Telluride Bluegrass Festival: 40 Years of Festivation

TBF40Book-Cover-HiResPlanet Bluegrass will mark the 41st edition of their Telluride Bluegrass Festival this summer with a limited edition, collector’s coffee table book.

Telluride Bluegrass Festival: 40 Years of Festivation is a hardbound, 216 page volume filled with high resolution photographs, essays from noted Telluride performers, and year-by-year accounts of the festival from 1974 forward.

The book’s primary author is longtime festival MC, Pastor Mustard (Dan Sadowsky), with contributions by Sam Bush, Chris Thile, Bela Fleck, Emmylou Harris, Winston Marshall (of Mumford & Sons) and many others. More than 350 photographs grace its pages, including images of Telluride as a 19th century pioneer town, to pictures of every imaginable aspect of the festival up to the current day. Several are full page or double truck.

Each year’s entry includes a list of performers, the festival’s promotional poster, a plethora of snapshots from the stage and the grounds, and a remembrance from Sadowsky. One such example follows:

Telluride 6The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band appeared in ’86 with its colorful Nudie Cohen suits and big white hats. I’m astonished at how many musicians came to the Bluegrass music through a 1972 double album, Will The Circle Be Unbroken, by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Nick Forster of Hot Rize admitted as much, for instance. In the early eighties NGDB set up headquarters in Aspen so it was altogether fitting and proper they should mosey down to Telluride. NGDB was also one of those groups that started as a jug band, except with guys like Jackson Browne and Bernie Leadon of the Eagles. The watch works of the Dirt Band’s universe meshed tangentially with acts in the TBF mechanism. They were a bigger-venue act, until one June night in 1986. Of their many incarnations, their lineup that night with Jimmy Ibbotson remains my favorite.

5,000 copies of the Festivation book will be printed, and initially offered only during the festival. Planet Bluegrass will announce ways to get a copy should any remain afterward. No price has been announced for the book.

The Telluride festival has grown so large over those 40 years that the town, primarily a ski resort and tourist destination, requires Planet Bluegrass to limit the number of tickets sold to ensure that the former mining community’s roads and amenities can handle the visitors.

Tickets are still available for the June 19-22 event this year, though it typically sells out by festival time.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.