Telluride Bluegrass 40th: Sarah Jarosz Returns

We can be a bit dismissive of young people’s capabilities. We tell them there’s an order to things: first grade school, then college, a few jobs, then success, if you’re lucky. But time and time again, we’re proven wrong. Success can come early, very early, especially if you’re a singer/ songwriter/ mandolin picking musical prodigy like Sarah Jarosz.sarahjarosz_7924_72

Jarosz, who’s performing at Telluride Bluegrass on the main stage on Friday at 10 AM and at NightGrass with Elephant Revival on Saturday, received her first mandolin when she was 9. She worked tirelessly to learn the mandolin, picking up the clawhammer banjo and guitar along the way, and by age 11 she traveled to her first Bluegrass gathering. Over the next few years, she earned a reputation as something of a young phenom, as she played her way through the festival circuit.

Jarosz scored a recording deal at age 16 for her debut album Song Up in Her Head. Now 22, she has produced a second album, Follow Me Down, and maintained a full touring schedule, all while earning a Bachelor of Music degree in Contemporary Improvisation from Boston’s New England Conservatory. The hard work has paid off: both of her albums have earned Grammy and Americana Music Association nominations.

Rolling Stone describes Sarah Jorosz as Gillian Welch’s long lost daughter, while The New York Times says that she’s “widely regarded as one of acoustic music’s most promising young talents”.

Yet, Jarosz’s accolades don’t tell the full story. What’s most impressive about Sarah Jarosz is the quality of her music, her soulful melodies combined with lyrics that haunt. “I spin around in your love,” Jarosz sings, “In a place of wonder/I want to wander
With you, my muse/In a dream of carousels/On waves in caravels/Collecting seashells/ for you, my muse.” Even Jarosz’s cover songs can haunt her listeners, particularly her Dylan cover song “Ring Them Bells”.

These songs don’t fall lightly on their listeners; indeed, I often replay them again and again, unable to get them out of my head. Every time I play them I hear something new. This weekend guests at Bluegrass get the chance to experience the same as Jarosz plays throughout the weekend, showering this valley with a lot of love and grace.

Check out Susan Viebrock’s interview with Sarah during Telluride Bluegrass in 2011.

Here her play “Ring Them Bells”.

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