13 Aug 2014, 1:55pm
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Steve Gumble Brings Us Telluride Blues & Brews and More

Steve Gumble

Steve Gumble

There was a story in The New York Times a few days ago about the proliferation of music festivals all over the world within this past decade. In North America, you can count almost 850 for this year alone. People are crazy about music festivals and the all-encompassing experiences they offer, and promoters and musicians have found them to be profitable enterprises.

Telluride Blues & Brews Festival

Telluride Blues & Brews Festival

But no one puts on a festival like Telluride, Colorado. Sure, I’m biased because I live here. But ask anyone and they’ll likely tell you the same. Plus, most of our great Telluride festivals—from music to film—have been around for decades. So I was thrilled to do a Travel Fun interview with Steve Gumble, founder of Telluride Blues & Brews, one of our beloved festivals, to hear his story, how he got this now twenty-one-year-old festival going and to listen to him reminisce about some of the most memorable moments from his shows.

Click the play button below to listen to Steve chat about this world-renowned festival as well as the Durango Blues Train and Snowmass Mammoth Fest, two other terrific musical happenings he recently took on.

Telluride Town Park

Telluride Town Park

Buddy Guy:  A Telluride Blues & Brews Favorite

Buddy Guy: A Telluride Blues & Brews Favorite

“It started out in 1994 as a beer fest,” says Steve. “Back then I was a ski bum,” he admits. In 1997, he added music—the blues, a logical choice since he grew up listening to that genre. “And as a (former) liquor store owner, I loved beer,” he adds. Now the Telluride Blues & Brews Festival entertains about 9,000 people a day for three days, the third weekend in September every year. “Probably one of the most stunning venues in the world,” Steve says referring to Telluride Town Park, where the main stage is located. People are also bedazzled by the town of T-ride and the outlying area, which basks in a late summer glow during this golden time of the year.

Celebrating the Brews at the Grand Tasting

Celebrating the Brews at the Grand Tasting

This spectacular setting serves as the perfect backdrop for the Festival’s Grand Tasting, one of the highlights of the weekend’s activities, which showcases over fifty microbreweries on Saturday. Steve talks about this and some of the festival’s most magical moments, including James Brown’s heartwarming performance the weekend after 9/11 in the interview below. Listen to what Steve says about other beloved artists such as Joe Cocker and Willie Nelson and hear about how he attempted to woo Eric Clapton to T-ride.

Babes and Brews

Babes and Brews

Cheers!

Cheers!

Telluride does festivals so well that many of our festival organizers have been putting on these great events—in one form or another—outside of our beautiful boxed canyon. Steve has taken part of his blues festival on the road—or rather the tracks—by teaming up with the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, one of America’s most historic trains, and creating the Durango Blues Train. “That’s our newest baby,” says Steve. This three-and-a-half-hour musical journey occurs twice a year, in May and August. Aspen is also the proud recipient of the Telluride touch now that Steve and his staff have breathed new life into the Snowmass Mammoth Fest, formerly known as the Snowmass Chili Pepper Fest, which happens in June. It’s still all about music and chili although I’d guess it now has more spice, or at least soul. In my interview with Steve, I mention that I was a chili judge at this festival; check out my story here.

All Aboard the Durango Blues Train

All Aboard the Durango Blues Train

On the Train

On the Train

Snowmass Mammoth Festival

Snowmass Mammoth Festival

Sultry Snowmass

Sizzling Snowmass

You can listen to excellent music at home with your favorite beverage but there’s nothing like being a part of a great musical event. “Blues & Brews is really an experience,” Steve says. Once you come, plan on coming every year.” No wonder Telluride Blues & Brews continues to grow. From music on the main stage to spectacular scenery to the town and campground scenes to the late night juke joints to tasty brews and food to fabulous people watching, parades, color and more—yes, there’s nothing like a festival, especially in Colorado.

The Juke Joint Scene at Blues & Brews

The Juke Joint Scene at Blues & Brews

Goodnight Telluride

Goodnight Telluride

Here you can enjoy the best version of a Rocky Mountain high, one that will surely mark the highpoint of your summer.

Click on the play button below to hear Steve Gumble talk about it.

Act fast to snag a ticket for the Durango Blues Train on August 22; single day tickets to the Telluride Blues & Brews Festival are also available.

Check out Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad:  An American Treasure for more on this must-see excursion through the Rockies.

For more on Telluride Blues & Brews Festival, read Film, Blues & Brews, Telluride Makes Saying Goodbye to Summer Easy, Telluride Blues & Brews Promises More Fun than Ever this Year and Always on My Mind:  Telluride Blues & Brews and Willie Nelson.

Thank you to Telluride Blues & Brews Festival, Snowmass Tourism and Jeremy Swanson for the images in this story.

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