1. Telluride Jazz Celebration
With a funky, hip line-up and the jump to a new time slot in June, the Jazz fest was the best in recent memory. The Neville Brothers, Dr. John, Simone, Maelstrom Trio, and Maceo Parker highlighted the festival, and – no rain!
2. Telluride Bluegrass Festival
Awesome as always, Planet Bluegrass pulled out all the stops for The 35th annual revelry, with Bluegrass royalty Sam Bush, Bela Fleck, John Cowan, Edgar Meyer, Jerry Douglas, Peter Rowan, et al. Plus, there was the return of Tim O'Brien, Bruce Hornsby, Ani DiFranco, Ricky Skaggs, Del McCoury, Yonder Mountain, and Leftover Salmon. Chris Thile and the Punch Brothers knocked our socks off, and the crowd loved King Soloman Burke, Uncle Earle, Daryll Scott, Paolo Nutini, and many more on the stellar line-up. And who was that kid jamming out rock cover tunes on the mando in the festival grounds? He gets an honorable mention!
3. Telluride Blues & Brews
No wonder the festival is winning awards; the 15th annual blues bash was phenomenal. Etta James blew our minds and John Butler stole the show, although so did Susan Tedeschi and her hubby, Derek Trucks. In fact, the whole fam damily was there with Gov't Mule, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Big Sam, Joan Osborne, Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band, and G. Love. This year's Blues fest was extraordinary for me, as I got to sit in with legendary rockers Canned Heat, a true honor.
4. Telluride Cajun Festival
The new street dance format downtown was a brilliant move, and the weather cooperated for a cooking performance by Buckwheat Zydeco. Awesome Louisiana-style viddles, too!
5. Telluride Mountain Village Sunset Concert Series
TMVOA stepped up to bring a tremendous line-up this year, with highlights including Junior Brown, Hot Buttered Rum, The Gourds, and The New Mastersounds.
6. Taj Mahal
Taj was mah-velous in Mountain Village! This was my personal favorite single-act show of the year – slush drops, rainbows and all!
7. Papa Grows Funk
At the Telluride Conference Center in August, off the hook!
8. Elizabethan Report
The Utah rockers got our attention at the Fly Me to the Moon Saloon. So did a ba-zilllion other great bands that the Moon brought in over the year. Too many to mention, they are all terrific!
9. Steve Earle & Allison Moorer
It was a sweet pairing at the Sheridan Opera House in July. The two seemed to bring out the best in one another. Great songwriting, of course, and kudos to the Sheridan Arts Foundation for the tremendous line-up of entertainment over the past year.
10. Lez Zeppelin
The all-female tribute band returned to Telluride in July for the KOTO Doo-Dah in Town Park, and were as hot as ever.
Honorable Mention: New Monsoon, Outformation, Topaz & Mudphonic, Karl Denson, On the One, Mike Dillon's Go-Go Jungle, Sister Carol, EOTO, Great American Taxi, Lubriphonic, Emmitt Nershi Band, Keller Williams, and that busker kid at Bluegrass!
Really, this is just the tip of the iceberg, as I'm always amazed at the caliber of live music that rolls through Telluride. Thanks to all who perform, promote and support live music. Keep rocking in 2009!