TELLURIDE – Get ready to roll, because it's full steam ahead into the grand finale of festival season, with the 15th Annual Telluride Blues & Brews Festival set to rock the canyon.
“It’s amazing that we’re still here,” laughs festival Director Steve Gumble, who has orchestrated the festival from its humble beginnings as a small brew fest, to the world-class event that it is today. “There’s a great vibe and a lot of energy on the streets, and it’s seems like everyone’s really excited about the line-up. In fact, we’re very close to selling Saturday out.”
The anniversary celebration is jam-packed with tremendous talent, with three full days of music on the Town Park Main Stage, plus the nighttime Juke Joints and a barrage of special events, all coupled with a bustling night life scene.
From the most traditional blues, to the hottest new fusion, the festival features big-time stars, including headliners Etta James & The Roots Band, John Hiatt & The Ageless Beauties and Gov't Mule. There's the dizzying Derek Truck Band and the funky horns of The Dirty Dozen Brass.
The marvelous Mama's Cookin' returns to town, as do Chris Thomas King and Susan Tedeski. Soulful singers abound, with the likes of Joan Osborne and The Blind Boys of Alabama on the docket.
Then there's some of the hippest hop on the planet, with G. Love & Special Sauce and The John Butler Trio among the savory treats. Of course, a big dollop of funk is thrown in the mix, including Big Sam's Funky Nation.
There's the New Mexico sensation Ryan McGarvey, and the classic rockers Canned Heat return to town, celebrating their 40th anniversary. There's much more, including the wonderful Wayne Dopsie & The Zydeco Hellraisers, Tijerina, Moreland & Arbuckle, Bryan Lee & The Blues Power Band, Trampled Under Foot, and don't miss The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band. Yep, as Peyton would say, the whole "Fam Damnily" will be here for one wild weekend!
While the festival officially starts on Friday, the revelry gets a jump start at the Fly Me to the Moon Saloon with Back Door Slam at the kick-off Bal De Maison on Thursday night. “I always like to have what I call a secret weapon every year,” says Gumble. “These guys are making all kinds of waves. They’re a trio out of the Isle of Man, England, and they’ve been crushing it everywhere they go. It worked out they wanted to come to Telluride and moved a few dates around so they could be a part of it. I’d say they’re like Jimi Hendrix-influenced rockers, so we’re really excited to have them.”
Gumble is known for bringing in a wide array of talent, and says, that’s half of the fun. “I like to bring in these secret weapons, bands that aren’t full-on discovered yet. Telluride has a reputation for being a little ahead of the curve. Grace Potter is a good example of that. It’s just my style of booking. Even if people haven’t heard of the band, I bet they’re gonna like ’em!”
You can bet your booty on that, as Back Door Slam’s Celtic-tinged rockin’ blues is as fresh as the morning dew, but with the ferocity of a blowing gale. The power-trio kicks it down hard, with the multi-instrumental Davy Knowles, drummer Ross Doyle and Adam Jones on bass churning out their unique sound, which has some heavy-hitters taking notice.
Slam has recently been opening for Kid Rock and Lynryd Skynyrd, and will team up in support of Gov’t Mule this fall.
The tremendous debut Roll Away invites comparisons to classic blues greats, but there’s a new edge to the Slam’s funky style with a Celtic twist that’ll blow you away.
A slam dunk, secure your tickets for the Bal De Maison at the Moon, and don’t miss Back Door Slam on the festival Main Stage at Town Park on Friday. Rock and roll, baby!
Jammin’ at the Juke Joints
The Fly Me to the Moon Saloon will be jumping throughout the weekend as one of the official “Juke Joints,” but the legendary underground club is already revving it into high gear, with the return of Kent Burnside & The New Generation on Wednesday night.
Burnside is, of course, the grandson of the legendary R.L. Burnside, and gives the blues new life with his deep, rootsy sound and powerful, kick-ass band.
Burnside says the band has been hitting it hard all summer in support of the new CD Country Boy City Dreams. “It came out pretty good. You know I’m a country boy at heart, and I live in a city. I guess I’ve got a little of both in me,” muses Burnside. “I just love playing this music, and it seems like it just gets better and better.”
No doubt about it, fans know that Burnside puts on a killer live show, and has appeared numerous times in Telluride, including a couple of smokin’ slots at the Blues & Brews Festival in years past. “We’re all looking forward to it, you know, we have a lot of friends there, and you guys give me energy and just make me feel great. It’s gonna be a whole lot of fun!”
Get in the festival spirit with Kent Burnside and The New Generation Wednesday night at the Moon, a deep delta delight!
The Moon’s line-up for the Juke Joint schedule also includes Mama’s Cookin’, Dwayne Dopsie and Big Sam’s Funky Nation, and there’s the after-party show, including the incredible Eric McFadden Trio with 56 Hope Road on Sunday night. The other official Juke Joints are Las Montañas, who will host Moreland & Arbuckle for two performances this weekend, and you never know who might drop in for a jam.
The Historic Sheridan Opera House has Bryan Lee & The Blues Power Band, plus Ryan McGarvey, and the huge wrap party, The Fais Do-Do on Sunday night.
The Telluride Elks Lodge is also a Juke Joint this year, and will have the tremendous Todd Tijerina and Trampled Under Foot. Plus, the Elks Lodge hosts Blues for Breakfast, which will feature the Telluride Acoustic Blues Competition on Saturday, and John Alex Mason on Sunday night. Mason is terrific, and blues aficionados will recall that he won the competition back in 2001. As Mason’s website says, the rootsy rocker has a special place in his heart for this festival, and it was here that he met many influential people, including Richard Johnston who took him under his wing.
“At Telluride, Richard invited me out to play with him in Memphis on Beale Street and I took him up on the offer,” says Mason. “It was a steamy Thursday night in June and Rick gathered a crowd, something he’s really good at, then introduced me and promptly left the drum stool. My acoustic instrument was still de-tuned from the trip so the only option was Richard’s drum rig and Lowebow. So I hopped on.”
Hopped on he did, and the prodigious Mason has gone on to perform with tons of classic blues greats, including BB King, John Mayall and Otis Taylor among others. He’s also performed with such contemporary phenoms as Shemekia Copeland and Joan Osborne. Uh huh, you might wanna stop by the Elks for breakfast sometime this weekend. You never know who might show up, and besides, you’re going to need the strength!
The Telluride Conference Center in Mountain Village is the fifth official Juke Joint, where Canned Heat will rock on Friday, and the recently announced Warren Haynes show will undoubtedly be a rager on Saturday night!
A word to the wise, the Juke Joint venues often sell out quickly, so secure a ticket asap! But whoa, I’m getting way ahead of myself, because there’s plenty going on before the festival actually begins.
The Pre-Festival Scene
Thursday night in Mountain Village, there’s a final encore in store to this year’s sensational Sunset Concert Series, with a special appearance by Greyhounds, the soulful funk rockers out of Austin, Texas.
The band’s been garnering some big attention from their new CD No Mas, and yep, Greyhounds are also part of the extended family, as they’ve been doing a few gigs with Derek Trucks as of late. A fantastic finale to the splendid Sunset Concert Series, get ready to rock with Greyhounds, Thursday evening in Mountain Village.
In the meantime, the scene is already exploding in downtown Telluride. Tonight it’s the juicy jazz indie-rockers Paradigm out of Louisville, Ky., at the Bubble Lounge, who recently shared the stage with fellow Ropeadoper, Charlie Hunter. Wednesday, get your funk on and get thy booty on over to The Bubble Lounge where Chicago 's Lubriphonic is rolling in for a three-night run.
Drummer Rick King says the band has been on the upward spiral. "Man, we've been getting a lot of good interest and picking up some opening slots. We just opened for Derek Trucks in Chicago, and there's been talk of possible openings for Gov't Mule and Rat Dog, so it's huge in terms of the level of respect."
Lubriphonic's third CD, Soul Solution, is receiving rave reviews, and as King explains, is opening some doors. "This is music born from the Chicago soul scene. We definitely have a funk and R&B edge, but you know, we got the soul too, and the horn players really keep everything hopping, so it's highly danceable.”
The band has been together loosely for about 10 years, and King says, it's an interesting mix. "It really is a soul solution. The band is multi-racial and multi-generational, but we all see each other as brothers. It's kind of unique and representative of our music. We love it when we see an audience of all ages and from all different walks of life groovin' together. They may not do that on the street, but they all get along at the show. The band likes to have a good time, but we also like to have a conscience about our music. So, we truly want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem."
Lubriphonic rocked the O2 bar last time they played, and you'll want to catch them at least once this time around. "We're blessed to play music, and we're excited to return to Telluride. It's gonna be a blast!"
Catch these cooking funksters, Lubriphonic, Wednesday through Friday at the Bubble Bar with a twist.
Bop below the Bubble Lounge on Thursday night to O'Bannon's where you can catch Telluride's own hard-edged rockers, the Voles who will be ripping it up with some new material. “The new CD is just getting pressed,” says drummer Gary Damsky. “We just sent off the artwork, and the remastered-master edition, so we’re really excited.”
Damsky is joined by the electric Lane Rider on vocals and guitars, with RC Gartrell on bass, and the power trio is known for their high-octane performances. “We’ll be doing some of the new tunes, and hope to have the new CD out in the next week or two,” adds Damsky. Keep your ears open, and get down with the Voles on Thursday night at OB’s. The dudes rock!
Tommy’s will also be bopping along next to Elks Park during the festival, and the Open Mic on Wednesday should be over-flowing with jumping jams. Look for the Noir Bar and other local watering holes to be going off all week too, and get ready, get set, go: Festivaaaaal!