The Telluride Brewers Festival opened for business 17 years ago in 1994 as the beer drinker's answer to the Telluride Wine Festival, which catered back then to the Prada (versus Chaco) brigade. Gumble had met many of the vendors who would return year after year back in the days he owned a liquor store. Year 1, the impresario expected 500 diehards and 1200 showed up. Profits were spread among several non-profits. A home run for sure. But not enough for Gumble.
Year 1 of Blues & Brews, Funky Meters headlined. It was snowy and there was six inches of mud in Town Park. But the crowd of 1,000 fans had a blast.
In only one year, Gumble doubled the number of bands on the Main Stage from six to 12. That year, 1998, the Fabulous Thunderbirds and Buckwheat Zydeco headlined.
In 1999, the big draw was Hot Tuna.
In 2000, Gumble was thrown his first curve ball: Gov't Mule cancelled due to a death in the band. But Original 'P' saved the day with one of the craziest shows ever, including dancers tricked out in funk gear.
In 2001, the show went on, despite 9/11 – or because of the tragedy. Gumble put out a message on his website about how blues was born out of a need to heal pain and suffering.
For Gumble, blues is a protean thing. He claims everyone he books for his festival has at least a backbone in blues, which may not be apparent from the outside looking in at the line-up. The only thing you likely won't find at Telluride Blues & Blues is rappers. But with Gumble, don't take that to the bank.
For a Festival schedule, information about the Telluride Acoustic Blues Competition and more, visit www.tellurideblues.com. And stay tuned to Telluride Inside… and Out for interviews and videos of upcoming acts. And prior to the official launch of Telluride Blues & Brews, attend the First Annual Sunset Concert featuring the Gold Kings & Matt Schofield. That event takes places at Sunset Plaza in the Mountain Village, 5 – 7 p.m. and is FREE.
(2009 B & B photos of Joe Cocker and Buddy Guy by Clint Viebrock)