19th Annual Telluride Blues & Brews Festival: Telluride Town Park, Telluride CO 9/14-9/15/12

Day one in Telluride began brisk. But as typical of Telluride weather, the sun shined bright, the air warmed quickly and the crowd began to roll into Town Park for the 19th annual Telluride Blues & Brews Festival. Dropped in a picturesque mountain meadow, the stage was set for three days of unforgettable; music, food and beers from some of the most innovative breweries in the country.

This year’s festival kicked off with the Seattle based Indie rockers Pickwick. Followed by Little Hurricane; A duo fronted by the gritty blues guitar of Anthony “tone” Catalona and the driving percussion of Celeste “CC” Spina who quickly turned the heads of festival goers as reoccurring mumbles of “The White Stripes” could be heard throughout the crowd.

Making their first visit to Telluride B&B the Heartless Bastards quickly set a precedence that they truly belong on the Town Park Main stage. The Austin based four piece lead by the soulful vocals of Erica Wennerstrom brought an in your face garage-style blues that rocked to the stage from start to finish.

As the day progressed, festival goers began to crowd the stage for the day’s fourth act. True to form… Robert Randolph and his Family Band hit ground running with an ass shak’n good time jam. As the front man’s limbs began flailing and he switched between his pedal steel and lap steel the crowd went nuts. Prefaced by all members swapping instruments mid jam;  the band’s instrumental encore of “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” sent the crowd into an absolute frenzy and made one question if the song should ever be covered with lyrics again.

Long standing funk-rocker’s Little Feat kept the crowd swooning with standards such as “Fat Man in the Bathtub” and “Dixie Chicken” as obnoxiously colored suits, dresses and beehive hairdos began to migrate toward the stage in anticipation of the headlining band. The B52’s sounding as if they hadn’t missed a beat since the 80’s brought classics such as “Private Idaho,” “Mesopotamia,” “ Rock Lobster” and “Love Shack” to end a great first day of music from Telluride.

Telluride Day 2;

The second day of Telluride Blues & Brews always consists of an additional or different type of BUZZ in the air as festival goers begin to line up for the Town Park entrance by 8am for…. It’s Grand Tasting Day! Some of the most innovative craft brewers from all over the country offer tastings of their old standards and others offer small batch specialty beers created specifically for today’s event.

Day two offers possibly the most diverse day of music that included regional tours of America. Today didn’t ease you into the music or begin slowly… no, instead it began with a pseudo flashback to the 60’s as the day opens with the first of two California bands. San Francisco’s six piece Monophonic opened the festival with their pseudo 60’s psychedelic sound that included both original work and covers including a gritty rendition of Aretha Franklin’s “Baby I Love You”.

The second of the California pair was LA based Orgone. After opening with a funky instrumental jam, a small figure in jeans and slinky red top floats to the front of the stage and begins to caress the crowd. These vocals of Niki J. Crawford inadvertently sent your eyes deep to the back of your head.

As members of Portland’s MarchFourth Marching Band began to take the stage, one may have wondered if a more appropriate stage entrance may have been via the large trunk of a brightly colored car. Eight horn players, five percussionists, two guitarist and multiple stilt walkers and dancers took the stage in a theatrical performance with crowd driven sing & and dance-alongs.

As the Grand Tasting came to an end, so began part two of the regional music invasion. Taking us down to the bayou, Anders Osborne hit the stage with a delta rock blues purpose. And as if his driving guitar riffs and fiery vocals weren’t enough, Anders was joined on stage with Orleans Avenue guitarist Pete Murano which included an extended version of the Grateful Dead’s “Fire on the Mountain”

The next stop on the Bayou was the always entertaining, multi-instrumentalist Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews and Orleans Avenue: a set that may have been better described as a journey. A journey that could not have included keeping all arms and legs inside the vehicle, but instead, funkishly throwing limbs in all directions. From Ray Charles to Led Zepplin to a Louis Armstrong/Duke Ellington interpretation of the classic St. James Infirmary blues, Trombone Shorty took all on a ride that left everyone gasping for air and asking for more.

With the final act of day two hitting the stage, one would wonder –How can Warren Haynes and Gov’t Mule take it up yet another notch? How about opening with a reggae version of Steve Miller Band’s “The Joker”. As the crowd quickly erupts into an impromptu “woo-wooo”, it was easy to see how the often touted hardest working man in the biz was not going to have a problem. A set that included Mule’s own “Banks of the Deep End”, “Empty Pages” from Traffic, Bob Marley’s “Lively Up Yourself” a tease from The Turtle’s “Happy Together” and Led Zepplin’s “Whole Lotta Love”. Ending with an encore performance of “The Music’s Over” one could say was the perfect means to close The Doors of a very special day two.




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