In a set that seemed custom-made for the festival environment, the King of Telluride, Sam Bush, played his 36th Telluride Bluegrass Festival during the Satruday-evening time slot.
He joked that he was lucky to be only 38-years-old and playing his 36th festival and that he had known “about this gig for weeks.”
He told some stories about ‘Stringbean’ Akeman, his first time at Telluride and the formation of New Grass Revival and being told by Bill Monroe to stick with the fiddle instead of the mandolin. He declared he was left “verklempt” twice by his guests.
With Jerry Douglas onstage he played “Fool the Jerry” saying that “some of these he’s heard, some – who knows? But I think he knows what to do.” The ended up playing Jeff Black’s Gold Heart Locket and a song that Sam had written about Telluride with Jeff (possibly) called Circles Around You.
He brought Peter Rowan out for a Bill Monroe instrumental and Sweet Heart of Mine.
Emmylou Harris joined the group for River’s Gonna Run and Walls of Time, which they had played together when Sam was part of the Nash Ramblers.
He announced that they were a “National League band” and that even the drummers have to sing.
(Both Sam and Emmylou are slightly more than fanatical about their baseball – and in case you didn’t know National League baseball has no designated hitter as opposed to American League. They also both agree on the fact that, as Emmylou has said, “the designated hitter is not the way God meant baseball to be played.”)
As another baseball-related side-note, Sam was wearing a Nashville Predators hockey jersey (Vernon Fiddler #38) instead of his usual baseball jersey.
He asked if we could all stay a few more minutes and brought out “The Cow,” John Cowan. They played Gimme Shelter and The Ballad of Spider John, once Sam realized he had quite a bit more time left.
At the end of the night he said that he had “left time for jamming” and brought out Chris Thile (in a suit – Sam kidded “Chris, you’ve still got time to dress for the show” and that he had been telling him to “plug in since 1939” when he handed Chris his electric mandolin), Peter Rowan and Luke Bulla for a rendition of One Love and Rolling in My Sweet Baby’s Arms.