telluride blues & brews… but mostly brews
Great blues, tasty beers, and beautiful scenery are a pretty excellent combination. Throw in seven of your college girlfriends and you have the makings of an epic vacation. Thanks to take-your-breath-away-gorgeous Telluride, Colorado and the supremely cool Telluride Blues and Brews Festival, that’s exactly what it was.
We all flew into Denver on Thursday night to make the 7-hour drive to Telluride on Friday. We had collectively decided to pursue a somewhat misplaced but extremely well received cowboy theme for our weekend. All of us brought our best boots, hats, plaid, and fringe. Accordingly we made a serious classic country playlist to accompany our look and the sweet sounds of Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty serenaded us through the mountains, past groves of golden aspen trees, and into Telluride. (Of course we also had John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High” cued up for the dramatically beautiful entrance into the Telluride valley, and I highly suggest this plan of action for anyone making their first visit to the town). Unfortunately, we didn’t get there in time to catch any of the festival acts that day, but at least we had arrived.
We were there right at noon for the festival opening on Saturday. However, I can’t comment much on the first couple bands, as they were playing during a free 3-hour beer tasting… and I can’t comment much on the bands after them as they played directly after a free 3-hour beer tasting….
The beers were delicious, and the crowd was amazing. An enthusiastic camaraderie was the mood of the day. Tasting lines for the 50 breweries were surprisingly short and quick-moving, the sun was shining, the music was playing, and have I mentioned? the beer was free. Our group made plenty of friends among the inebriated masses.
But it was a lot more than just the group drunkenness that made the festival so great. The overall vibe was amazing, and the setup was one of the best of any festival I’ve ever been to. True confession: I don’t actually love music festivals. They always seem like a great idea but I usually end up leaving frustrated by the throngs of dazed, slowly wandering people, the constant drag of having to choose which competing bands to see, and the sound pollution of multiple stages playing at the same time. Blues & Brews is a one-stage festival, which to my mind is ideal. No bands you have to miss or hours you have to parse into 10-minute slices in order to see the tiniest sliver of every act you want to catch.
The Saturday headliner was Gov’t Mule, who delivered a solid jam-filled set. Their cover of Humble Pie’s “30 Days in the Hole” was a personal highlight. And before that, Trombone Shorty got the crowd on its feet with some trombonalicious funk as the setting sun lit up the valley on its slide behind the Rocky Mountains.
We didn’t make it to Day 3, as only a couple of us had 3-Day passes and half the reason for the trip was to spend time with my lovely girlfriends who are now scattered between San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Denver, and Minneapolis. On a side note, I would like to issue a public apology if you were a patron of the Last Dollar Saloon on Main Street in Telluride that afternoon/evening/night, as our group took over the jukebox for a beer “tasting” and “festival” of our own…
With new music festivals cropping up faster than Starbucks locations, the Telluride Blues & Brews Festival really offers something different. The unbeatable location, and the crowd that it attracts really set it apart in the increasingly competitive festival scene. I’d definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a Colorado odyssey, or just a good excuse to go to Telluride. I hope to make it back next year, and maybe even report on some music…. ;)
”Rocky Mountain High” – John Denver (I mean… duh)