Steve at Telluride #3: The Tim and Jerry Show
Tim Obrien and Jerry Douglas
One of the big stories this year is Jerry Douglas’s 25th anniversary at the festival. To commemorate, he’s all over the lineup this weekend, playing with Elvis Costello Friday night, fronting his own Jerry Douglas Band on Saturday afternoon, and helping close out the festival Sunday night as part of the Telluride House Band, not to mention, we can assume, several guest appearances throughout the fest. So, appropriately, organizers have him opening the whole shebang this morning, as well, and it’s a thrill to see him take the stage alongside another beloved Telluride legend, Tim O’Brien, who is here for his 34th time. Tim also has his own set later—the Tim O’Brien Band plays on Sunday—but this morning we get to see just the two of them on stage, no other musicians, cutting the ribbon on the 36th annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival.
And with “Look Down That Lonesome Road,” the duo kicked off an excellent twelve-song set. Tim, looking young and rocking a “Del Yeah” t-shirt, moved from banjo (with his disclaimer that “the banjo is the most feared instrument in bluegrass, so I wanted you to get used to it right away”) to guitar to fiddle to mandolin, alongside Jerry’s dobro. Tim’s versatility gave him an excuse to make a joke about the economy, which perhaps has kept this year’s attendance down a bit–when introduced by Jerry as “playing many instruments,” Tim quipped, “And they’re all for sale.” Tim is, after all, perhaps the smoothest stage banterer of his generation, and if Jerry’s dobro is one of the defining sounds of modern acoustic music, then Tim’s warm voice is like a comfortable old shoe. Pick moment of the set? Their tight, frenetic take on Hendrix’s “Hey Joe.” A terrific start to the festival.
PS The VIP area was full of artists watching the set, and sitting directly behind me was John Oates of Hall & Oates–a very surreal moment.