Western Colorado will get a proper dose of country, blues, bluegrass and soulful singer-songwriter themed acts this week with the four-night Telluride Americana Music Fest.
Now in its sixth year, Austin resident Steve Stagner is bringing Texas and Tennessee music flavors to the Sheridan Opera House once again. Having kicked off on Wednesday with a VIP event featuring Australians Stuart and Camille French at Telluride Ski & Golf Club Members Clubhouse, the growing annual showcase will intimately highlight Americana artists ranging from folk cowpunker Ray Wylie Hubbard of Dallas to the lo-fi roundhouse rock of Austin’s Reckless Kelly.
“Some of these guys and girls are pickers, but they can also blend the sounds of blues and country together very well. To me Americana is where all that comes together with a focus on songwriting, and that is what we are trying to feature here,” explains Stagner.
Also included are stand-out soulgrass female vocal trio Red Molly, who will melt hearts with their honest narratives, and sultry alternative blues from Nashville’s Brigitte DeMeyer. Additionally, representing Music City, USA, will be Will Kimbrough and Tommy Womack’s acoustic-electric collaboration, Daddy. The attractive punctuation mark to the festival comes on Saturday night with a powerful Texas folk triumvirate featuring Telluride American Music Fest repeat offenders Walt Wilkins, Jason Eddy and Kevin Welch.
Following the Americana Music Fest, folk rock legends Hot Tuna will encore the weekend with an intimate acoustic show Sunday night at the Opera House. No strangers to the welcoming Telluride crowd, Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady are set to continue a 35-year legacy of dexterous finger picking and blues bass that defined generations, and inspired both countless fans and musicians. Although not breaking out the electric set for this one-off, the acoustic trio will feature the fluid mandolin virtuoso Barry Mitterhoff on Sunday night. Still playing as passionate and as sharp as the 1960s Jefferson Airplane days, this is one no Telluride music fan should miss.
Bringing clean-cut blues rock from Cedaredge to Ridgway this Thursday night (7/19) are The David Starr Band. Having honed his skills in Aspen with the likes of Bobby Mason and Sonny Bono, the multi-faceted musician Starr has played every instrument on his solo records. Now with the help of an expanded five-piece, Starr brings the grooving sounds of the 2012 release Underneath the Clear Blue Skies to a stacked July lineup at The New Sherbino Theater.
Crested Butte’s ready-to-get-heavy rockers, Coreshot, take over Fly Me To The Moon Saloon once again this Saturday for a night of face-melting ,guitar-shredding, endless speed drums, and clever sonic shifts, from punk to ska to metal, that they dub mountaincore.
Beyond nostalgia, The New Riders of the Purple Sage rocked the first Mountain Village Sunset Concert last weekend.
With a history deeply interwoven with Bay Area country music and iconic members of The Grateful Dead, The New Riders of The Purple Sage have been the unsung heroes of the late 1960s California jam rock movement. Taking only one hiatus in their existence, a seemingly relentless push for longevity has been a catalyst for numerous lineup changes during the 43-year stand. Although pedal steel guitar player Buddy Cage would sit out for the Mountain Village show, the band employed Leftover Salmon’s Vince Herman to share ax duty with original member David Nelson and former Hot Tuna member Michael Falzarano. Since the band’s return in 2005, bass duties were awarded to Stir Fried’s Ronnie Penque, a long time Melvin Seals collaborator, and Johnny Markowski adds drums to the band for the first time since 1990. On paper the guys have an incredible amount of clout, and in person they exceeded the expectations of simply being a nostalgia act.
With nearly 1,500 in attendance at Sunset Plaza, many having traveled from around the region, a noteworthy crowd gradually formed in front of the pop-up stage. The three six-string veterans moved through a deep discography with ease, starting with “Rainbow” off 1972’s Powerglide, and then dropping a cover of The Cofer Brother’s “Deep Elm Blues.” Showcasing their ability to keep a creative yet monophonic sound for decades, the second half of the first set seamlessly mixed in new title tracks “Where I Come From” and “17 Pine Ave.” Using the fresh material as a jump off point, guitar leads and solos were traded down the line as Nelson shredded over psychedelic effects from Falzarano. While the rhythm section took the driver’s seat on tempo and direction, the trio of legends set forth bluesy chatter that worked both in combination and separate from one another.
The rarity of that much potential talent-driven ego being suppressed in the name of a balanced sound was working enough to keep the lively crowd around for the second set. Looking a bit more chipper and sporting telling grins, The New Riders took their signature twang into experimental jam sections that brought more of the crowd off the hill and into the dancing pit. Curious children ventured away from their games to dance or hula-hoop to the spacey and crisp soundtrack as the sun began to set. Maybe it was the new open container policy, but the pulse of the gyrating crowd locked in and a bass solo from Penque ignited hoots and hollers for more. Closing the set with Markowski providing vocals on “Higher” rounded out the multi-talented display of spirited musicianship that continues the legacy of the Purple Sage. As the band dropped the instrumental out the fans echoed the chorus, “Higher than I’ve ever been, I’m so high, don’t think I can come back again,” in a blissfully fitting anthem to finish off the first Sunset Concert of the summer in Mountain Village.