A Look at the Festival Season Ahead

By Adam Smith 
Yesterday the Telluride Blues & Brews festival finally let go of their highly anticipated 2015 lineup, finalizing the full Telluride festival lineup schedule for the now four major live music events of the season. Bringing together rock royalty like ZZ Top, Gregg Allman, John Hiatt, along with buzzing acts The Revivalists, The London Souls, The Bright Light Social Hour, and Monophonics featuring Ben l’Oncle Soul offers a chronologically enticing spectrum of talent to the event’s 22 year legacy. Standout headliner Sharon Jones & Dap-Kings also adds a hip, soulful element in addition to badass rock ‘n’ roll purists Blackberry Smoke, gospel heroes The Blind Boys of Alabama, and rising indie roots darlings The Apache Relay sitting along festival staples Anders Osborne, Tab Benoit, and Rich Robinson of the Black Crowes. Always a favorable mix of iconic stars, the bands of tomorrow, and a ton of incredible craft beer, Telluride Blues & Brews notches yet another statement lineup to get you stoked for the Summer.

Telluride Bluegrass Festival will mark year 42 with a return of their most beloved acts including the Punch Brothers, Leftover Salmon, Sam Bush Band, and The Telluride House Band featuring Sam Bush, Bela Fleck, Jerry Douglas, Edgar Meyer, Bryan Sutton, and Stuart Duncan, but also throws a curious curve ball with Grammy nominated pop songstress Janelle Monae in the mix with Australian roots rockers the John Butler Trio. Perhaps the most appealing of the list will be married couple Ricky Skaggs and Sharon White teaming up with Ry Cooder for a trio centered around performing classic country, blues, gospel and of course bluegrass music. Newcomers in the form of British folk band Lau and Nashville duo Johnnyswim are sleeper sets to look out for as well.

The youngest of the four, The Ride Festival have officially changed gears and abandoned its original intention to be an alternative rock beacon in Telluride, hosting acts like David Byrne & St. Vincent, Cake, and Big Head Todd and the Monsters, in favor of returning southern rock jam band Widespread Panic for the first time since 2003, and also borrowing Telluride Blues & Brews repeat performers Gov’t Mule and The North Mississippi Allstars to round out their headliners. The Ride will also welcome Grammy winner Jonny Lang, and rock ’n’ roll supergroup Trigger Hippy featuring Joan Osborne, Jackie Greene and Steve Gorman of The Black Crowes, Tom Bukovac, and Nick Gorvik. Moon Taxi is also a rising indie rock ensemble with serious talent to take note of in July.

One year away from its 40th anniversary the Telluride Jazz Festival enlists a traditional cast of accomplished jazz artists in Ernie Watts, Bill Frisell Trio, and Joey DeFrancesco Trio to balance out the arrival of legendary funk saxophonist Maceo Parker of the James Brown band and Parliament Funkadelic, New Orleans supergroup The M&Ms featuring Papa Mali, John Medeski, Rob Mercurio, and Stanton Moore, and Telluride favorites The Soul Rebels brass band. Local love comes in the form of Denver’s funk powerhouse Euforquestra featuring Kim Dawson, and genre diversity is personified with steel drum-lead jazz trio Jonathan Scales Fourchestra and New Orleans zydeco standouts Rosie Ledet and the Zydeco Playboys. Don’t miss guitarist Eddie Roberts of the New Mastersounds bringing his new side project Eddie Roberts’ West Coast Sounds featuring Trey Anastasio Band trumpeter Jennifer Hartswick. That is sure to be one of the sets of the Summer.

Compiling the list of performers coming to Telluride this Summer for festival season earns us the continuous title of most spoiled small town in the country. Pack up the skis and bust out the tarps as we embark on yet another sonic journey unlike any other.