Telluride Blues & Brews Fest 2013: Photos + Recap
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The Grand Tasting
One of the best parts of Telluride Blues & Brews is the expansive selection of craft brews available on-site, but the menu was even greater during the “Grand Tasting” on Saturday afternoon. The beer tents were spread across the festival grounds. The event was a little bit different from the separate tasting tents and beer villages you often see at other festivals. Here, scampering around to try each brewery’s offerings didn’t detract from the music.
Rebirth Brass Band
Rebirth Brass Band may be most known for blowing out a big brass sound in New Orleans’ tiny clubs, but the jubilant, muddy crowd at Telluride was a distinctly different yet fitting audience. Jazzing up the traditional song “When The Saints Go Marching In” with their own rhythm and paying homage to their home city by peppering the song with “Who Dat?” chants, the audience was beaming despite the looming clouds overhead.
By the time Saturday’s headliner was set to hit the stage, the festival grounds had become a muddy swamp, but that didn’t stop the crowd from anxiously waiting for the My Morning Jacket frontman’s solo set. Known for so many epic sets in the rain, it almost seemed like James was waiting for another downfall to erupt. But James finally took the stage a half-hour late, shuffling across the stage to “State of the Art (A.E.I.O.U)” as the muddy crowd finally got a taste of what they’d been waiting for. He danced his way through recent release Regions of Light and Sounds of God, and his groovy set was the perfect lead-in to a night of Blues and Brews’ now-infamous late-night lineup.
Late Night: Preservation Hall Jazz Band with Karl Denson (and A Surprise Appearance from Jim James)
I was eager for my first time to see old favorite Preservation Hall Jazz Band on-stage, so I braved the rain and cold to take a gondola ride over to the Telluride Conference Center for the late-night set, which promised to host sax player Karl Denson as well. It was a treat for many reasons: the venue wasn’t crowded or sweaty and PHJB’s supremely danceable tunes allowed us all to capitalize on the room to move around. Not long into the set, That’s It! producer and collaborator Jim James came out on stage, singing with the band for a few songs and giving a performance (complete with breaking a microphone stand to bits) that I won’t soon forget. The proximity of the stage to the audience gave us an up-close, more casual view of the day’s headliner, now dressed in a t-shirt rather than his stage-ready suit and tie. (I should say, though: just because you can shove your iPhone six inches from a performer’s face for a photo, doesn’t necessarily mean you should. Just a friendly tip, y’all!) Denson, by the way, was later on greeted with a healthy amount of applause and didn’t disappoint, and as a whole this late-night set was the highlight of my weekend.