Telluride Bluegrass 2016 Finalizes Lineup
The folks at Planet Bluegrass made their final lineup announcements for this year’s Telluride Bluegrass Festival today. Once again (this will be #43) we’ll be treated to “Telluride Bluegrass”, that self-defining non-genre tied to newgrass, but including everything from rock to old-school bluegrass. The lineup recipe is secret, even Colonel Sanders doesn’t know all the ingredients, but all Festivarians know the basics: take a steady group of regulars and mix it with a smaller group of semi-regulars, a pinch of the occasional player, then top it off with just enough new to send you to the local record store (hang in there!), Spotify, or Amazon to get ready for June.
There are a lot of ways to write the 2016 Telluride lineup story lead paragraph. I like the pick-a-day approach, and Saturday is always good.
Ryan Adams will play solo at Telluride this year just after Yonder Mountain plays their late Saturday afternoon set, and just before Sam Bush Band takes the stage. And after that, Leftover Salmon will play the crowd into Sunday. Earlier that day, Mandolin Orange and Tim O’Brien will play. Just another Saturday in paradise at 8700 feet.
So that’s a good choice, but you could write it based on Thursday.
Houndmouth, the roots rock sensation that’s sweeping the Americana nation, will play Telluride Bluegrass this summer. Just a few years after breaking through at SXSW on the strength of a homemade record, Houndmouth have played their share of the big festivals already, but they’ll be the Colorado summer solstice cool kids this year. They play on a Thursday that includes Del McCoury, John Prine, Chris Thile, Bela Fleck and The Flecktones, and Dave Rawlings Machine.
Or, you could focus on Friday. Friday’s always big at Telluride.
Sara Watkins opens the show Friday at Telluride, and Greensky Bluegrass shuts it down. In between, nothing but Balsam Range, Jerry Douglas, Punch Brothers, and the Oh Hellos. Oh, hello! I forgot about Neil Finn. The New Zealander was frontman for Split Enz and Crowded House. Telluride Bluegrass, indeed!
There’s another day, the last day of the festival, first day of the week. The day you start thinking about how it’s almost over this year and noticing the marshmallow stains on your tarp. It’s also often one of the best lineup days. This year is no exception.
The Telluride House Band will literally close the festival this year. Probably the best acoustic band in the world, with Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas, Bela Fleck, Edgar Meyer, Bryan Sutton, and Stuart Duncan. They only play Telluride. It would be worth the trip if that was all you got to see, but a Sunday ticket also gets you sets by Emmylou Harris, The Infamous Stringdusters (with special guest Nicki Bluhm), and Pokey Lafarge, to name a few. Easy like a Sunday mountain festival.
If you want to get away from days, the lead goes something like this:
Planet Bluegrass announced today that Ryan Adams and Houndmouth will join a lineup already including Emmylou Harris, Dave Rawlings Machine, Neil Finn, and Greensky Bluegrass along with Telluride regulars such as Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas, Bela Fleck, Chris Thile, and Tim O’Brien.
I suppose any piece on the Telluride Bluegrass Festival could start out with a reference to the singular overall experience, but it’s been done so many times, always inadequately. The same way the artists playing Town Park stage for the first time almost always comment on the beauty of the scenery, writers always try to explain how unbelievable it is to be in that place at that time. They talk about the seamless one-stage musical experience, the heat of the days, the chill of the nights, the blue sky, the sun setting past the town as John Prine sings “Bear Creek”, the New Belgium beer, the breakfast burritos, the killer flank steak, the tarp run, the dancing hippies, the Festivarian Nation. I’ll skip that.
Maybe the best approach is to print the lineup (artists are in reverse order of appearance) and let the lineup sing for itself.
Thursday, June 16, 2016
* Dave Rawlings Machine * Bela Fleck & The Flecktones * John Prine * Del McCoury Band * Houndmouth * Peter Rowan * Chris Thile *
Friday, June 17, 2016
* Greensky Bluegrass * Neil Finn * Punch Brothers * The Oh Hellos * Jerry Douglas Band * Kruger Brothers with the Kontras Quartet * Balsam Range * Sara Watkins *
Saturday, June 18, 2016
* Leftover Salmon * Sam Bush Band * Ryan Adams * Yonder Mountain String Band * Tim O’Brien Band * Mandolin Orange * The Lil’ Smokies *
Sunday, June 19, 2016
* Telluride House Band featuring Sam, Bela, Jerry, Edgar, Bryan & Stuart * Emmylou Harris * Infamous Stringdusters with special guest Nicki Bluhm * Pokey LaFarge * Sierra Hull * De Temps Antan * Shane Koyczan & The Short Story Long *