Telluride Bluegrass Bliss and How You Can Attend this Great Festival

Me Enjoying All Aspects of the Festival

Me Enjoying All Aspects of the Festival

Our little town of Telluride, Colorado emptied out with all the fury of a Sam Bush mandolin solo on Monday. I’m sure that everyone that attended the Telluride Bluegrass Festival last weekend left with hearts filled and a patchwork of tunes in their head. Post Bluegrass here in T-ride has been sweet and mellow with friends and acquaintances sharing experiences about how delightful Bluegrass was for them this year. Bluegrass marks the official start of summer in Telluride and indeed it feels like locals have blossomed into brighter, more cheerful beings.

Accolades have been flowing like the San Miguel in June for KOTO’s broadcast of the festival. This year the sound quality and interviews were better than ever. Folks streamed the show live from all over the world, enabling them to be connected to our little mountain town and to enjoy some of the best music around. All of the acts except for Ray LaMontagne—-who ended up being a downer for many and was practically booed off the stage—-allowed KOTO to broadcast their sets. Even good ‘ole Stevie Winwood, whom I was lucky to see Friday night, made his superlative quality show available to all. Thank you to KOTO and Planet Bluegrass for making this happen.

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Summer Sipping 2014

Chloe Wines

Chloe Wines

Summer is the season for wine festivals throughout much of the United States, especially in Colorado. June is particularly big in our Rocky Mountain state since the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen is taking place this weekend and the Telluride Wine Festival—under new direction—is happening next weekend. They’re both long-established events, terrific for sampling and savoring food and libations among the pros. Typically one walks away from these festivals with a go-to list of wines, spirits and restaurants to experience in the upcoming months. They also offer wonderful opportunities for socializing among fellow foodies and wine lovers in beautiful mountain settings.

For me, however, summer sipping feels best outdoors while gazing at a gorgeous mountain vista or inside relishing a delicious dinner of grilled meats and vegetables after having done a big hike. I’ve also been known to pack a good bottle and snacks and share a near-sacred moment with someone special out in a remote place. These treasured times create memories that last the longest for me.

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Telluride Bluegrass for All on KOTO

A Quintessential River View of Telluride Last Week Before the Crowds Arrived

A Quintessential River View of Telluride Last Week Before the Crowds Arrived

Oh yeah, it’s that delightfully delicious time of year again. It’s warm and sunny, lush and green and the rivers are running as fast and deep as a Peter Rowan refrain on a summer solstice night. For many, this is the best time of year in Telluride, Colorado and by tomorrow the population of town will swell to its annual peak as festivarians disembark for the 41st annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival.

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Talking Wild with Cheryl Strayed

Cheryl Looking Down at Crater Lake During Her Trek on the PCT

Cheryl Looking Down at Crater Lake During Her Trek on the PCT

I consider a movie to be good when I find myself thinking about it the next day. My barometer is the same for a book although with most good reads I find myself thinking about them while I’m reading them as well as in the days or weeks after I finish them. That’s been the case with Wild:  From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, by Cheryl Strayed, a superbly crafted memoir that dazzles your senses every step of the way. Her story moved me so much that I plan to read it again, something I never do. Although why wouldn’t I? From beginning to end, I was gripped by this powerful tale of transformation, this raw account of one woman’s life-changing journey both literally and figuratively. Plus, as I learned in Wild, Cheryl often reads books more than once, so I’m eager to crack hers second time around.

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Telluride, Monument Valley and the Oscars

In Living Color:  Monument Valley

In Living Color: Monument Valley

How about those Oscars? Wasn’t it a great show? I was thrilled that I had seen most of the films nominated for an award here in our little mountain town of Telluride, Colorado way back in September. Yes, just as in recent years, many of the movies that gained high acclaim from the Academy of Motion Pictures were shown here in T-ride—either as premiers or sneak peeks—during the Telluride Film Festival (TFF) long before they were officially released. Telluride’s selection of films seems to be filled with Oscar contenders more so than the lineups presented at other renowned film festivals in New York, Venice and Toronto.

Much of the Oscar buzz takes place before and after this annual awards show. I was thrilled to tune into CBS Sunday Morning, one of my all-time favorite TV shows, to see Monument Valley:  Mother Nature’s scene stealing movie star, last Sunday. It was a wonderful segment that featured the extraordinary sense of place of this iconic site and the many Oscar-worthy movies filmed there including “The Searchers,” “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon,” “Back to the Future,” “Forrest Gump” and many more. This majestic landscape has appeared in dozens of films as well as countless commercials. Almost a half a million visitors go to Monument Valley every year, largely because of the prominence it has enjoyed in the movies. Thanks to Harry Gouding and his wife, Leone (known as Mike), film director John Ford discovered Monument Valley and its perfect setting for great western movies and feature films. This was highlighted in the CBS piece although Goulding’s Lodge and its terrific Trading Post Museum, which also showcases the history of movie-making in the area, were scarcely mentioned.

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Post Telluride Film Festival Reflections

TFF Banner Over Main Street

TFF Banner Over Main Street

Brad Pitt, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong'o from 12 Years a Slave in Telluride

Brad Pitt, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong’o from 12 Years a Slave in Telluride

When was the last time you saw a double feature at the movies? Well, I went to one three nights in a row this past week and I’m still processing my emotions from what I took in. I watched films that inspired and moved me, entertained and informed, some of which have been billed as big contenders for this year’s Oscars. (See Can Telluride Continue to Steal Venice and Toronto’s Thunder? and In Toronto, the Oscar Smackdown Gets an Early Start) No, I don’t live in New York or L.A. This wonderful opportunity for film viewing was provided yet again here in Telluride, Colorado as part of the after-the-festival doings of the Telluride Film Festival. These three evenings of post festival movie watching have always been one of my favorite parts of this great festival and as time goes on and the festival rises in importance, I realize just how lucky I am to take in these films, some of which were shown as sneak peeks at this year’s 40th anniversary festival, scooping other world renowned festivals such as those of Venice, Toronto and New York. (Read Film Reviews from the Telluride Film Festival:  Alexander Payne and Many More Pleasures and for more of the lowdown.)

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Telluride Film Festival Celebrates Forty Years

Hot Off the Press:  Bruce Dern and Robert Redford

Hot Off the Press: Bruce Dern and Robert Redford at this Year’s Telluride Film Festival

I’m powering through this post, since I have to head out soon to work at a Telluride Film Festival event for VIPs. No one is especially starstruck in Telluride, including me. But still, Robert Redford is in town (a big first) with other notables such as Francis Ford Coppola, Ralph Fiennes, Joyce Maynard and who knows who else will be a part of this year’s fortieth annual Telluride Film Festival. “Gravity,” a film starring George Clooney and Sandra Bullock, is set to premiere at The Werner Herzog, film fest’s new theater, so those two biggies just might show up as well. No, I’m not starstruck but it is fun to get up close and personal with these film-world forces, particularly when you see them relaxed and happy in our beautiful mountain town of Telluride, Colorado.

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More Mountainfilm 2013 Highlights: High & Hallowed and Running Blind

High & Hallowed:  Everest 1963

High & Hallowed: Everest 1963

Mountaineering and remarkable physical achievements have been a big part of  Mountainfilm, a world renowned festival in Telluride, Colorado, since its origin in 1979. In addition to watching films that raise social awareness, I love taking in adventure films that thrill and inspire me on many levels. This year was no different and the two that stood out for me the most were “High & Hallowed:  Everest 1963” and “Running Blind,” both of which made their world premiere at the festival.

High & Hallowed,” a visually stunning film, juxtaposes the first American summiting of Mt. Everest in 1963 with a recent attempt. Filmmakers David Morton and Jake Norton skillfully tell the story of Everest past and present by marrying old footage with new. It’s also the tale of the West Ridge route, an Everest ascent that has only been achieved once back in 1963 by Tom Hornbein and Willi Unsoeld, two members of the original American team. Jim Whittaker was the first to plant the American flag on Everest on the already then-established South Col route, yet even more remarkably, Hornbein and Unsoeld followed up on the same expedition with the West Ridge ascent. Some consider this to have been an even more astounding feat than putting a man on the moon; all acknowledge this as having been one of the most daring climbs in history. And it hasn’t been successfully repeated since.

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