This year’s Telluride Blues and Brews festival was one for the record books. After hearing the campground was to open on Thursday morning the day before the festival began, we decided to make our trip out a day early to get a proper camping spot. A pack of camels, four Big Gulps of Mountain Dew and one 5-hour Energy later, we were finally making our way up the San Juan Mountains to the magical town of Telluirde. When we arrived at 6:30am, we found ourselves 8th in line to get in the campground. After setting up camp and napping the rest of the day, we were invited to an exclusive party where a local musician named AJ Fullerton was playing at Arroyo Wine Bar. This young man had quite the talent as he plucked his custom guitar in front of most of the main festival coordinators, including Steve Gumble, the festival director. Gumble is similar to a baseball talent scout who travels from festival to festival in search of compelling musicians to play at Blues and Brews. This year he put together an incredible arsenal of talent to grace the stage including Denver’s own Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, as well as Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, Rich Robinson of the Black Crowes, Blackberry Smoke, ZZ Top, Bright Light Social Hour, Otis Taylor, Leo “Bud” Welch, Anders Osborne, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, John Hiatt, The Revivalists, Taj Mahal Trio and Gregg Allman of the Allman Brothers.
Not only did Gumble bring in great music, but he also brought out over 55 microbreweries to show off their beers during the Grand Tasting on Saturday as the Bright Light Social Hour rocked out on the main stage. ZZ Top paid tribute to Jimmy Hendrix on Friday night when they played “Foxy Lady” on the 45th anniversary of his death, obviously the crowd was ecstatic! One of the most memorable performances of the weekend was when Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings took the stage on Saturday. For those who didn’t know, Sharon Jones flew out for the festival from upstate New York where she had been undergoing chemotherapy treatment to fight her second battle with cancer. Jones delivered just as she always does with her dance moves and powerful voice, an incredible feat for these circumstances. She truly is the female version of James Brown! She played her song “Get up and Get Out” and even changed up the lyrics to say “Cancer, get out, you’re not welcome here” as a message to show she’s not done fighting. This year also marks the last time you’ll see the Fred Shellman Memorial Stage that has been standing in Town Park for 24 years. Telluride has decided to tear it down to make room for a 1.8 million dollar modern stage that will be showcased next year. We laughed, we cried, we ate and drank our fill. We most certainly will be returning next year for the new stage and to see what Gumble has in store for us. In the meantime, check out our photos from this years festivities.