A few tix for Yonder's Kick-Off show may still be available

2017 NightGrass Shows

Trampled By Turtles at the Sheridan (photo Benko Photographics)
Trampled By Turtles at the Sheridan
(photo Benko Photographics)

The sun may set and the temperature may drop, but the music doesn't stop at Telluride Bluegrass... NightGrass is the late-night component of the Telluride Bluegrass Festival.

These intimate indoor shows are held nightly at the historic Sheridan Opera House and Fly Me to the Moon Saloon (both located just a few blocks from the Town Park festival grounds) as well as the Palm Theatre (on the west end of town, an easy walk down Colorado Avenue or serviced by free shuttles). Special shows are also held at the Telluride Conference Center in Mountain Village (a free gondola ride from Telluride).

2017 NightGrass Schedule

  Sheridan
Opera House
Palm Theatre Fly Me to the Moon Telluride Conference
Center
Wednesday
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Yonder Mountain String Band
Thursday Travelin' McCourys Greensky Bluegrass Lindsay Lou & the Flatbellys
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Friday Yonder Mountain String Band Fruition Parker Millsap
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Saturday Red Knuckles & The Trailblazers Elephant Revival Rayland Baxter
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Sunday Punch Brothers
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Wednesday, June 14
Yonder Mountain String Band
16th Annual Bluegrass Kickoff Party with...
  • 9pm show / 8pm doors (All Ages)
  • Telluride Conference Center, 580 Mountain Village Blvd, Mountain Village
  • Tickets: $30 [A few extra tickets available beginning April 27 at 9am MDT at shop.bluegrass.com or 800-624-2422]
For the 16th consecutive year, Festivarians from around the world will board the sunset gondola from Telluride to Mountain Village to celebrate the kick-off of Telluride Bluegrass. It's the official beginning to four adventurous, magical days of music and Festivation in Telluride, with one of Festivarian Nation's favorite bands. It will be one of the sets people talk about all weekend — a high-energy improvisational freak-out, followed by a Festivarian-filled gondola ride descending into the lights of Telluride. If this is your first Telluride, this is where to begin. If it's not your first, well... then you already know. Top
Thursday, June 15
The Travelin' McCourys
  • 11pm show / 10:30pm doors (Ages 21+ unless accompanied by a parent)
  • Sheridan Opera House, 110 North Oak Street, Telluride
  • Tickets: $40 [Sold-out via online lottery April 18-19]
We couldn't have the McCourys could come to Telluride and not play their own epic set... No other band today has the same credentials for playing traditional and progressive music. As the sons of bluegrass legend Del McCoury, Ronnie McCoury on mandolin and Rob McCoury on banjo continue their father's work—a lifelong dedication to the power of bluegrass music to bring joy into people's lives. And with fiddler Jason Carter and bassist Alan Bartram, the ensemble is loved and respected by the bluegrass faithful. But the band is now combining their sound with others to make something fresh and rejuvenating. [more...]

They recently played with the Allman Brothers at Wanee Fest and then brought the house down at Warren Haynes' Annual Christmas Jam, an invitation only Southern Rock homecoming. Their jam with the Lee Boys was hailed by many as the highlight of the evening, and once word of the live video hit the streets, sent new fans online to watch a supercharged combination of sacred steel, R&B, and bluegrass. They've also performed with Warren Haynes, Phish, and have a tour scheduled with the aforementioned Lee Boys. Ronnie McCoury described it as "peanut butter and jelly." It was just right.

They can push forward so far because their roots are so deep. The band has a confidence that only comes with having paid their dues with twenty years on the bluegrass road. Other groups and new fans hear this immediately—the tight rhythm, the soulful material, and the confidence in taking bluegrass from the safety of the shore into uncharted waters.

Ronnie says, "We like to go in and play traditional bluegrass music the way we do it with Dad, but we also like to be able to step into situations where we can really stretch out. If we need to plug in, we'll plug in. We're open to anything."

It's that attitude, backed up by talent, that marks great musicians, traditional or progressive. The Travelin' McCourys are twenty-first century musical pilgrims and adventurers. They're onto something new, just like Bill Monroe was in the 1940s, but now we can see and hear that adventure live or online. Go see them, or—if you hold still long enough—they'll come to you. [less...]
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Greensky Bluegrass
  • 11pm show / 10pm doors (Ages 21+)
  • Michael D. Palm Theatre, 721 West Colorado Avenue, Telluride
  • Tickets: $30 [Sold-out via online lottery April 18-19]
After winning the TBF band contest in 2006, the Kalamazoo quintet have become highly-requested staples of the box canyon. Greensky NightGrass sets continue to dominate chapters of the NightGrass scrapbook: closing their '12 Sheridan Saturday show with a series of unforgettable encores in the park outside the venue; an artfully choreographed reunion of Broke Mountain (featuring members of Infamous Stringdusters) at the '13 Palm. What story will you be telling the grandkids about GSBG's Palm '17...? Top
Lindsay Lou and the Flatbellys
  • 11pm show (Ages 21+)
  • Fly Me to the Moon Saloon, 136 E Colorado Ave, Telluride
  • Tickets: $25 [Sold-out via online lottery April 18-19]
On their new album, Ionia, blazing hot Michigan roots ensemble Lindsay Lou & The Flatbellys rest on the cusp of change, poised at that moment where everything shifts into high gear and time rushes forward. As a tight-as-hardwood stringband, these ace players know how to sustain this moment expertly, relishing the tension between the past, which keeps pulling them backwards, and the future they're about to rush into. You can hear this tension musically on their new album, especially on the leading song Hot Hands, which rabbits playfully between off meters, rapid-fire picking, stop-and-go bass lines, and steamy vocals that surge back and forth. There's incredible kinetic motion in this music, a sense of movement so exacting and precise that it's almost architectural. [more...]

Over the course of four days during a Michigan autumn, Lindsay Lou & The Flatbellys holed up in their home to record their new album. Gathered in a circle, aound one microphone, forcing them to lean closer and closer, blending vocals and instruments organically, and to listen with the kind of musical precision that's all too rare these days. “We didn't leave the house for those four days except to walk around the block and get some air”, Lindsay explains. “Fall in Michigan is something to behold. Some of our favorite moments were standing on the big wrap around porch (pictured on the album cover) and watching the rain come down in sheets taking gusts of orange and yellow leaves with it.” Holed up against the elements, Lindsay Lou & The Flatbellys turned to each other for support, and this closeness is easily evident in the uncommon depth and sensitivity of their ensemble playing.

Listen to the new album from Lindsay Lou & The Flatbellys and you'll hear a band at the very top of its game. A band uncommonly attuned to each other, the product of near-constant touring and live shows made legend by their infectious, high-energy performances. Performing live, the Flatbellys delight in swapping instruments back and forth, and this is preserved on the album as well, with each band member taking turns on each other's instruments. There's a great sense of play and warmth in their music as well — just listen to the fantastically sarcastic Criminal Style or the lovely housewarming song House Together — no doubt bolstered by long car rides and a strong camaraderie between the band members. But much of the power of this interplay comes from the impressive mastery each member shows over their instruments. Mandolinist Joshua Rilko picks with a careful precision that turns surprising when he slams into speedy power chords, dobro player Mark Lavengood is remarkably deft at matching melody lines with quick responses, and bassist PJ George creates bass lines cleverly crafted to uphold the whole structure of the songs. Leading the group, Lindsay Lou has the kind of voice you can get lost in. One part jazz singer, effortlessly transitioning octaves, one part blues shouter, soaring over the band like a clarion call, and one part folk singer, rousing them all together in song.

The instruments and the bedrock of the band may come from bluegrass, but the music that Lindsay Lou & The Flatbellys present on their new album Ionia can best be described as Americana. This is music that's caught between the pull of the past and the push of the beckoning future, ready to leap forward bursting with new ideas and youthful energy. [less...]
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Friday, June 16
Yonder Mountain String Band
  • 11pm show / 10:30pm doors (Ages 21+ unless accompanied by a parent)
  • Sheridan Opera House, 110 North Oak Street, Telluride
  • Tickets: $40 [Sold-out via online lottery April 18-19]
This whole NightGrass "lottery" really started with Yonder's epic Friday nights at the Sheridan. This was the show for Festivarians -- the hot ticket. That was 6 years ago, and nothing has changed about this late-night Kinfolk throwdown at the Sheridan. One of the biggest names in progressive acoustic music plays their most intimate show of the year on a crazed Friday night in Telluride. So um, yeah, start filling out that lottery form right now. Top
Fruition
  • 11pm show / 10pm doors (Ages 21+)
  • Michael D. Palm Theatre, 721 West Colorado Avenue, Telluride
  • Tickets: $30 [Sold-out via online lottery April 18-19]
The first time they ever made music together, Fruition’s three lead singer-songwriters discovered that their voices naturally blended into beautiful three-part harmonies. In the eight years since that impromptu busking session, the Portland, Oregon-based quintet has grown from a rootsy, string-centric outfit to a full-fledged rock band with an easy but powerful grasp of soul, blues, and British Invasion era pop. [more...]

On their new album Labor of Love, Fruition shows the complete force of their newly expanded sound, matching their more daring musicality with sophisticated, melody-minded song craft. The album subtly imparts the sense of being swept along on a journey, one reflecting an open-hearted spirit that sets in from the first notes of the dobro, mandolin and electric guitar driven title track, carries on to the sleepy soul of “Santa Fe,” and unfolds into the epic balladry of “The Meaning.”

“A common theme for all three songwriters is trying to embrace being out on the road all the time, but also feeling like you’re missing out on the everyday lifestyle that most people get to have,” says Leonard. Embedded within that tension is a wistful romanticism that imbues many of the album’s songs. “Most of the love songs are very much about those rare moments of getting to be with the people you love,” says Anderson. “And then other songs are about coming back to the people you love, and trying to deal with the strange ways things change because of being apart.”

After releasing their debut EP Hawthorne Hoedown in 2008, Fruition moved from busking on the street, to scraping their way onto the lower levels of festival lineups, to opening tours for bands like ALO and Greensky Bluegrass and onward, to being invited to play bigger festivals with ever bigger billing on those lineups.

Last year saw them appear at Bonnaroo, Northwest String Summit and Telluride Bluegrass where Rolling Stone cited their artful choice of covers and “raucous originals filled with heartfelt lyrics and stadium-worthy energy.” This year will see them share a Red Rocks bill with JJ Grey and Mofro and The Infamous Stringdusters, along with a full headline tour of the United States.

That breadth of touring experience has steadily reshaped the band and ultimately allowed them to achieve a sound they’ve long aspired toward. “We all tend to write on acoustic guitar and let things start in the same stripped-down, folky sort of way that we always did,” says Naja. “So where the songs come from hasn’t really changed much at all. What’s different is where we let them go from there.” [less...]
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Parker Millsap
  • 11pm show (Ages 21+)
  • Fly Me to the Moon Saloon, 136 E Colorado Ave, Telluride
  • Tickets: $25 [Sold-out via online lottery April 18-19]
Parker Millsap didn’t know not to sing like this. Listening to old albums as a kid alone in his room, he didn’t realize howling like a Delta blues ghost readying the world for rock-and-roll isn’t a how skinny white boy from Purcell, Oklahoma usually sounds. “I was listening to records from the 20s and 40s, and the voices that came out were otherworldly,” Millsap says. “I was really attracted to that. At the same time, I grew up doing congregational singing in church––you know, everybody stands up, grabs a hymnal, turns to number 162, and sings ‘I’ll Fly Away’ at the top of their lungs. I learned to sing in that context, where nobody’s listening to you. We are all just singing.” [more...]

People not listening to Millsap could only last so long––not just because the arresting power of his voice cuts through any crowd, but also because the 22 year-old is always reaching for something worth saying.

New album The Very Last Day (Okrahoma Records/Thirty Tigers) proves an ideal vehicle for Millsap’s message, delivered via gospel-tinged rock-and-roll poetry. In the midst of a world so fond of condemnation as entertainment, Millsap offers open-armed love of people and their stories. Whether he’s singing from the perspective of a young gay man longing for his evangelical father’s acceptance, or as the King of the Underworld wild with passion, his character-driven songs mine deep wells of joy and despair to create gut-punching narratives that are sometimes hellish, sometimes heavenly, and always human. [less...]
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Saturday, June 17
Del McCoury Band
  • 11pm show / 10:30pm doors (Ages 21+ unless accompanied by a parent)
  • Sheridan Opera House, 110 North Oak Street, Telluride
  • Tickets: $40 [Sold-out via online lottery April 18-19]
It's Bluegrass Saturday night and the guys from Hot Rize were busy. So they put us in touch with the band that travels in the back of their bus. And the rest is...a rather questionable decision. The foursome (Red Knuckles, Wendell Mercantile, Waldo Otto, and Swade) plays '40s and '50s country music as well as you might expect from people who have mostly listened to the same jukebox for most of their lives. That jukebox, at the Eat Cafe in Wyoming, MT, is where Red and the boys first met Hot Rize and agreed to leave their home to pursue fortune and fame. The "fortune" part notwithstanding, the 'Blazers have become famous for their original brand of entertainment, including Wendell's "take-off" guitar. Knuckleheads have been begging for this NightGrass show for years. While others were shocked by the 'Blazers epic/dystopian festival closing set at the 2015 RockyGrass. Grab your fringe: this is a night you won't want to miss. Top
Elephant Revival
  • 11pm show / 10pm doors (Ages 21+)
  • Michael D. Palm Theatre, 721 West Colorado Avenue, Telluride
  • Tickets: $30 [Sold-out via online lottery April 18-19]
A haunting sound, at once evocative and mysterious, ushers in Petals, the latest album by Elephant Revival. Notes rise and suffuse the silence; are joined by a deep bass drone, a quiet pulse of cello and a percussive tick: daybreak made music. That first sound on the lead track, "Hello You Who," is a steel guitar, and its cinematic swell foreshadows the exploration of new territory by this beloved Rocky Mountain ensemble. [more...]

A new band member and the introduction of instruments like the pedal steel and the cello into their already impressive treasure trove of strings and percussion are just the beginning. Petals embodies a deepening, as the quintet dives into themes of loss and rebirth, time and memory, love unbound by body or farewell. "Hello you who moves with me in a dance/Hello you who moves me like the sea/…Who loves me Love loves me just to be." This hello is both a celebration of unconditional love and an invitation to join Elephant Revival in its wayfaring.

The death of a close friend having left its indelible mark on the band, many of the songs on Petals represent what guitarist Daniel Rodriguez calls "an honoring and a coping." But this is not an album about despair or darkness; it's a thanksgiving and a prayer for what endures and returns. "She thanks the sky, and she walks the earth/…To the broken-hearted, to the burdened, too/To everyone, peace tonight" ("Peace Tonight"). This idea is embodied in the very name Elephant Revival: moved by the separation and subsequent death of three elephants at the Chicago zoo, bass and mandolin player Dango Rose was inspired to busk in front of what was once their enclosure. Not just a gesture, but a true endeavor to create meaning and grace from loss. Petals, the band's fourth album, is, in fact, a revival.

As ever, Nature is both a real and metaphorical touchstone in Elephant Revival's work, from the petals pressed into the book of memory in the title track ("These petals intended for giving release"), to the seasons spinning through death and rebirth in "Season Song." There are intimations too, of the ominous vulnerability of Nature to our darker impulses. In "Raindrops," Bonnie Paine sings, "Raindrops on the rooftops he said/Just stop and listen/Constant as the earthquakes." She is both warning of the real effects of fracking and reminding us that a remedy may lie in deep listening—to each other and to the earth itself. The band's commitment to community and the environment remains at the core of their music.

Elephant Revival's music maintains its roots in American and Celtic songcraft, but on Petals, they achieve a compositional maturity that in moments can evoke the modern classical ensemble. Spare, almost conversational strings punctuate the rhythmic momentum in songs like the title track and the almost archetypically stark Celtic narrative, "Furthest Shore," a continuation of the story told in the song "Currach" from their first 2008 self-titled release. The icy drama of the North Sea inhabits those percussive strings and resounding drums. This kind of intensity recurs in other songs, like "When I Fall," a Dango Rose-penned shout-out for transcendence through trial, whose unison power chorus brings to mind Pink Floyd's The Wall.

Passion arises from compassion on this album; tenderness and wildness go hand in hand. Dan Rodriguez' voice on wholehearted folk songs like "On and On" and "Home In Your Heart" is a gentle counterpoint to Paine's vocal intensity, and the songwriting overall describes a wide arc. Just follow Bridget Law's expressive fiddle through the course of the album to hear the moan of the blues, the lyricism of the folk ballad, the elegant bones of the chamber piece, the bluegrass punch. All the earthy rhythms, eclectic influences and the rich instrumental brew that Elephant Revival fans cherish are here. But eclecticism, though a key feature of their sound, has never been the point. For these multi-instrumentalists, these singers and writers, sound and song serve one another: the play between instrumentation, composition, emotion and restraint is an organic unfolding. Paine, for example, has never recorded or performed on the cello before this album, but she's written songs on it for years, so if her throaty cello somehow sounds like a deep extension of her voice, it is. And if new band member Charlie Rose's magnetic pedal steel conjures ghosts—of love, of landscapes—it's because Petals is haunted by those things.

Elephant Revival's is the music of connection—kin-folk—and the message of Petals, their most intimate album to date, is not how life is about loss, but rather how much life there is in loss, how much potency, how much love. The ghost of the beloved in the final track "Close As Can Be" is not, after all, far away. "…I feel you near/You're lifting the leaves/Saying to me/We'll be close as can be." The hello of the first song has gone on a musical odyssey and found in the end, in goodbye, its mirror image: the promise once more of unending and unconditional love. [less...]
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Rayland Baxter
  • 11pm show (Ages 21+)
  • Fly Me to the Moon Saloon, 136 E Colorado Ave, Telluride
  • Tickets: $25 [Sold-out via online lottery April 18-19]
Rayland Baxter is a gentleman, a singer of songs, a teller of tales, a picker of strings, a thinker of things. About his latest Imaginary Man, Stereogum proclaims, “this record is choose-your-own-adventure indie-country-bliss…Baxter proves that Nashville sensibilities can work like a prism: filtering indie, pop, outlaw and gospel into the musical ethos of a single man. One thing’s for sure, he’s got a hell of an imagination.” [more...]

Born in the untamed hills of Bon Aqua, Tennessee, he tells a story unlike any other, a story that is true and full of unraveling emotion. There are no lines drawn, no box to be found, in the world of rayLand Baxter. He is who he is and he tells the unmatched story. Whether it be the story of love, the story of struggle, or the story of joy, the road that he travels on is full of dust and flowers, fire and ice, comets and dreams, and he walks with stars in his eyes, leaving the scent of wild magnolias for those on his trail...and for those of us at the end, we are fortunate to find him smiling. Tradition is a staple in Rayland's music. In any given song, one can hear the nuances of his favorites from Dylan to Van Zandt, Johnson to Hopkins, or anyone else on the musical map that has tickled his fancy at one time or another. His reconstruction of song is mesmerizing in its own right...a true artist...a humble man...a dreamer. [less...]
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Sunday, June 18
Punch Brothers
  • 10:30pm show / 10pm doors (Ages 21+ unless accompanied by a parent)
  • Sheridan Opera House, 110 North Oak Street, Telluride
  • Tickets: $40 [Sold-out via online lottery April 18-19]
After the last note has been played on the main stage, musicians make their way to the Sheridan for the festival's final epic jams, wringing every last drop of music out of the artists who have defined our 4 days of acoustic adventure. Many emotional notes will be played and sung deep, deep into this night as we bid farewell to another TBF. Much like Yonder's Wednesday night kick-off party, this show has become an essential part of the Telluride Bluegrass experience. The Punch Brothers are the soundtrack to our journey home; they are the musical guide to set us on our way toward the 45th Telluride Bluegrass next Summer Solstice. Top

Special thanks to our NightGrass partner...
New Belgium Brewing