Monday, June 20, 2011

coming home to a place he'd never been

I spent the weekend in the transcendental Rocky Mountains of Southern Colorado at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. I'm not really much of a bluegrass guy, or rather, it's not something I've taken the time to fully appreciate and grasp, so when I bought my festival pass earlier this year, it was an on-a-whim type thing. That, and another chance to see Mumford and Sons.

My friend Jeremy was the one who spearheaded this thing. To give you an idea of Jeremy's enthusiasm for this event, I'd say that the Telluride Bluegrass Festival is to Jeremy as John Steinbeck is to me. He drove up Wednesday morning, Brian, Laura and Kiana got there on Thursday, and I made my way up on Friday.

Waiting for the festival to begin.

I had such a great time. Hanging in the Rocky Mountains is an experience in itself, but being with friends and having so much to do with the festival made it that much better. Here are some highlights from the weekend:

I'm pretty indifferent when it comes to the Decemberists -- try as I might, I just can't really get into them (that said, I don't hate them either). But I really dug their set on Saturday. I enjoyed Colin Meloy's banter and overall the band sounded pretty tight. The highlight of the set, though, was when Meloy engaged in a self-deprecating pick-off with banjo virtuoso Béla Fleck and dobro master Jerry Douglas.

Saturday morning I went to meet Jeremy at the Nugget Theater for a Punch Brothers documentary (whose set on Sunday was pretty phenomenal) when I was stopped by two folks from Porchlight Sessions. They asked me to do an interview for an upcoming documentary they're filming about the burgeoning bluegrass movement. As a bluegrass newbie I was worried that I wouldn't have much to say on the subject, but it turns out that my newcomer perspective was part of what they were looking for. Anyway, I look forward to seeing the film regardless of whether my interview makes the cut.

On our way to the festival Sunday we shared a gondola with Victor Wooten (if you're unfamiliar with Wooten's unparalleled bass prowess, educate yourself here). We didn't say much to him, out of timidity (with the exception of Laura), and out of not wanting come across as over-zealous fans. But by the end of the gondola trip, he had recommended a good hike for us.

Here are some scenes from our Victor Wooten-recommended hike. OK, so Jeremy recommended this hike long before he did but having Wooten's stamp of approval certainly didn't hurt things.

Mumford and Sons. I saw these guys in April on the Railroad Revival Tour but I seemed to enjoy them so much more this time around (I think the crowd had a lot do with that; at the RRT show there was so much cajoling and arguing within the crowd for a place to stand that it really ruined the spirit of the show).

Please excuse the cell phone quality photo, it was far too rainy to use anything else.

When I see bands I love, I'm not always excited about hearing new material, at least not at the expense of songs I'm already familiar with. But it's the opposite with Mumford and Sons. They played four new jams -- "Beneath My Feet," "Hopeless Wanderer," "Lover of the Night," and "Lovers Eyes," all tentatively titled (although "Lovers Eyes" has existed as a demo/bootleg for some time so I don't know if I'd call it new) -- I enjoyed the tracks as much or more than the rest of the songs I already know and love.


  1. Another thing that I think warrants mentioning is Colin Meloy's sexy, if ill-fitting, beard.

  2. did the less-awesome crowd happen to you too at the railroad show?! we watched mr sharpe from like 10 ft away but people were being first-class idiots so we retreated to the back for mumford...where we drank water, sprawled out on the ground and watched them on a screen. Much better back there.

  3. The problem with RRT, as I see it, was two-fold. First, there were WAY too many people in that small space. TBF had roughly the same daily attendance, but there was probably at least three times the space. Second, the convenience of RRT means all kinds of douches who aren't really serious about the music can just head down there and party it up for a few hours.

    I was getting a little claustrophobic at RRT, and really couldn't move anywhere if I wanted to. At TBF, I didn't start looking for a spot during Mumford until a few minutes after it started, and I was still able to get comfortable about 30 feet back, without having to push anybody aside.