But as the man behind "the granddaddy of the modern festival circuit," as the 36-year-old Bluegrass Festival was dubbed recently by Relix magazine, Ferguson need not worry.
These days, everybody's calling him.
A case in point is the Decemberists, an indie-rock band that's climbing the ladder fast to global recognition.
"I called their agent guy," Ferguson says, clearly relishing the story, "and he said, 'They're in the studio. They're not playing any festivals and they certainly don't want to play'" recounting the conversation, Ferguson's voice takes on a disdainful twang "'bluegrass.'"
Soon, however, the agent called Ferguson back. "I don't know who you are, man," he said, "but the band wants to come out of the studio and play your festival."
"There's a whole new folk movement" is the punchline. "The whole indie rock movement is flourishing."
The Telluride Bluegrass Festival, now in its 36th year, is flourishing, too and to such an extent that Ferguson has even abandoned his ubiquitous tool belt for pitching in on the hookup of everything from phone lines to computer lines to the festival's mega-watt sound system. "I used to worry about parking," says Ferguson, who once had to start lobbying regional governments and businesses months in advance of the festival's end-of-spring date for everything from parking on the Valley Floor to campsites for thousands to permission to increase the number of attendees.
But the most visible changes leading to the new streamlined Bluegrass Festival are probably in marketing: "We used to send out mailers," says Ferguson; nowadays, Planet Bluegrass has an alluring website, instead so alluring, he reports, that "we do 80 percent of our orders online," and have trimmed a staff of six phone-sales people down to two. Then, too, today's ever-improving recording technology makes it possible for musicians of all stripes to "create a record that's as good as they want it to be."
But along with a streamlined Bluegrass Festival, Ferguson says, comes a smaller audience. Gone are the days of last-minute television and radio ad campaigns warning would-be festivalgoers to turn back, because the tickets were all sold out.
With this year's lineup, from Bonnie Raitt to Béla Fleck (celebrating his 25th year at Telluride Bluegrass) to John Prine, Yonder Mountain String Band and the Barenaked Ladies and, of course, the stalwarts, including John Cowan, Peter Rowan, Sam Bush, Edgar Meyer, Jerry Douglas, Tim O'Brien, Allison Krauss, to name just a few "we would have sold out in two months" a few years ago, Ferguson says. He goes on to predict that Bluegrass won't be hitting its 10,000-tickets ceiling again, "unless we have Neil Young or one of the five or six artists" with Young' drawing power.
Even the old acts we associate with the festival have something new O'Brien delivered two new records this year; Bush and Cowan both released one, and Fleck's latest recording came out "a little while ago."
So how does Ferguson, who has been running the show for almost two decades now, keep this four-day mix that's called bluegrass but is actually more of a carefully crafted mix of alternative, fusion, roots and folk music and then some, together?
"How do you know it's going to be fresh?" he volleys back, before settling down to answer the question.
"To be honest, what I've been doing the last couple years is keeping an eye on the other festivals," he confesses with the goal of getting "an idea of what not to do."