Friday, June 22, 2007

Telluride Bluegrass Festival - Friday Morning

There's a particular vibe to Friday mornings at the Fest. It's only the second day, nobody's too tired from the festival and nightgrass shows, and there's still plenty of beer in the campgrounds. The land rush is a high speed event with lots of calories expended by light-footed sprinters exhaling a whole lot of carbon dioxide (if the runner is vegetarian is that carbon-neutral?). Here's little poorly-shot video. Soundtrack courtesy of the TBF crew.


Once the tarps are thrown and the lawn furniture arranged it's time for tunage. Today's schedule opened with the winners of last year's band contest, Greensky Bluegrass. Fronted by Dave Bruzza, this classic quartet has excellent technical chops and a good sense of material. There's no standout musician in the group, but they play tight, fast traditional and original tunes with confidence.

Michael Devol, bass, and Dave Bruzza, guitar, Greensky Bluegrass.

The Infamous Stringdusters took command of the morning stage with a potent set of mostly original pieces from their recent CD "Fork in the Road". Including survivors of the fine Broke Mountain Bluegrass Band, the Stringdusters have a smooth stage presence organized around a quasi-single mic setup that keeps bassist/vocalist in motion as the harmonies shift among the front players. I've been paying particular attention to these boys for a while now: they get my vote for Most Improved (so far)

Jeremy Garret, Travis Book and Chris Hall of the Infamous Stringdusters.

You can always count on Mike Marshall to take the mandolin places Bill Monroe wouldn't think much of. In this case, travel plans included Brazil and its intricate choro music. Marshall brought along a friend this time, Hamilton de Holanda, for a fascinating set. Choro isn't exactly what the crazed hippie dancer might expect, but it's exactly what the take-all-comers attitude at TBF demands.

Hamilton de Holanda and Mike Marshall

Jerry Douglas is an undisputed string master. With others he effortlessly switches between graceful support and challenging lead, but with his own band he just indulges himself in a completely entertaining way. His band, with the same members as last year, easily changes from Weather Report to Johnny Cash while still mastering Earl Scruggs without breaking a sweat. Wih fiddler Luke Bulla on vocals and Guthrie Trapp adding his distinctive guitar and mando, The Jerry Douglas Band is more than an indulgence. If Douglas ever decides to leave Alison Krauss's Union Station, he's got a terrific fall back position.

Jerry Douglas and Guthrie Trapp

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