Telluride Blues & Brews #26: Overview

Telluride Blues & Brews #26: Overview

The 26th annual Telluride Blues & Brews Festival features the legendary John Fogerty; The Terrapin Family Band; Boz Scaggs; Anders Osborne; Ryan Bingham; and Tab Benoit. And replacing Phil Lesh, who had to back out for back surgery is George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic. The  set could be Clinton’s last show of a career launched in the 1950s.

Other performers include International Blues Challenge Winner Ms.Hy-C & Fresh Start, Joanna Connor Band, Husky & The Slow Attack, Eagle Eye Williamson, Grant Sabin with Michael Jennings, Molly Gene One Whoaman Band, along with five stand-up comedians, and The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, which joined the 2019 lineup later in the game.

The weekend opens on Mountain Village’s Sunset Plaza for a free Sunset Blues Concert on Thursday, September 12, 5 – 7 pm. The event features Southern Avenue and Ida Mae. (Sunset Plaza is just a short, beautiful gondola ride up the mountain from the town of Telluride.) The program and gondola ride are free and open to the public. The show will be held rain or shine. (The Sunset Blues Concert is made possible by the generous support by Telluride Ski Resort, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co, TMVOA, and the Town of Mountain Village.)

Three-day and single-day tickets are on sale now, except for Saturday which is sold out. Three-day passes are $225 plus service fees; single-day passes start at $80. For festival information or to purchase tickets, visit Tickets are also available locally at Telluride Music, 333 West Colorado Avenue.


Telluride Blues & Brews artists perform on three stages under the majestic Rocky Mountain peaks just as the fall foliage season begins to brighten the landscape. And to complement the music, the festival boasts a wide variety of local and regional food and craft vendors, children’s activities, and late-night club shows (Juke Joints).

In addition, attendees are invited to enjoy an assortment of special events throughout the weekend, including the “Blisters & Brews” 5k fundraiser race, free yoga, the Telluride Blues Challenge, Campground Sessions, and the Sunset Blues Concert.

2019 Telluride Blues & Brews Festival, artist lineup:

John Fogerty
Boz Scaggs
Anders Osborne
Ryan Bingham
Tab Benoit
Hiss Golden Messenger
The Allman Betts Band
Samantha Fish
Ruthie Foster
Durand Jones & The indications
Cedric Burnside
Phil Cook
The Como Mamas
Otis Taylor’s Psychedelic Banjo Posse
Southern Avenue
Low Cut Connie
Joanne Shaw Taylor
Ida Mae
Willie Farmer
Jake Xerxes Fussell
Cookie McGee
Sandra Hall
Joanna Connor Band
Mitch Woods
Husky & The Slow Attack
Eagle Eye Williamson
Grant Sabin with Michael Jennings
Molly Gene & The Gasoline
Alex Paul and the Birds of Play – 2018 Telluride Blues Challenge Winner
Scramble Campbell

2019 Stand-Up Comedy Lineup:

Debra DiGiovanni
Caleb Synan
Troy Walker
Candice Thompson
David Stocker

2019 Telluride Blues Challenge Finalists Announced:

Over the past few years, the Telluride Blues Challenge rose to become one of the most distinguished music competitions in the Southwest. Musicians from all over the country submit their best songs for the chance to make the top six and earn an invite to the Blues Challenge Finals held at the Telluride Blues & Brews Festival.

Presented by Telluride Music, Telluride Blues Society and the Colorado Blues Society, the Telluride Blues Challenge gives up-and-coming artists the chance to advance their careers. And every year, Challenge entries impress with high-quality submissions.

This year, 41 entries poured in from around the nation, and so selecting the finalists was not an easy task. But the specialists at Telluride Music managed to narrow the list to the required six, who compete at the Telluride Elks Lodge during the “Blues for Breakfast” event on Saturday, September 14, from 9:00 am to noon.

Below Telluride Music’s Tom Nading weighs in on each finalist.

2019 Finalists:

Cary Morin “With authentic Piedmont Blues fingerstyle chops and smooth, smoky vocals, Cary Morin sent the festival a dynamite submission for this year’s competition. We’re excited to hear his bluesy licks and soulful lyrics in Telluride.”

Cousin Curtiss “Making his second appearance on the Challenge stage in two years, Cousin Curtiss will be bringing the heat with energy, strong vocals, and harmonica like you wouldn’t believe. Even early on Saturday morning, Curtiss will be guaranteed to get the Elks’ Lodge stomping!”

Johnny Boy Kunk“With tasteful slide chops that will make his resonator growl, Johnny Boy Kunk’s sound will make you feel the blues all the way to your toes. Paired with strong vocals, Johnny Boy’s interpretation of the blues takes us down to the crossroads.”

Mike Tolle – “Smooth, practiced chops and lyrics blue to the bone make it clear Mike Tolle is adept in the blues tradition. If it’s in the bones, it’s in the bones.”

Reverend Freakchild – “Reverend Freakchild’s brand of the blues is greasy, raw and steeped in the Delta tradition. When you hear his resonator and harmonica ring out, you’ll know you’re at the revival.”

Trent Grabert“Trent Gabert’s smooth style and polished vocals deliver an interpretation of the blues that shows a deep appreciation for generations of the genre’s greats. What impressed us most is his versatility-drawing on the classic vibe of our delta heroes, but performed with the style and finesse of modern blues icons.”

A Reminder How to Watch the Challenge:

The Telluride Blues Challenge Finals is held Saturday morning 9am – noon, September 14, at the Telluride Elks Lodge (472 W Pacific Ave). The contest happens as part of “Blues for Breakfast,” complete with a spread and full bar, including breakfast cocktails.

The breakfast includes a traditional spread that features classics like black bean sauté, scrambled eggs, pancakes, hash browns, toast, bacon, and sausages. Coffee, juice and breakfast bar drinks are also available. Breakfast for adults is $15; kids ages 10 & under are $5, Bloody Mary’s, mimosas, and other breakfast bar drinks are extra. Admission is FREE.

The Challenge is a great way to start  off your Saturday morning before the Grand Tasting and music starts in the festival grounds and to see up-and-comers in the blues genre. Watch as competitors perform 20 minute sets, judged on the quality of their overall live performance, instrument use, vocals, and presentation.

More info here.

Sierra Nevada Brewing Company 2019 Beer Styles:

The Telluride Blues & Brews Festival is thrilled to team up again with long time craft beer partner Sierra Nevada Brewing Company for the 2019 Festival.

Founded back in 1980, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. is one of America’s premier craft breweries today and highly regarded for using only the finest quality ingredients. The pioneering spirit that launched Sierra Nevada now spans both US coasts with breweries in Chico, California, and Mills River, North Carolina.

Sierra Nevada has set the standard for craft brewers worldwide with impressive innovations in the brew-house, as well as leading sustainability initiatives.

Sierra Nevada is also an industry leader for artisan brewers worldwide, taking home numerous awards for their wide variety of beers and ales, including the legendary Pale Ale.

Throughout the festival, enjoy a variety of their beers at the Sierra Nevada Beer Truck, VIP bars, House of Brews, Blues Stage bars, special High Altitude Lounge, and during the Grand Tasting. From easy-drinking lagers (including the festival exclusive Back Porch Lager), hoppy IPA’s and wild creations, Sierra Nevada’s styles is sure to satisfy casual beer drinkers, aficionados, and everything in between.

More here.

The Festival Guide to Sampling Beer:

With over 170 styles of beer to sample at the Telluride Blues & Brews Festival Grand Tasting, the choices can be daunting.

From classic lagers and IPA’s, to wild sours and stouts, the complex flavors range far-and-wide. With so many unique tastes, aromas and colors, one might ask “What makes a good beer and how do I evaluate this beverage?” While everyone has a unique palette and opinion, there are a set of loose guidelines to properly evaluate a beer when sampling. Compiled by experts, brewers, and friends, click below to explore the festival guide to sampling beer.

Tasting guide.


Renowned as one of the most scenic and intimate music festivals in the country, Telluride Blues & Brews is located in the world-famous mountain town of Telluride, Colorado. The multi-stage (Main Stage, Blues Stage, Campground Stage) celebration of music and craft brews offers an eclectic mix of live blues, funk, indie, rock, jam-band, gospel, and soul performances. Some of the best craft breweries in the country, along with a wide variety of local and regional food and craft vendors, children’s activities (climbing wall, bounce houses and bungee trampolines, parades), cozy late night club shows (Juke Joints), a 5k fundraiser race, free yoga sessions, and much more round out the 26th annual weekend celebration. Set at the beginning of the beautiful fall foliage season, the event also boasts a number of unique local outdoor activities, including hiking, mountain-biking, and a free gondola between Town of Telluride and Mountain Village.

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