:: June 21, 2014 ::
:: Day 3 ::
Photos by Josh Elioseff
Text by Andrew Martin
Ahoy! (Punch Brothers)
As always, the Punch Brothers delivered an amazing set of music. It was a great mix of tunes – some really energetic, some more intricate, but always with tremendous dynamics. The band played a few new songs that will be on their upcoming album along with many of their signature tunes.
One of the highlights for me was Movement and Location. The textured rhythm layers reverberated off the canyon walls throughout the song, giving it a vibrant, bouncing quality. Aoife O’Donovan came out and sang a few songs. The first was a Seldom Scene tune. The other was Here and Heaven, a song she co-wrote with Thile for the Goat Rodeo Sessions album.
The Punch Brothers closed the set with a spirited Rye Whiskey and encored with The Auld Triangle, an a cappella song they recorded for the movie Inside Llewyn Davis. The 5 part harmonies blended together seamlessly, creating a textured vocal layer that proved a very powerful way to end the set.
The Infamous Marshmallow Fight (Yonder Mountain String Band)
It seems like the marshmallow fight is becoming a tradition during Yonder’s Saturday afternoon set on the main stage. This is at least the 3rd consecutive year I’ve seen marshmallows launched through the crowd and at the band. Due to a cool, cloud-covered afternoon, they weren’t sticking to your feet as much as in the past. But this year people seemed a little overzealous with the marshmallows, which launched through the sky as the band started their first song.
Joined by Ronnie McCoury and Jason Carter once again, Yonder delivered a great set. This lineup logged a lot of hours together at the festival, and the music kept getting tighter with each set. There were two main highlights for me. The first was an energetic version of David Grisman’s EMD featuring ripping solos by Jason Carter and Ronnie McCoury.
The other highlight came late in the set when the band brought out Sam Bush, John Frazier (mandolin), and Alan Bartram (bass). They launched into a hard-grooving version of Kentucky Mandolin. In the middle, Ben Kaufmann and Alan Bartram started trading off on bass, eventually going into an extended tease of Another One Bites the Dust before settling into a section where the two traded bass solos. After handing the bass back and forth for a while, they started playing simultaneously, with Bartram laying down the rhythm and Kaufmann playing more of a lead soloist role. The rest of the band joined them once again, and it grew into a big mandolin trade between Sam, Ronnie and John. This was as epic a Yonder moment as I’ve seen on the main stage.
40 Years with the King of Telluride (Sam Bush)
This year marked the 40th consecutive year Sam Bush has headlined Telluride Bluegrass Festival. His set is always a high point of the weekend, and this year was no different. There were some poignant, soulful moments such as the song Circles Around Me, which Sam wrote about Telluride Bluegrass, and the feel-good Everything is Possible. But for the most part, this was a really rocking set.
At one point, Sam brought out a “mandolin orchestra” which turned out to be a “who’s who” of mandolin players at the festival. Chris Thile, Ronnie McCoury, Sarah Jarosz, Drew Emmit, Frank Solivan, and several others joined the band on Russian Rag. There were other special guests featured during the set, including Bela Fleck, Bill Payne, and Del McCoury.
While the litany of special guests may have stolen the spotlight, this set was really about the riveting music being laid down by Sam’s band. They are all exceptional players, and they delivered a high energy set of really tight music.
Sam Bush whipped the crowd into a frenzy, but Leftover Salmon kept them there all night long. You needed your dancing shoes to enjoy this set of freewheeling, rollicking good times/party music. Bill Payne is a huge addition to Leftover Salmon’s sound, providing a rootsy, honky tonk groove that complements Drew Emmitt’s and Andy Thorn’s musicianship really well. Vince Herman brought great energy, proving once again that there are very few who can connect with the Telluride crowd as well as he does.
Sam Bush sat in on several tunes near the end of the set, adding to the energy and vibe of the music while several people in the crowd danced around with glowing white jellyfish. This was a set for the ages.
Late Night Town Park Jamming
There was only 1 thing to do after a night of such high energy music – head to Town Park and start jamming. After bouncing from tent to tent for a while, I found a crowded camp watching a jam led by Leftover Salmon’s Vince Herman. I was able to catch the last few songs of this jam before Vince moved on, taking a good part of the crowd with him.
The departure of Vince and his entourage allowed me to move closer to the center of the tent, and I joined the remaining musicians. At about the same time, several new players filed into the tent, and a new jam session emerged from the ashes of the old one. We had a really spirited jam going, with a lot of great interaction between all the players. I finally left the group at around sunrise, but the music raged on long after I departed for sleep.