning and told us to leave. We would have been in big trouble but we talked them into letting us sleep until the morning.”
Today, Kent and Dane opt for renting condominiums for the 18-person group of Festivarians who join them in their Telluride tradition. They attend all four days of Telluride shows, Thursday morning through Sunday night.
“I think when you have people who go for the first time, it’s great when they become addicted,” Kent said. “We always seem to share a laugh, shed a tear.”
When emotions run as high as Colorado rivers during run-off, the Wilsons call this the highly anticipated “Telluride Moment.”
“It’s hard to express in words,” Dane said. “It’s like the perfect mix of music, scenery and the people you’re with. It’s when all the elements of Telluride come together.”
This year will likely produce more Telluride Moments for the Wilson brothers. They’ll indicate their presence at the shows with their brightly colored Festivus Pole.
“It’s a 19-foot pole we put up so everyone knows where we are,” Kent said. “It’s turned into a light pole at night. We just tell people to look for the pole with the balloon and fish and they know exactly where to go.”
After 18 years, that shouldn’t be a problem for Kent and Dane Wilson.
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Recently the challenges have mounted against making another bridge connecting south Glenwood Springs to the Colorado Highway 82 corridor.