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The Ride Festival // Live @ Telluride Town Park // 7.8-9.17

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Article and Photos by: Linda Carlson


Telluride, CO – What makes Telluride such an appealing destination outside the winter ski season?  Is it its mining roots and heritage?  Or is it the quaint streets lined with charming restaurants and shops? Perhaps it’s the breathtaking box canyon views and the exceptional weather.

Or maybe… it’s the music.  Ah, the music!  Throughout the summer season, there are a number of renowned music festivals that draw revelers from Denver (more than a six-hour drive away) and beyond.  The well-established Telluride Bluegrass Festival, founded in 1973, is held each June, and the Telluride Blues & Blues Festival, now in its 24th year, attracts sell-out crowds every September.

Fairly new to the Telluride music festival scene is The Ride Festival.  Started in 2012 as a complement to a bike race event, The Ride Festival has continued to grow and develop a loyal and eager following.  Ride Festival organizer Todd Creel, along with a dedicated staff, brings music, energy and visitors to Telluride each July to experience a unique blend of carefully curated music that spans genres.

This year’s festival was held July 8-9, with headliners Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals on Saturday, and Beck on Sunday.  The line-up was filled with the bluesy, eclectic, funky and energetic music that brings thousands of revelers to the venue to relax in lounge chairs and on blankets, surrounded by breathtaking mountain views.  Musicians rounding out the main stage included Muddy Magnolias, Maggie Koerner, Colter Wall, Jackie Greene, Rose Hill Drive, Big Something, Rival Sons, Kaleo, The Marcus King Band, The Temperance Movement and The Jack Butler Trio.

What is special to The Ride Festival as an overall event is that the festival music spills to local establishments in the festival’s after-hours.  The historic Sheridan Opera House and local bars host many of the bands on Friday night as well as after the festival ends each night.  Dubbed the NightRide, these extra events bring the music from the main stage into the local scene, from the large stage to cozy quarters.

On the Thursday before the event weekend, Beck performed a special intimate show at the Telluride High School Palm Theater.  Free to ticketed festival-goers yet two days before the festival began on Saturday, this concert was heavily attended by locals, who enjoyed the show as if it was performed in their own living rooms with their closest friends.  The Palm Theater performance marked Beck’s first live show in more than a year, and served as a kick-off to his summer tour.

Festival-goers were unfazed by 20-minute light rain showers each day, typical for summer days in the San Juan Mountains.  Smiles and dancing seemed to dominate the mood, and there was plenty of food, drink and craft tents to allow folks to wander the grounds during and between sets.  From the stage, each band had an incredible view of the awe-inspiring mountain range – not a bad place to hang out for a few songs!

Although it’s a bit of travel to reach the hidden treasure of Telluride for this festival, it’s certainly worth the trip!  Keep an eye out early next year at for line-up announcements for 2018.  Last year, Pearl Jam, this year, Beck…what will 2018 hold?


Linda Carlson
Linda has been photographing people since she was ten. Forever intrigued by the complex beauty of the human form, she brings the eye of a portraitist to the unpredictability and spectacle of the concert scene.

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