The glorious return of Bluegrass Arts and entertainment

The summer solstice is Tuesday, but in Telluride, the celebration began a little earlier this year with the 49th annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival. The first festival of this sunny time of year always welcomes the start of the season, but after two years of moving into the unknown of a global pandemic, including canceling the festival for the first time in 2020, Bluegrass returned with renewed vigor over the weekend.

With the green light to grow big without any restrictions, festivals flocked to San Juan again to celebrate a genre born in such a high country. The carefree spirit of the revelers was palpable and permeated the entire city, as many of the sights and sounds of Bluegrass also returned this year. Although no one said it too loudly, one could hear the collective whisper that the festival felt “normal”, as if the last two years had been just a bad dream, from which we all finally woke up and shook off our memories.

Scott Spencer, a longtime local fanatic and Bluegrass fanatic who was taken away from us too early in 2019, was again first in line, a camping chair with love notes in his memory that kept him pressed before launching the opening day. .

There were people scattered all over the city, providing pockets for free entertainment. Acoustic guitarist and violinist did not perform a serenade to anyone on Thursday night near Elks Park. While there was a larger crowd in Town Park enjoying Bella Fleck’s set, which included a visit from a colleague, Bluegrass Sam Bush’s support, the sunburnt duo of dirt-covered clothes didn’t care. They played with their eyes closed. Several people paused to evaluate the performance. As far as I know, the two street performers are still playing.

Walking along the path along the chattering San Miguel River, it was not uncommon to see people relaxing and spinning in the water, whether they needed a quick rinse or not, tunes from a nearby city park provided a soothing soundtrack.

Next to the ticket tent, right in front of the post office, a group of young boys set up a picnic table with an umbrella to protect them and their product from the heat. They couldn’t be older than 10, but friends excitedly put up a handwritten sign on the front of their makeshift booth announcing the price of the lemonade: $ 2.

The walk past them caused a déjà vu. I saw this scene years ago, during a previous Bluegrass weekend. In my mind, the boys were the same from that time, full of their jack-o-lantern smiles, sandy blond hair towels, and a cooler covered in Grateful Dead stickers. Their honest bustle adds to the overall spirit of the festival.

Peter Rowan’s Bluegrass Band played in the park. Even at 3pm on Thursday, the crowd was already healthy and growing. A patchwork of tarpaulins covering the lawn, creating a quilt of good times, the park becomes Planet Bluegrass.

The evening culminated with an energetic set by rockers Tenacious D. The duo of comedian Jack Black and ax colleague Kyle Gus played in the crowded park and shared laughter and blunders, as well as a few swear words.

The sun seemed to wink goodbye as it descended from the view of the Lower Valley that first night.

Fishing rods were cast on the lake on Friday morning and quickly wound up by impatient fishermen, and the conversation was more important than the catch.

A little girl with a fishing rod slung over her shoulder asked a boy nearby, “Will you be here next year, Owen?”

Owen, who looked the same age, shouted, “Hey, Mom! Will we be back next year? “

A number of parents resting in the shade of the trees near the edge of the lake all laughed.

“Yes, we will be here next year,” Mom said.

“Cool, I’ll be here next year or tomorrow,” Owen told his new friend, a fisherman.

On Main Street, Elks Park was crowded during the preliminary round of the band’s competition, which featured local Birds of Play favorites. The finals took place on Saturday after press time on Friday afternoon, but the Bluegrass competition helped launch the careers of many bands, including the festival’s favorite Greensky Bluegrass, after the band won it in 2006.

Players held their chosen instruments and patiently waited their turn on the sidewalk near the stage, phantomly collecting notes and preparing for what could be their big break to make the main stage next year.

Friday Park’s performances include Rising Appalachia, Tyler Childers and Greensky Bluegrass. Again, most played after a while for the press, but the city wears its crown of music well this weekend, as always, like catching up with an old friend after a long period of not seeing each other.

As much as the world has changed since 2020, this year’s Telluride Bluegrass Festival offered everyone the much-needed help for normalcy and comfort, even if it was just for a music-filled weekend.

Like Tuesday Letter, a tune by Greensky Bluegrass, it expresses it perfectly: “Hold forever in the palm of your hand and eternity for an hour.”

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