The holidays in Telluride need a tangible soundtrack, and the Sheridan Opera House is offering up a fruit-basket worth of live music this week. No, not the lame brand with cheap pears, but the kind with the high quality nuts and chocolate goods. This year the Holiday Concert Series continues a legacy of cramming in as many music stars into the Christmas and New Years week as possible.
To start Greenwich Village’s very own Peter Yarrow of the famed group Peter, Paul and Mary will deliver classic folk on Thursday. Grab your friends and listen to Yarrow with his including Laura Veirs, Blacque Butterfly, Adam East, Kris Deelane and Christopher Yarrow. Next up: acoustic songstress Shawn Colvin will continue the New York City inspired folker motif with not one, but two intimate performances on Friday night. This event is part of a fundraiser, so it’s a great chance to get in the spirit of giving back while being entertained by a Grammy winner!
On Saturday, New Orleans rhythm and blues singer Marc Broussard will continue the legacy of Cajun trappings alongside soulful tunes started by his father in Louisiana. Catch this contemporary rock songwriter demonstrate what happens when a Boogie King raises his son to keep the bayou beat alive.
As the greatest living exponents of Jamaica’s reggae tradition, the Wailers have perfected their sound with countless tours, playing to an estimated 24 million people across the globe, and selling a staggering 250 million records. With range beyond island music that has taken them into the worlds of John Denver and Kenny Chesney, this outfit of music legends keep preaching Bob’s message of revolution and revelation to the masses with their signature Jamaican anthems. What better way to ring in the New Year on Monday night than a funky reggae party?
Top Music Moment: Osborne, Benoit, and Collier Collide for the Blues and Brews Fais do-do
When asked for a prediction of how he foresaw the highly anticipated Telluride Blues and Brews Fais do-do closing party unfolding, Anders Osborne told the audience to “expect only wonderful things to happen that night.”
The intimate bookend gig to an already wild weekend of memorable live music performances was destined to be exceptional by design. Osborne and crew had already ripped through a bold day set and a feverish late night show at the Sheridan Opera House on Saturday. Going for the hat trick the next night meant he would tap fellow New Orleans six stringer Tab Benoit and Florida’s champion of the pedal steel Roosevelt Collier for some assistance on the punctuation performance. The latter being a musician he was well aware of given their parallel running careers, but yet had never crossed paths or licks with. As Osborne framed it, “The fact that we have not played together like this before makes this super exciting for me.”
The foreshadowing declaration was telling given Osborne plays 100s of shows at historic venues and the most reputable music festivals in the country. It’s not uncommon for him to be joined on legendary stages by musicians of the highest calibre. Yet on that Sunday night in September, Osborne was visibly stoked to be playing a sold-out and packed in Sheridan Opera House with two of the only guys that could keep up with him.
A lot of the written framework built into Osborne’s latest studio release Black Eye Galaxy gravitates towards carefully constructed rock ballads he can use to cool down a set when things get intense. Those tracks would be pushed to the side, and from the opening jam “Send Me A Friend,” the setlist structure would stay somewhere between demonically loud and blissfully heavy.
The fervor with which the guys played did nothing to cut into the night going the distance. The impromptu jams were extended. The transition between sit ins was patient. Even among the core trio of Osborne with bassist Carl Dufrene and drummer Eric Bolivar, the exchange was charged far beyond even the highest levels they had reached throughout the weekend.
The band wasn’t the only force in the room. The crowd had every excuse to lay back after three full days of dancing to blues-infused rock and boozing on microbrews, but the energy threshold was remarkable from start to finish. As Osborne’s overdrive pedal allowed his Stratocaster to screech over a breakdown during “Black Tar,” Benoit made his way into the mix. The two guitar giants fell into a rhythm like brothers that have played together since birth, and like competing siblings, they began a nightlong competition of putting forth the most impressive sequence of soloing.
Benoit opted to stick around when Collier brought out his portable lap steel kit to the middle of the stage. He relinquished his signature smile to the crowd, unable to ignore the feeling of being a part of a special moment in time. Collier came up as the frontman for Miami’s The Lee Boys, and has built a reputation for possessing a consummate playing style that conducts the true soul of Southern sacred steel. Given he had some catching up to do with Osborne and Benoit, he immediately took over the lead role during “On the Road to Charlie Parker.” Once his presence was known, the three stringers began a dialog that only enlightened virtuoses can understand. The sound subconsciously drew each player closer together until they were hovering over the crowd in front of the stage.Down the line the dexterous fingering grew in intensity and speed beyond anything I have ever witnessed from them or anyone else. High reaching peaks faded into the foundation of the next apex. Benoit and Osborne telepathically harmonized while Collier progressively slide into higher note ranges. Bolivar increased the drum tempo and a massive crescendo stopped time. Around the room heads were paused in the down turn of a head nod. Eyes were closed tight, fists jutted into the air, and feet were off the ground as the snare slammed one huge bang with all three guitarists finding the perfect pinnacle note. This would happen countless more times.
I saw the sonic stars align for a flawless tour de force on that Sunday, and among all of the standout performances in Telluridethis year, nothing matched that.