Telluride Bluegrass Festival is an annual music festival in Telluride, Colorado hosted by Planet Bluegrass. Although traditionally the festival focuses on bluegrass music, it often features music from a variety of related genres.
The first Telluride Bluegrass Festival was held in Telluride in 1974. It was founded by John Herndon, J.B. Matiotti, Kooster McAllister, and Fred Shellman, who played in a local band called The Fall Creek Boys.
The idea for the festival came from the Telluride Fourth of July Celebration in 1973. Scott Brown organized the traditional Fourth of July Celebration which had its roots back in the early mining days of Telluride when miners would come from many miles for a rendezvous. Scott Brown, George Greenbank, Davy Greever, Burk Thompson, and Ralph Parker built the original stage at Town Park and designated an area for dancing and listening, as well as a concession area.
The success of the 1973 4 July celebration is credited as the beginning of a revival of the American Bluegrass tradition and music over the years.
The ownership of the Bluegrass Festival has been passed down five times since its inception and is presently owned and run by Craig Ferguson of Planet Bluegrass.
In 1974, its first year, the festival attracted approximately 1000 participants. Currently the festival's attendance is capped at 10,000. According to the Library of Congress, the 1980 performance was filmed by Boulder public television and two CDs were made available.
Notable performers have included Sam Bush, David Byrne, Johnny Cash, Elvis Costello, David Byrne, John Fogerty, Chris Daniels & The Kings, Bill Monroe, Nanci Griffith, Mark O'Conner, Dixie Chicks, String Cheese Incident, New Monsoon, Sharon Gilchrist, Railroad Earth, New Grass Revival, Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss and Union Station, Willie Nelson, Robert Plant, John Prine, Nickel Creek, Yonder Mountain String Band, Mumford & Sons, Leftover Salmon, Béla Fleck, Chris Thile, Noam Pikelny, Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band, Tim O'Brien, Counting Crows, and Lyle Lovett, to name a few. The Telluride house band consists of Sam Bush on mandolin, Béla Fleck on banjo, Stuart Duncan on fiddle, Jerry Douglas on Dobro, Edgar Meyer on upright Bass, and Bryan Sutton on guitar.
One of the features of the festival is a band contest. Twelve bands are given slots in the competition. Judges rate the bands and the top four go to the main stage to compete before the crowd.
Past winners include:
1985 - Blitz Creek
1988 - Titan Valley Warheads
Ryan Shupe & the Rubberband
Pagosa Hot Strings
The Badly Bent
Blue Canyon Boys
Nora Jane Struthers & the Bootleggers
2011 - Run Boy Run
2012 - BlueBilly Grit
2013 - Front Country
Entry at the Library of Congress
Telluride Tourism Board Official Site
Telluride Visitor Information
Live at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival
Too Late to Turn Back Now