Live Reviews

Live review: Telluride Bluegrass Festival @ Telluride Town Park

Lyle Lovett helped close out Night 1 of the annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival on Friday. Photo by Nathan Rist, denverpost.com/reverb.
Lyle Lovett helped close out Night 1 of the annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival on Friday. Photo by Nathan Rist, denverpost.com/reverb.

For the fifth time since 1987, Country & Western icon Lyle Lovett took the stage with much anticipation from the crowd at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival last Saturday night.

One problem, however: Silence.

Lovett and his Large Band, which included bluegrass godfather Sam Bush and banjo badass Béla Fleck, started the show with the upbeat number “Choke My Chicken,” but Lovett looked like choking the sound engineer might be a better idea. The entire set was peppered with cracks and pops from faulty microphones, but Lovett soldiered on. The lead microphone chord was replaced mid-song only to be replaced again.

View a full photo gallery of all four days of Telluride Bluegrass.

Finally, success, and fans were rewarded with oldies like “Private Conversation,” off Lovett’s 1996 album “The Road To Ensenada,” as well as crowd favorites “That’s Right, You’re Not From Texas” and “My Baby Don’t Tolerate.”

Newer efforts, like “Home Is Where My Horse Is,” released off his “Natural Forces” album in 2009, got a respectable amount of applaus. The song, Lovett said, was inspired by a Coors Light commercial, a there’s a nod to Colorado in the line, “Now as I sit here safe at home
With a cold Coors Light an’ the TV on / All the sacrifice and the death and woe / Lord I pray I’m worth fighting for.”

The quote of the evening went to Lovett when he remarked about playing bluegrass music: “Country songs are sad, but bluegrass songs are dangerous.” The crowd cheered in agreement as he blazed into 1987’s “L.A. County.”

The Telluride Bluegrass Festival brings together all types and Friday provided a wide array of acts for all to enjoy. Denver’s Mayor John Hickenlooper took the stage to announce his favorite act, respected bluegrass group Hot Rize, and swapped stories of the Punch Brother’s Chris Thile with the band’s front man Nick Forster.

If you missed an act on the main stage at the festival, no need to worry. Most of the acts brought up musicians from all the acts to collaborate on stage.

Leftover Salmon did not disappoint as they closed out the night. The younger members of the crowd flocked to the stage like moths to a flame and there was much flailing and bouncing about in the spirit of mountain music festivals — little to no bathing, lots of what appears to be dancing and a hula hoop pit.

View a full photo gallery of all four days of Telluride Bluegrass.

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Evan Semón is a Denver freelance photographer and regular contributor to Reverb. See more his work.

Nathan Rist is a freelance photographer and a regular Reverb contributor. He hails from the mountains of Telluride, but he’s currently studying at the University of Colorado at Boulder.