19th Annual Telluride Blues & Brews Festival

A weekend full of perfect weather, delicious beer, iconic artists, and a scenery that can only be appreciated in person, this was the The 19th Annual Telluride Blues and Brews Festival. If you haven’t had the opportunity to make it to the festival, I strongly encourage you to do so, however, make sure you are prepared for both warm weather and cold. We thought we were coming well-prepared for the cooler temperatures, but with not a cloud in the sky, I ended up with a bit of a sunburn in 70 degrees. Be sure to bring shorts and tank tops (and sunscreen) for the day but the second that sun passes behind the mountains, be sure you have brought long johns, a winter jacket, and close-toed shoes. Also, a wagon is a must for hauling your camping gear to your campsite, this will save you five trips. And above anything, a bike is a necessity, and not just a road bike. The festival lies at the end of the town and while it isn’t a long walk, you are able to see more and get around more quickly on a bike. Around the campsite and festival grounds, it is unpaved so I would suggest a mountain bike. And that is my rant.

The crowd enjoying the 19th Annual Telluride Blues and Brews Festival (Photo credit: Amanda Spilos)

And now, the meat and potatoes of the weekend. A number of factors make this festival what it is and sets the standard of quality. When camping, you must park in overnight parking which led us to the top of Mountain Village. This sounded like an inconvenience at first, but we parked at the gondola and took it straight into the heart of Telluride, enjoying three miles and thirteen minutes of scenic Colorado. Walking back to our campsite we noticed lines of folks with their lawn chairs, tarps, and coolers waiting for hours. Perplexed, and wondering if we should be doing the same, I asked what was going on. It is called “The Running of the Tarps”; attendees start lining up hours before the festival grounds open in hopes to lay their tarp and snag the best spot for the entire day. Some huge names ranging from Robert Randolph, The B-52s, Phil Lesh, Gov’t Mule, and so on graced one stage throughout the day. This is something that I enjoyed of a smaller festival, music does not overlap. I’ve paid the $300.00 Bonnaroo ticket and had to compromise my time, splitting it between acts, this was not the case this weekend. The music was prompt and started on schedule. Yes, you heard that correctly. Top-notch artists understand why you travelled long and far, they didn’t pull a Kanye.

Robert Randolph (Photo Credit: Amanda Spilos)

Friday’s lineup included Robert Randolph, Little Feat, and the B-52s among others (full lineup listed below). Robert Randolph with his giant grin, was great for a day show. The crowd was dancing and taking it all in on that first day. The B-52s were.. interesting. I didn’t know what to think but all I knew was that I had to stick around to hear “Love Shack”, you could tell they were less than enthused to play it for the billionth time. However, the costume contest was something for conversation.

The B-52s (Photo Credit: Amanda Spilos)

Saturday was my favorite day, not just because of the Grand Tasting with over fifty Microbrews, but also for the talented music from Monophonics, Orgone, Anders Osborne, and Gov’t Mule. Warren Haynes is the man! Back to the beer tasting for just a minute; the Saturday crowd had three hours to try ninety-six different beers from microbreweries all over the country. The winner for the third year in a row, and my favorite, was Eddyline Brewery from Buena Vista, CO. Later that evening, after a little afternoon nap, we attended a late night show with The Lee Boys from Miami. Although it was bitter cold, they had the small crowd dancing so much you were peeling off layers. 

Beer tasting (Photo Credit: Amanda Spilos)

Eddyline Brewery: Winning brewery for the third year in a row (Photo Credit: Amanda Spilos)

Warren Haynes (Photo Credit: Amanda Spilos)

Sunday we took it easy. I made pancakes and bacon, we cruised the town, and we packed up the car. We wanted to beat the rush Monday morning (which was the best idea we had all weekend) and camped just outside of Telluride in a National Forest. Sunday brought acts like The Lee Boys (again), Kelley Hunt, The Chris Robinson Brotherhood, and Phil Lesh & Friends: Warren Haynes, Grahame Lesh (son), Brian Lesh (son), Tony Leone, and Jeff Chimenti (from Furthur). Phil’s set spanned from 6 pm until 10 pm; festival-goers certainly got their money’s worth with that show, packed full of Grateful Dead tunes. 

Chris Robinson (Photo Credit: Amanda Spilos)

Phil Lesh and Friends (Photo Credit: Amanda Spilos)

In all, the festival was amazing and friendly for all ages. There was plenty to do outside of the festival and plenty to eat if you grew sick of camp food (I would recommend the dumplings from Sisters’ Pantry, if you’re nice she will throw in an extra dumpling or wonton). It was a beautiful weekend and I will certainly be back next year. To see more photos from the weekend, click here.

Phil Lesh of The Grateful Dead (Photo Credit: Amanda Spilos)


Friday, September 14: Pickwick | Little Hurricane | Heartless Bastards | Robert Randolph & the Family Band | Little Feat | The B-52s

Saturday, September 15: Grand Tasting with over 50 Microbrews | Monophonics | Orgone | MarchFourth MArching Band | Anders Osborne | Acoustic Blues Competition Winner | Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue | Gov’t Mule

Sunday, September 16: The Lee Boys | Kelley Hunt | Phil Wiggins & Rev. John Wilkins | Tab Benoit | The Chris Robinson Brotherhood | Phil Lesh & Friends

The Motet at Cervantes: 1/28 & 1/29: Review

HOLY DANCE PARTY. Friday and Saturday at Cervantes brought the madness with two sold out shows featuring The Motet.  Some of the most talented musicians Denver has, brought together by Dave Watts to bring a raw, funky twist on some favorite covers.  Friday night was Funk is Dead, a tribute to The Grateful Dead while Saturday was the Best of Halloween bringing an array of covers from your favorite Halloween show. It was a fun, funky-filled weekend full of singing and dancing, displaying some serious local talent.

Friday night was ridiculously packed and as a person of 5'3", I was nervous! Thankfully, I found my niche on the upstairs balcony near the fan that cooled the sweaty cluster of people below me. The stage was blanketed in red roses and skulls, paying adoration to a truly iconic band, The Grateful Dead. As the show started, they did not hesitate to dive right in, starting things off with a little jam session including six musicians before bringing the rest of the band to the stage. As they started to file in, I had forgotten what twelve people on stage looked like; insanity yet so much fun. Once all twelve members were accounted for, the band got funky playing “Help on the Way”. There is certainly an art to a Grateful Dead setlist, and lucky for me I had my resident Dead head, Andy, with me. If it weren’t for him explaining when one song actually stopped and the other started, I couldn’t truly appreciate the ridiculous technical talent these guys have. Their fifteen minute jam sessions were comparable to the Dead’s, but with their own funky, Motet twist. Other great covers included  “Slipknot”, “Franklin’s Tower”, “Sampson and Delilah”, “Dancin’ in the Streets”, and “Scarlet Begonias” to name just a few.

Saturday night brought the Best of Halloween and while the vibe was a bit more tamed, it was definitely a sold out show and Halloween in January. The band also celebrated drummer Dave Watts’ birthday with the rest of Cervantes, the man behind the band. Sadly, though, I felt underdressed and kind of lame that I was not in my finest costume; I didn’t put two and two together. The ones that did dress up, however, made up for everyone else. I saw some pretty outrageous costumes that night, like the guy that had a fuzzy vest-like dress with glowing balls on it. You heard me. It was AWESOME. If anyone can identify this man, I will buy you Taco Bell. Again, I found my niche on the balcony, this time on the other side. The show started with some Jamiroquai; a great introduction to the night followed by The Beatles, “We Can Work It Out”. There was no telling what was coming up next and to my surprise and delight, the band started playing Prince. It was pretty amazing to see how vast the talent on stage was. They had no limitations to what they were capable of, all while making the covers their own. Every thing had a funky twist to it making it easy to dance to. The Motet’s version of Tower of Power’s “What is Hip?” had everyone dancing and really showcased the bassist’s talent as he played one of the most difficult bass lines effortlessly.

It’s always fun when you can sing along with the band and The Motet is always a blast. They are some outrageously talented musicians and they always bring the party. They are taking their show around Colorado and making their way around the west before heading east this year. The band will be busy but make sure you check them out at the Snowball Music Festival in Vail this year and show your support for the Denver music scene.