Bluegrass is always greener in June

The Palisade Roots Music Festival.

Bela Fleck. left and Sam Bush play a recent Telluride Bluegrass Festival.


Pick your music, there’s a concert for you

If you like country, Major Mortgage Country Jam USA is June 24–27 in Mack. Headliners include Trace Adkins, Alan Jackson and Keith Urban (

If you like Christian music, there’s NightVision on July 9–10 in Olathe. The lineup includes Michael W. Smith and Third Day (

Rock fans have Intermountain Auto Sales Rock Jam, Aug. 27–28 ( Jazz fans have Jazz Among the Grapevines (The first concert is June 15. Look under “special events & activities” at

And the Colorado Riverfront Concert Series will mix styles and genres all summer long (

Get the details on many more of the area’s music festivals and concert series in The Daily Sentinel’s Music Festival Guide in newspapers June 11.

Music, scenery and ambiance abound in western Colorado. And don’t think that fusion is an accident.

They grow some mean bluegrass in June.

For example, Riverbend Park, which plays host to the second annual Palisade Bluegrass and Roots Music Festival from June 11–13, has the Colorado River running past the stage and ample shade trees to shade festival-goers as they relax and listen to music.

Local wines and brews will be for sale. Musical workshops offered throughout the festival in the Family Tent will give people the opportunity to learn more about the musicians and instruments. There will be an area for children’s activities.

The stage will host noted national groups Hot Buttered Rum and Asleep at the Wheel and area bands such as Stray Grass and Sweet Sunny South.

“It is the type of music that lends itself to a more laid-back atmosphere,” said Nathan Boddy, one of festival’s organizers.

Based on feedback from last year’s inaugural festival in Palisade, the campground area was expanded to 60 acres and fires will be allowed at the campsites.

Musicians also will play sets for 90 minutes instead of 45, allowing everyone more time to enjoy the acoustic experience.

“It’s as much the musicians preference as well,” Boddy said. “They tend to want to work the crowd more.”

Single-day tickets range in price from $25 for June 11, to $45 for June 12. Ticket prices jump $10 after June 10. Multi-day tickets and tickets with camping privileges also are available. Go to for more information.

With music and camping along the Colorado River, event organizers are optimistic the event — formerly the North Fork Bluegrass & Roots Festival in Hotchkiss before moving to the Grand Valley in 2009 — will continue to grow in popularity much like other Palisade festivals, such as the Peach Festival.

“We wanted to fill in other times of the year, to have something that has an entirely different focus than fruit and wine,” Boddy said.

For many a live music fan or festival organizer, the proof that western Colorado outdoor venues are appealing for both attendees and artists perhaps is best seen during one weekend in Telluride.

Even Rolling Stone Magazine once labeled the Telluride Bluegrass Festival as “the most spectacular natural setting of any American festival.”

With the peaks of the San Juan Mountains as a backdrop, this year’s Telluride Bluegrass Festival is June 17–20. The event started 37 years ago as a relatively small place for bluegrass fans to gather.

Then, James Taylor played at the festival in 1990 and drew 16,000 fans.

“That changed everything,” said Brian Eyster of Planet Bluegrass, which produces the Telluride Bluegrass Festival.

Now, Telluride Bluegrass typically draws an about 10,000 people and plenty of big name acts.

Among the more than a dozen bands and musicians scheduled to appear this year are Alison Krauss & Union Station, Lyle Lovett, Court Yard Hounds (which includes members of the Dixie Chicks), Yonder Mountain String Band, Leftover Salmon and Bela Fleck.

Many musicians use Telluride Bluegrass as a chance to play with other artists or in a way they typically wouldn’t anywhere else in the world, Eyster said.

Because musicians are encouraged to push the limits at the festival, it has developed fans so loyal and knowledgeable about the music that they have been given a name: Festivarians.

Along with the concerts, there are music workshops on the Elks Park stage in the middle of the town and band and songwriting contests.

Jam sessions can be heard in area campgrounds or condos.

A four-day pass to Telluride Bluegrass is $185. Single-day passes cost $60.

Eyster expected tickets to be available at the gate but doubted campground space would still be available come June 17.

For more information on tickets, camping and the music at Telluride Bluegrass, go to


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