Telluride Blues & Brews: The Groove Abides

Booker T. Jones

Booker T. Jones

Nothing caps off summer in these mountains quite like the Telluride Blues and Brews Festival. Now in its year #20, the festival’s top cat, Steve “Gumby” Gumble, put together a line-up impressive for its deft blend of rock, blues, funk, indie, and neo-soul. The stunning cradle of mountains that surround Telluride Town Park with their dramatic red rock cliff faces and the near–autumnal aspens changing from green to gold are an inspirational complement to the music happening on the Fred Shellman Stage. The weather is typical San Juan late summer fickle – prepare for everything from blazing sun to snowstorms and your backpack will be complete.

Let’s hop into an overview of summer’s microbrew-fueled, 12-bar blues denouement with a look at this year’s headliners.

Booker T. Jones is a musical legend and a magician on his hallmark instrument, the soulful sounding Hammond B3 organ. I could stop right there, but this hard-working musician would not consider stopping. Booker T. headlines Gumby’s gift of a free concert on Thursday, September 12 beginning at 4 p.m. Booker T. rose to fame with his equally legendary band, The MGs, with classics on the Stax label like “Green Onions,” “Time is Tight,” and Hip Hug Her.” The Rock and Roll and Musicians Hall of Fame inductee heralds his return to the Memphis-based Stax label with his newest record, Sound The Alarm, created with an all-star cast of rising neo-soul and blues stars whose fresh voices and instrumental talents take flight on top of Booker’s solid grooves.

Black Crowes

Black Crowes

Friday, September 13, one of my favorite bands of all time, The Black Crowes, headline with their Southern-steeped, blues-rock brand of ass-kicking some call “freak and roll.” The brothers Chris Robinson (lead vocals) and Rich Robinson (guitar) have assembled a great band for this year’s Lay Down With Number 13 tour. They’ll feature Steve Gorman on drums, and longtime bassist Sven Pipien will be on board, as well. TBB regulars will remember keyboardist Adam MacDougall’s out-of-his-skull playing during his performance with the Chris Robinson Brotherhood in 2012, and will be delighted to welcome back another Telluride favorite, Jackie Greene on guitar and vocals.

I will not be taking any calls during The Black Crowes’ set. That will be me, right up front, flying her freak flag and going to church, in a manner of speaking.

Indie rock fans know Jim James best as the front man for My Morning Jacket. That band’s haunting, aural landscapes bring a truly unique musical vision to the world and resonate long after the music stops. But with the release of James’ solo project

Jim James

Jim James

Indie rock fans know Jim James best as the front man for My Morning Jacket. That band’s haunting, aural landscapes bring a truly unique musical vision to the world and resonate long after the music stops. But with the release of James’ solo project, Regions of Light and Sound of God, the sonic explorer has truly launched into new territory, a place that gently and surely pulls the listener into his sweetly contemplative world. He tackles matters of spirituality, technology and the human condition. At times you’ll hear a song that might remind you of ’70s soul on the radio, but then his more familiar guitar-driven compositions come to the fore. And that voice. It is ethereal at times, plaintive at others, always clear and sincere. Hearing his songs live, under a crisp, Colorado September sky will be nothing short of sublime. James is the Saturday, September 14 headliner.

Melissa Etheridge

Melissa Etheridge

Capping off this fantastic weekend will be Melissa Etheridge on Sunday, September 15. There are many sides to Melissa Etheridge. Mother, gay activist, Academy and Grammy award winner, breast cancer survivor, champion of the environment, rocker. It is the rocker who we will experience as she headlines the final day of TBB 2013. But in her close-to-the-heart, confessional lyrics, we will hear her story with all of its beauty, heartbreak, triumph and hope. A prolific, critically-acclaimed songwriter, Etheridge is touring in support of her 12th record 4th Street Feeling, a musical look back at her Leavenworth, Kansas roots. A killer guitarist, she plays all the guitar parts on the new record and the songs display all the deep confidence and wisdom of someone who has lived her life to its fullest.

Check out these videos to get a taste of these fantastic artists.

Booker T. Jones

The Black Crowes

Jim James

Melissa Etheridge

 

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