A taste of Telluride | VailDaily.com

A taste of Telluride

Cassie Pence

TELLURIDE Word on the street was its the hardest ticket to get all weekend, but there I was Sunday night, loitering in front of the Sheridan Opera House. I was hoping someone would sell me a ticket to the very last show of the Telluride Blues and Brews festival.I had yet to make it to one of these late-night jam sessions. Sold out, passed out or pooped out tonight I had no excuses. I couldnt leave Telluride without seeing a Juke Joint show. Its where the magic happens. Its where surprise musicians plug in and play spontaneously. And just as I was thinking that, a tipsy, tottering hipster shoving a hot dog in his mouth appeared, dangling a metallic purple bracelet in front of my face. I had just been miracled.New Orleans Henry Butler was blowing up the tiny theater with his blues piano as I entered. The Sheridans sound was loud and crisp. It was built in 1913 by miners, and restoration has maintained its integrity. You could almost feel and see the raucous bunch hootin and hollerin for the vaudeville shows that used to roll through there. As the full moon over town rose higher and higher, one by one Butlers band members slipped backstage, tired from already performing all day. The crowd, which just hadnt heard enough music the last three days, held Butler hostage on stage, but he didnt mind. His energy never wavered as he sat center stage playing and playing until someone whispered in his ear that it was indeed time to stop. The free ticket was just one of the highlights during a weekend filled with tiny miracles. Id thought the only rock n roll left was the kind playing from my classic rock CDs. The Black Crowes busted on stage Friday night as if to personally prove me wrong. As frontman Chris Robinson put it, We play freakin rock. They havent lost an ounce of cool since taking a hiatus in 2001. The High Country wind whipped through his long, stringy black hair, and Robinson broke out all his best rock-star moves. Sealing their performance with a couple of blazing riffs on the harmonica, Robinson reminded the crowd that the blues is what brought them here. Devoted fans werent disappointed, hearing all their favorites, including Remedy, Jealous Again Thorn In My Pride and Hard to Handle.Playing before the Crowes, Susan Tedeschi opened with Sly and the Family Stones You Can Make It If You Try. Her soulful voice brought the festival back to its roots, and she played several of her own traditional blues songs. Other performance highlights included Maceo Parker on Saturday and Al Green. Green closed out the town park shows Sunday. The stage is clearly like Greens church, and the Reverend had everyone clapping their hands overhead, singing along to his blissful R&B tunes of the 70s. Saturday marked the brew festival with 150 beers on tap. The hardest job of the weekend was rallying to see Robert Cray perform after serious microbrew tasting. Most of the stands ran out of beer just as the 3 oclock bell rang, but Red Stone Meadery kept pouring. People must not realize how good honey wine can taste on a hot September day.Festival founder Steve Gumble must have been praying all year to the gods of finicky mountain weather because the sun only stopped shining against the electric blue sky when the full moon rose up out of the pines. It was perfect weather for morning rides along Tellurides pristine single track, and the afternoons heated up enough to sport summer tanks and flip flops for probably one of the last times of the year. All kinds of folks enjoyed themselves, from families lounging on multi-colored blankets to wing-wearing hula-hoopers who spun around festival boundaries. This summer music road trip couldnt have been more well miraculous.Arts and Entertainment Editor Cassie Pence can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 618, or cpence@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado