The tents have been assembled; the speakers have been hung; the giant columbines and mining cart tracks are finding their place on the Shellman stage; and everywhere in Telluride is a singular sound: Bluegrass.
We're just 2 days away from the call of bagpipes filling the box canyon as Festivarian tarp runners stake their claim on the sacred turf of the 38th Annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival.
35-year Telluride Bluegrass veteran Tim O'Brien (who opens the festival with legendary Irish fiddler Kevin Burke) sets the tone for our Solstice celebration at 8,750': "This weekend is about meeting old friends and making new ones in a cocoon of fresh air, mountain scenery, and homemade music. An annual mental health checkup."
As a reminder: all festival tickets and camping are completely sold-out. As you make the final pass through your festival checklist, be sure to quadruple check that you have your tickets. (Along with - of course - your vintage beer cup, reusable water bottle, sunscreen, rain gear, warm late-night clothes, sturdy camp gear, etc.)
The festival box office is located at the east end of Pacific Avenue right next to the main festival entrance. Be sure to pick up a free pocket schedule (with this year's Eco-Punchcard) for yourself, as well as this year's collectible full-color 52-page program for your group – which includes features about the history of the Telluride House Band, an insider's tour of the backstage, the unique problem of festival waste in Telluride, artist bios (to remind you why every single set this weekend is essential listening), 2/3 for Town Park and Campsite Challenge, and much more. If you don't plan to take your program home with you, be sure to pass it along to another Festivarian or recycle it at the end of the night in the special bins by the exit.
Thanks to many of our festival artists and to community radio KOTO, we will once again be broadcasting much of the festival – both on terrestrial radio at 89.3fm / 91.7fm in Telluride and streaming worldwide at www.koto.org. If you can't join us in the box canyon, setup your tarp in the backyard, grab a Fat Tire, and listen to the festival in your own virtual Telluride.
If you're on Twitter, be sure to include the hashtag #tridebg in all your Telluride Bluegrass tweets. We'll be sharing behind-the-scenes photos and the latest festival updates throughout the week via our Twitter account – @planetbluegrass.
Once you're inside the festival, stop by the Country Store to check out all the 38th Annual festival merchandise, as well as the latest additions to the Festivarian Toolkit: stainless steel insulated mugs and camp cups from Klean Kanteen. The Country Store will be hosting artist signings throughout the festival – watch the signboard for the developing schedule.
If you missed out on NightGrass tickets, it's not too late. A few tickets are still available for the Friday NightGrass show at the Palm Theater with The Head & The Heart + Matthew & The Atlas. Get yours in-person at Telluride Music (thru Friday morning) or at the Palm Theater on Friday evening.
As a soundtrack to your final packing, check out this stream of songs from each of this year's Telluride Troubadours. These 10 singer-songwriters will be performing throughout the festival – during the Troubadour contest on Thursday and Friday at Elks Park, live on KOTO, main stage 'tweeners, and in-the-round sets at Elks Park.
Though we're a few days away from Joe Pug's main stage debut (Friday at 10am), Joe wants to be a part of your trek to Telluride right now. Joe is giving away free downloads of his acclaimed debut Nation of Heat to all Festivarians. Download the 5 song EP which NPR hailed for its "beautifully mature voice... and wisdom seemingly beyond his age."
Lest you actually do any work this last day before festivaaaaaaal, here are some preview interviews with some of this year's festival artists: Béla Fleck in the Denver Post; Abigail Washburn in the Huffington Post; and Yonder Mountain String Band, Trampled by Turtles, Sarah Jarosz, Michael Cleveland, Tony Trischka, and many others in Telluride Inside...and Out.
The 38th gathering of Festivarian Nation is upon us. Sunshine is in the sky. Magic is in the air. And the music of Telluride Bluegrass – FirstGrass, Elks Park, NightGrass, Town Park – is about to define the summer of 2011. We'll see you on your tarp.
The Folks on Planet Bluegrass