Bluegrass & Beer Festival at Keystone this weekend
The Bluegrass and Beer Festival takes over River Run Village this weekend and promises to be bigger and better than ever, as organizers have gone all out for the 15th anniversary celebration. Eight bands will play the 2011 festival, up two from last year, with the Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band headlining and a third stage at the village entrance to help accommodate the acts. The number of breweries is also up, from 23 to 30 this year, offering a combined total of 60-70 delicious and diverse frothy microbrews to sample. “This is one of our most popular events of the summertime,” said Keystone spokeswoman Justine Spence. “Most people in the Keystone area have a countdown to this event. It’s one of the longest standing beer festivals in the county, and we’re proud of that.” The Hollyfelds kick off the festivities tonight with a free 8:30 p.m. performance at Warren Station. The Denver-based group combines country, rock, pop, folk and bluegrass into what the Westword described as splitting the difference between alt-country and mainstream, with “just enough of the whiskey and heartache that makes great country music.” In 2010 the Hollyfelds placed in the top 10 of the Denver Post’s annual Underground Music Showcase critics’ poll. Nashville singer-songwriter Shannon Whitworth opens Saturday’s events with a free workshop on songwriting at Warren Station; attendance is limited to the first 30 people. At 12:30 p.m. she performs the River Run Events Plaza stage. Some compare Whitworth to Patsy Cline or Billie Holiday, describing her as “smoky, elegant, a bit husky, patient at all the right moments and equally adept at the phrasing of a jazz chanteuse.” Both Steel Pennies and The Farewell Drifters return this year after playing Bluegrass and Beer in 2010. Steel Pennies has a sound that “harkens back to the heyday of bluegrass music,” giving their original and traditional songs “a timeless feel.” They take their name from the zinc-coated steel pennies made in the U.S. between 1943 and 1945 in a wartime effort to save copper for munitions – only to corrode, get stuck in vending machines and be mistaken for dimes. The name reflects the band’s “rusty, lonesome sound.” The Farewell Drifters are a group of 20-something roots-inspired musicians whose recent album, “Echo Boom,” explores themes important to their generation.Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band headlines the event with a free 3 p.m. Saturday concert on the River Run Events Plaza stage followed by a 9 p.m. performance in the more intimate Warren Station Saturday night for $10. The band will play again on the “Montezuma Plaza” stage in front of the parking lot at 3 p.m. Sunday. Led by the Grammy-winning Rowan, who is also a perennial Telluride headliner, the band released their debut album, “Legacy,” in 2010. Rowan himself is a former member of Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys as well as the legendary Old and In the Way with Jerry Garcia. At 11 a.m. Sunday, he will deliver a free 1-hour interactive workshop on the intricacies of vocal harmony; this workshop is also free but limited to the first 30 people.Loose Cannon Bluegrass, The Honeycutters and Honey Don’t round out the bands for this year’s Bluegrass and Beer Festival. “It just makes sense that you should be listening to bluegrass music with a frothy beverage looking at beautiful mountains around you,” Spence said. “It’s refreshing and it’s a great way to get together with your friends and hang out in a laid back atmosphere.” To promote the event, organizers held a Keystone-beer-naming contest for a 2-day brew pass prize. Online voters chose “The Flying Dutchman” by Jamie Goswick and “River Run GondolALE” by Sarah Porter Graham out of nearly 200 submissions. Melissa Pike earned an Honorable Mention for “Ina’s Way IPA,” which recognizes the 87-year-old fixture of Keystone’s past and present, Ina Gillis, a former ski instructor who now heads up River Run’s landscaping in summer and greets skiers at Ina’s Bridge every morning in winter. Bluegrass and Beer draws 3,000-5,000 people each year and raises more than $4,500 to support the High Country Conservation Center and Lake Dillon Theatre Company.To sample the brews until you can’t take anymore, the cost is $40 for one day or $75 for two, and the price includes a charming glass mug commemorating the festival’s 15th year. Nearly all of the music is free, so the other options are to listen to bluegrass sans suds or shop for $5 pints one at a time at the Shock Top Beer Garden. Regular KidZone activities are in place, as are lodging/festival deals and “down-home cooking” from festival vendors. Please note that pets are not invited, even those who appreciate bluegrass (or beer).
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