Common sound – Telluride Blues and Brews Festival |

Common sound – Telluride Blues and Brews Festival

Cassie Pence
Special to the DailyThe Black Crowes are the opening headliner at the Telluride Blues and Brews Festival Friday night. This tour marks the first time the band has performed together since taking a hiatus in 2001.

TELLURIDE – When Telluride Blues and Brews founder Steve Gumble compares his opening headliner to Led Zeppelin, revelers know pure rock ‘n’ roll is on the bill.The Black Crowes kick off the three-day festival Friday, and the weekend continues with a lineup of musicians whose backbone stands strong in the blues.”People say this isn’t a blues festival,” Gumble said. “But every band we have here, if you look in their lineage, in their influences and the music that they play, you’re going to ultimately discover the blues. All our great rock ‘n’ roll is based in the blues.”

The Black Crowes have been compared to the Rolling Stones, who Gumble argues is one of the most successful blues bands to date, even though 90 percent of fans don’t realize the music stems from blues. Since debuting in 1990 with “Shake Your Moneymaker,” the Black Crowes haven’t wavered in their mission to create genuine rock ‘n’ roll, which has earned them a devoted fan base. The group took a hiatus in 2001, and this tour marks the first time the band has played together since. The first five New York shows sold out instantly, garnering the Black Crowes high-profile invitations to play the main stages at Bonaroo and the New Orleans Jazz Fest before a single note was even played on the tour.”The Black Crowes are a modern-day Led Zeppelin,” Gumble said. “And they’re living proof that people need that injection of rock ‘n’ roll.”Al Green headlines the festival on Sunday. Gumble said he’s honored to host the legendary soul-man and is confident the performance will go down in Blues and Brews history.”Blues was derived from old-time gospel songs,” said Green while on tour. Green’s played all over the world recently, selling out shows in England, Ireland, Scotland and France. Green said he’s never been to Telluride.

Green started singing professionally at age 9 when he and his brothers formed a gospel quartet, but his real success hit when he met producer Willie Mitchell in 1969. Mitchell helped to turn Green into a pop icon with songs like “Let’s Stay Together,” “Love and Happiness” and “Tired of Being Alone.” Most of his songs are synonymous with love.”My music is very sensual,” Green said. “It moves you in a love direction. I met this lady on a plane one time, and she took out a picture of a little girl from her pocket and said, ‘Look what your music made me do.'”Since 1976, however, Green has concentrated on gospel music (which earned him eight Grammies) and has spent his time leading his Baptist church, The Full Gospel Tabernacle, in Memphis, Tenn. On his 2004 release, “Everything’s OK,” Green teamed up with Mitchell again to create an album that is classic R&B Green, but he released it under the name Reverend Al Green in a gesture to tie in his secular and sacred life. Green said he will perform all his fans’ favorites in Telluride.”I’m going to sing the songs that people know, and everyone will get a chance to sing along,” Green said. “And I’m bringing the guys who played it from the beginning. I’m not going to bring some fake guys.”

More music than timeNew this year to the festival is Muddy’s Juke Joint, which will feature free acoustic blues with open mic and cheap beer by day. It’s somewhere festival-goers can go to get out of the sun, Gumble said, but still here music.

By night, Muddy’s will be one of six juke joints hosting music after the main stage in Telluride’s town park closes. Juke Joints are set up in bars and clubs in town and for $20 attendees can buy a wrist band for all six spots. These spots are know to host spontaneous jam session by festival musicians, and Gumble said they set up amps for the occasion.Acoustic blues campPart of the festival’s responsibility, Gumble said, is to sustain the blues genre and keep it evolving. Part of his effort is the Acoustic Blues Camp, a four day school which gives budding musicians the opportunity to study and play with the musicians performing in the festival, like Corey Harris and Chris Thomas King, who garnered fame from his appearances in the film “Ray” and “O Brother, Where Art Thou,” in which he also contributed to the soundtrack.

“It’s not a money-maker,” Gumble said. “It’s part of my personal philosophy in keeping the blues alive. We encourage younger kids to come to the camp to keep the interest alive.”The camp is intimate, about 40 participants, and will teach Fingerstyle, Chicago Blues, and Texas Blues guitar styles, slide guitar, blues mandolin, blues harmonica and vocals. Spaces are still available. For more information, call (866) 515-6166.For more information or a full schedule of Telluride Blues and Brews, log on to

Arts and Entertainment Editor Cassie Pence can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 618, or, Colorado

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