Telluride Bluegrass

When we met over the cheese counter so many years, bluegrass was playing on the store’s speakers. And when the beautiful and witty cheesemonger told me that she also played the banjo, I knew I liked her.  She invited me to a bluegrass concert that weekend… but never gave me her number.  Five years of dating and two years of marriage later, we had actually never attended a bluegrass show together until this weekend.

For the uninformed, the Telluride Bluegrass Festival is like Mecca, the Vatican or Jerusalem to fans of mandolins and fiddles.  Every year around the solstice, the best musicians in the bluegrass world get together in a small town surrounded by mountains for four days of picking.  We are talking: Bela Fleck, Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas, Edgar Meyer (all on one stage!) and then of course, The Punch Brothers, Ryan Adams and Yonder Mountain String Band.  

We arrived with James in tow — expecting to be the cool, adventurous parents bringing our little baby to the hippie concert. But we weren’t that cool. Or rather, a ton of parents were that cool… and way cooler, if you ask me. A third of the attendees must have been under 10, and while we were staying in a hotel near by, way more legit hippy mountain parents were camping in the wooded campsite all weekend with their three+ kids.  

We were there to film. We spent the first morning visiting a nearby farm (at 9000 feet), whose proprietor also organizes the impressive composting program at the festival. But mostly we were there for fun.  James, however, was there to work.  After much dedication he learned to walk Saturday night during Sam Bush’s set; covered in dirt, and surrounded by hoola-hooping children and adults alike, as the sun set over the mountain backdrop.  Though the little munchkin has been practicing walking for months (a few minutes here and there), he was mostly relying on his signature knee-walking moves.  But on that dirt field, with mandolin blazing, and snow covered peaks surrounding, he stood up and kept going.  And then, like the true big boy he had suddenly become, James crouched down and rested his head on the ground, to let us know it was time to go home for the night. Im guessing he realized we got to come back the next day.