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Why Telluride Blues and Brews is one of my all-time have fests

The 18th annual Telluride Blues and Brews powered through rain, snow, hail and blazing sun Sept. 16-18 for yet another amazing three-day festival of music, food, beer and fun. There is so much to love about this well-orchestrated event. Let me count some of the ways:

1. Blues! And so much of it, from the country blues of the Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band to the soulful blues guitar of Robert Cray to the eclectic blues of Anders Osborne to the boogie woogie blues piano of Marcia Ball. Even when one of the headliners is Big Head Todd and the Monsters, not an immediate go-to for the blues, there are still blues in the offing — the band sent out some Robert Johnson in memory of the late David “Honeyboy” Edwards. Not to mention a ridiculously fun version of “Black Betty,” which allegedly was written by 12-string blues guitarist Huddie “Lead Belly” Ledbetter, although most people know it from Ram Jam. The Flaming Lips were sensational. Not really blues. But such a hoot to see live. As was Willie Nelson, bless his crowd-pleasing heart.

2. Brews! And so much of it, not only from the vendors who were sending it forth from kegs in garbage cans and strapped to their backs and in booths as fast as they could, for heaven sakes, but also at the grand tasting of 50 micros.

The chill scene at the 18th annual  Blues and Brews.

3. Fab food! Where to start? How about with dessert, which was hard to resist once I found theTelluride Truffle booth, where for less than $4 you could get a baby sundae (there was one called something like the “big papa” for $6.75, but it really was huge) with excellent vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and a choice of melted milk or dark chocolate. Healthier options included a wonderful selection of veggie-packed stir-fries and noodle bowls, as well as a gyros vendor doing an enormous Greek salad with a spanakopita for less than $10.

4. Um, it’s in Telluride. The prevailing joke is that when it seems as though a performer has forgotten the words, it’s really just that they’ve looked up for a sec and suddenly seen where they are. The snow-capped mountains can make it hard to concentrate. Between shows, you can wander around town, or hike the Jud Wiebe trail, or grab an expertly crafted latte at the Coffee Cowboy (123 E. Colorado Ave.) and pet one of the many dogs who hang out there.

The fabulous dumpster volunteers separating out the tasty compostables and recyclables.

5. It’s green. All should have to visit this festival to see how it can be done. Volunteers crouch atop the dumpsters to direct your garbage into the compost, recycling or regular bins, and very few items make it into the latter, because most of the products used here are uber-biodegradable. In addition, most of the energy is solar-generated, and the event sponsors have made this a 100 percent carbon neutral happening. Read all about it here

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