The 2012 Telluride Bluegrass Festival will announce its initial artist line-up today, and The Post has the exclusive news on the bill that already includes Alison Krauss & Union Station, Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers, the Sam Bush Band and Yonder Mountain String Band.
They’re all familiar names to Telluride Bluegrass audiences, but something new has landed in the popular festival’s camp – namely record-breaking ticket sales.
After busting all ticketing records for the 2011 festival, the event’s Lyons-based organizers are surprised that the four-day passes for the June 21-24, 2012 event are already almost sold out – only two weeks after its initial unpublicized on-sale.
“We hadn’t announced a single artist on the line-up until the winter solstice, and we were all stunned at how much excitement there was when tickets went on sale a couple weeks ago,” said Brian Eyster, the festival’s head of marketing at Planet Bluegrass. “We were prepared for twice as many requests as last year, and that would have been huge for us. But in the first hour of the onsale we knew something had changed.”
When tickets went on sale on Dec. 7, the festival’s modest 20-line phone system was locked for hours – as per usual. But the new crush hit online, where there were four times as many customers logged in than ever before. About 10 minutes before the onsale, the fest’s website was experiencing more traffic than it did at its peak in 2010-11.
And this all came down after the festival did its best to keep things quiet – a tactic to help festival fans over scalpers.
“Based on last year’s demand for tickets and the early sell-outs for each event, we were mindful that long-term festivarians would be able to purchase tickets at the holiday discount – and therefore almost embarked on a negative marketing campaign by not sending an email, press release, or even a tweet until tickets had been onsale for a few days,” said Craig Ferguson, the festival director at Planet Bluegrass, which also runs the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival and RockyGrass. “Little did we anticipate the possibility that four-day passes would be nearing a sell-out before we had released a single artist name.”
Each year the fest sells 8,000 four-day passes, and the other couple thousand tickets are sold as single-day units. The 2011 festival sold out of those coveted passes in April, but the 2012 event could sell out of four-day tickets before the end of the year. Individual day tickets will go on sale in January or February 2012, when the day-by-day line-up is released.
The initial 2012 line-up includes: Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers, Alison Krauss & Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas, Sam Bush Band, John Prine, k.d. lang & the Siss Boom Bang, Telluride House Band featuring Sam Bush, Bela Fleck, Jerry Douglas, Edgar Meyer, Bryan Sutton & Stuart Duncan, Yonder Mountain String Band, Del McCoury Band, Bela Fleck & the Marcus Roberts Trio, Leftover Salmon, O’Brien Party of Seven, Peter Rowan, Punch Brothers, Greensky Bluegrass, Della Mae and Run Boy Run. Others will be announced in the coming months.
Indie folk posterboys Mumford & Sons have previously said that they plan on returning to Telluride for the festival every June – whether they’re playing or not. Will they be back in 2012 – after back-to-back gigs there in 2010 and 2011? Planet Bluegrass isn’t commenting yet. But they are getting the word out to festivarians and fans that if they don’t act now, they’ll be ticketless in June.
“It’s going to be a shock to a lot of people,” said Eyster, also noting that the Folks Festival and RockyGrass tickets are stronger than ever, “and that can be frustrating for them and for us.”
Click here to revisit Reverb’s coverage of the 2011 Telluride Bluegrass Festival.