:: June 22, 2014 ::
:: Day 4 ::
Photos by Josh Elioseff
Text by Andrew Martin
Jerry Douglas Presents The Earls of Leicester
Jerry Douglas usually plays one of the most diverse sets of the festival, touching on genres such as jazz, rock, blues, bluegrass, country, and everything in between. This year, however, he threw us a curve by keeping it traditional. His band, The Earls of Leicester, played an entire set of Flatt and Scruggs tunes. The band also featured Tim O’Brien on mandolin.
I definitely missed the jazzy, genre-bending diversity I’ve come to associate with a Jerry Douglas Telluride set, but I also really enjoyed the Flatt and Scruggs tribute. The weather shifted from hot and sunny to cool and cloudy all set long, and dark storm clouds loomed in the distance. The band’s laid back vibe was perfect counterpart to the topsy turvy weather, and their music provided a great soundtrack to help me relax after a tumultuous Saturday night.
Greensky Bluegrass is the quintessential acoustic jam band. They have a loose, hanging-on-by-the-rails vibe, and they do it well. The band is slowly working their way into the “usual suspects” category after playing the main stage the last 3 years in a row.
They played a great version of Leap Year, which showcased the band’s jamming abilities. Sam Bush joined them on their last song, a jammy version of Bob Marley’s Could You Be Loved, which brought the house down.
Closing Time (Telluride House Band)
If you don’t stick around to catch the Telluride House Band close out the weekend, you are missing out on one of the greatest musical collaborations of the festival. Sam Bush, Bela Fleck, Jerry Douglas, Edgar Meyer, Stuart Duncan, and Bryan Sutton are old friends with a long history dating back to the days of Newgrass Revival and Strength in Numbers. Each year, they rekindle old flames playing in one of the greatest “pick-up bands” on the planet.
A few songs into the set, the band announced they were going to play a Bela Fleck tune. At this point, I knew they were warmed up and ready to delve into some serious music. From here on out, the band was in a zone, showcasing some jaw dropping musicianship on a mix of ripping instrumentals and old-timey classics.
Alison Krauss joined them about half-way through the set. As her beautiful voice rang out through the canyon, I looked over to my right and noticed the last rays of light disappearing behind the mountains. You could see a dark silhouette of tree-covered mountains extending down from both sides, creating a V-shape that framed a solitary tree with misty clouds hovering towards the leaves. This is what I would call a “Telluride moment.”
The highlight of the set for me was Sailin’ Shoes. Sam Bush and Jerry Douglas did this one as a duet, and I always love hearing them play it. It featured exuberant vocals, driving mandolin rhythm, and some of the tastiest dobro playing you will ever hear. Jerry’s slide solo soared over Sam’s mandolin, ringing throughout the box canyon in a way that was at times dirty, at times nasty, and always right on the money.
With about 4 songs left, Jerry Douglas told the crowd to “Get ready for something big. Really big. As in really big hair.” Out comes Del McCoury to finish the set with the House Band, lending his signature vocals to some bluegrass classics. They did get Del to stray from his roots on the set closer. He nailed all the high notes on a great version of U2’s Pride (In the Name of Love).
I finished out the evening with 1 final late night jam in the Mash tent. Many of the guys playing had been there for the epic sunrise jam the night before. While this one didn’t go as late, it was a fitting end to another magical festival.