What did you think?

Of the following performers:

Edgar and Mike


Joy Kills Sorrow

I have my own thoughts here but am wondering what individual and consensus opinion are regarding these artists. Were they great? not so great? Good but not a good fit for TBF?, better in another time slot?

Lets hear your unvarnished, brutal assessment.


Edgar and Mike - would’ve been much better at Elks Park. I fell asleep. With these types of performances, I need to be able to see their fingers.

Seryn - enjoyable, both at Elks and main stage

Joy Kills Sorrow - awesome, both at Elks and main stage.

I’m going to give you more than you asked for, because this has been on my mind a lot. I’ve downloaded and re-listened to what I can find so far, and consulted some notes I took for myself, and have my set of opinions ready for public ridicule.

First off, TBF sets a very high standard. I mean, every festival is (musically) something special. Over the course of 20 or so of them, one has to be my favorite, and one has to be my least favorite. I’m not saying this is least favorite, but it’s in the bottom 5. Here’s my quickie opinions on what we saw, with a quick grade slapped on each one.

One final note: I’m not complaining. I always know that I may not like all the acts, and I also know the ones I don’t enjoy will always be someone else’s favorite. So if you loved an act I couldn’t stand, good for you! I’m jealous! Now…on to the grading:

Thursday, June 21, 2012
11:00 - noon — Thelma & Louise featuring Chris Thile & Béla Fleck
Syncopation Overload right off the bat. might have enjoyed this more in another timeslot. I guess I like the first act to sing a few tracks I love. But I always Love Bela, so… Grade: B

12:15 - 1:30pm — Della Mae
Awesome set. The girls had a blast, made some gorgeous music, and made my feet move. Grade: A

2:00 - 3:15pm — Dan Mangan
One of the best sets, and one I was looking forward too. I though he nailed it, but the crowd didn’t seem to dig it as much as I did. A little too much electric cacophony for some folks. Grade B+

3:30 - 4:45pm — Greensky Bluegrass
Great set, lots of fun: Grade: A-

5:15 - 6:30pm — Laura Marling
Oh, how I was looking forward to this one with serious trepidation. I love Laura, but really dfelt she would be a better Folk’s Fest act. Sure enough, she did a Folk’s Fest set and tickled my sleep bone. I walked off a little underwhelmed: Grade: B-

7:00 - 8:30pm — John Prine
Love John Prine. Great set, some moving moments, but I think I was in singer/songwriter overload at this point, and never really got my groove on for his set. Grade: B

9:00 - 11:00pm — Alison Krauss & Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas
I moaned and groaned and complained about how much I missed her last year. Now I sort of wonder why. Predictable setlist, I was surprised to find myself talking to friends more than listening. Bit it’s Alison, and it’s Jerry, annd so… Grade: B+

Friday, June 22, 2012

10:00 - 11:00am — Edgar Meyer & Mike Marshall
Meh. I know, I should have loved it, but it bored me this time. I guess I don’t dig the early jazzy stuff. Grade: C

11:15 - 12:30pm — Seryn
Okay, here we go. Didn’t do anything for me. I really liked Head and the Heart last year, but Seryn sounded like HaTH “Lite”. I appreciate their sound, but it got boring after a couple of songs. I’m no fan of Fleet Foxes either, so I guess this whole new-ish genre which I can only describe as “sort of like 70’s pop, but a lot more ambient, and done with cooler instruments”, doesn’t appeal to me. Grade: D

1:00 - 2:15pm — Head for the Hills
These guys nailed it. Smoking set, and got us out of our Seryn-induced Coma. Grade: A-

2:45 - 4:00pm — O’Brien Party of Seven
A fun set. I got some good pix up front before joining the family in the family area, so my grade is based on half the set, and is a solid: Grade B

4:30 - 5:45pm — Béla Fleck & The Marcus Roberts Trio
The set I wanted to see more than any other set, and ended up missing it. Heard it some walking out of the family zone, and back to camp. From what I head, it gets a Grade: A+

6:15 - 7:30pm — Del McCoury Band
Missed it…we were at camp having dinner and getting ready for my 8-12 shift. Sounded nice from camp, so they get a solid: Grade: B+

8:00 - 10:00pm — John Fogerty
Once we’d recovered from the shock of the volume level, and passed out earplugs to as many people as I could (thanks to the Planet and the EMTs for having such huge supplies handy), it was a fun set, and I had fun with it. Grade: A

10:30 - Midnight — Leftover Salmon
What a great Salmon set. The “Whispering Waters” was just perfect, and seeing Sam get his San Juan birthday was priceless. I don’t know if I can agree with the talk of “Best Salmon set in Telluride EVER”, but I can give it the first of these fo rthe weekend: Grade: A+

Saturday, June 23, 2012
11:30 - 12:30pm — Run Boy Run
12:45 - 2:00pm — The Devil Makes Three
I’m lumping these two together, because my reaction to both of them was the same…“Whatever”. I guess I’m not into the Rootsy Traditional stuff as much this year, and these two acts didn’t float my boat. Good day for some camp time. Grade: C

2:30 - 3:45pm — Jerry Douglas featuring Omar Hakim, Viktor Krauss & Luke Bulla
These guys can do no wrong. If I could, I’d go higher: Grade: A++

4:15 - 5:45pm — Yonder Mountain String Band
Well done, gentlemen. I’d been a skeptic, and hadn’t REALLY enjoyed a Yonder set in Telluride for a few years. I enjoyed this one… a lot! Grade: A

6:15 - 7:30pm — k.d. lang & the Siss Boom Bang
okay, i’m going to make some enemies here. I won’t speak to the rest of the set, but after the first 20 minutes we were bored to tears, and escaped to camp. Among our crew, phrases used were “Universally Boring”, “Appallingly bad” and “A total throwaway” Grade: F+

8:00 - 10:00pm — Sam Bush Band
Nice, solid set. Sam always got "A"s from me, but this was a littl emore sedate than some years…fun, enjoyable, and a Grade: A-

10:30 - Midnight — Bruce Hornsby & the Noisemakers
The ultimate disappointment of the weekend for me. I really thought I was going to thoroughly enjoy this, so I convinced the crew to stay in the fest. 10 minutes into it, they all wanted to go home, and I couldn’t argue. I could tell from camp it improved when he got enough talent on stage with him, but Bruce and the band got a Grade: D+

Sunday, June 24, 2012

10:45 - 11:45 — John Cowan Band Gospel Hour

Better than last yea’rs Gospel Set, and nice to have the Cow on the Planet again. Grade: B

Noon - 1:00pm — Joy Kills Sorrow
A fun set…enjoyed it, but it missed a high gear I though they’d hit. Grade: B+

1:30 - 2:45pm — Peter Rowan’s Big Twang Theory
I was in camp starting to break camp and pack. But it sounded like a Grade: B

3:15 - 4:30pm — Brett Dennen
Again, most of this was from camp, until I went to work at 4:00. It was a fun little set, and everyon eI know enjoyed it. but not a TON. Grade: B

5:00 - 6:15pm — Punch Brothers
50% awesome, 50% annoying. Grade: B-

7:00 - 8:15pm — Glen Hansard
Much better last time. First couple songs the sound was awful, distorted guitar… As much as I loved him last time, I foun dhim overbearing. Grade: C+

8:45 - 10:45pm — Telluride House Band featuring Sam, Béla, Jerry, Edgar, Bryan & Stuart
It’s the House band. in the closing spot. Need I say more? Grade: A

Let me be the first not to publicly ridicule you, Huck. I would agree with you within a (-) or a (+) here or there on most all the acts this year. Of my ten TBFs, the 39th would be at the bottom of my rankings. Maybe I have overly high expectations after driving the 1300 miles in my overloaded Pilot, and whatnot, but I had no “magical moments” that I’ve certainly had before. Still loved every minute though! :lovedr (and wouldn’t hesitate doing again, even knowing all this going in) Wishing now I had ventured into Elks Park at least once after hearing all the praises (and recordings).
I will disagree with one tho. Me & my crew were quite entertained by KD Lang. That exactly what she is, I guess, an entertainer. I would go as high as B+ for that set. :cheers

And one camp-mate declared we couldn’t be friends (but later forgave me), since in his opinion it was the greatest act to ever grace the Fred Shellman stage.

Goes to show, you don’t ever know…That’s why it’s so important when being critical of acts to be careful…'cause someone loved it!!

I have to agree with you. I’ve only been to 5 TBFs, and, musically, this was my least favorite. I say least favorite because I still loved every minute of being there and wouldn’t have wanted to miss it for anything, but the lineup didn’t excite me as much as it usually does.

I was looking forward to Edgar and Mike, but they simply didn’t live up to my expectations. I missed Joy Kills Sorrow, so I can’t comment on that set. I wasn’t excited for Seryn at all. I know a lot of people love that type of music, but it just doesn’t connect with me. Brett Denned was the biggest disappointment to me this year however. I really liked his 2008 set and was looking forward to him, but he’s gotten so incredibly poppy. The only songs I liked were the ones he played in 2008 as well. The rest did nothing for me.

Nice grades and stuff, with some room for debate (disagree on Hornsby).

For me, there was one true A+ set, and that was the Doc Watson Tribute workshop at Elks Park.

Other A’s:

Elephant Revival @ The Sheridan Opera House
Leftover Salmon @ Palm Theatre
John Prine
John Fogerty
Telluride House Band
Bela Fleck & Marcus Roberts Trio (only caught the last 25 minutes, but have listened to the recording since)

And yes – much less “pop” stuff for the 40th.

Acts I have no desire to see again based on my above statement:
Brett Dennen
Glen Hansard

I also have a new nickname for this “acoustic pop” genre: The Overwroughts.

Great responses! Thanks for putting some real thought into it.

Even though Ed and Mike are two of my favorite musicians in any category, I was hesitant about this as their preferred music is much quieter than the average bear. If they had their druthers, I think they would have played indoors, perhaps in a small chapel somewhere.

Seryn, I’ve never seen 'em live but their recordings knocked me out flat (thats good). But the production doesn’t always match the live sound. Still love the band.

JKS is one of the best groups to come around in a long time but I think they are more of a quiet introspective thang. Emma has a great stage presence but it’s very reserved and sort of distant. Not a “put your hands up!” band by any means.

Having said that, my hats off to Brian and PB for going out on a limb with these types of bookings. The Drepung monks were a stretch and they were spot on in 2010. Taking chances is what makes this festival the top notch event that it is.

How boring it would be if we all agreed! :lol

After I bailed on Hornsby, I saw a few happy campers heading back in. They had bailed, but thought they’d give it a second chance. Their conclusion was the first half of the set was lame, but the second half smoked.

The problem is by that time of night, a lot of us don’t have the energy to give a band a “second chance”

I loved Hornsby, enjoyed Seryn, Hansard, JKS… But then again, I’m still relatively new to the bluegrass thing, and really prefer diversity over tradition. I actually thought there was a very nice balance between traditional bluegrass and more boundary-pushing inclusions.

One of the things I like most about this festival is that you can expect bands that don’t fit the mold. I like that you see artists like Bruce Hornsby, Glen Hansard, John Fogerty, The Decemberists, Mumford & Sons, Josh Ritter, Dan Mangan, etc. Honestly, it would be pretty boring without them.

This was only my 3rd year, but it was actually my favorite, despite last year’s killer lineup.

Just wanted to chime in and say how much I’m enjoying this thread. :thumbsup

Keep the civil and thoughtful music opinions coming…


Agreed. I wasn’t there, but it’s so refreshing to hear honest, thoughtful opinions without judgment. Further proof that this is the greatest musical community out there!

I’ll offer a couple of thoughts (from the “home” perspective):

From home, Thelma and Louise SMOKED it. I can see how it might not have been the enthralling singalong “first set” that usually comes from someone like Tim O’Brien or Chris Thile, but I’ve been bored with this type of collaboration before and was not disappointed (via KOTO).

Edgar and Mike were as I expected them to be; I’ve heard their collaborative music before and it’s an incredible wealth of talent that is somehow unmoving. However, their early spot was warranted, I think. I’m not saying PBG is attempting to cast “entrance music” necessarily, but I know I’ve really enjoyed coming in and getting setup, shopping around a bit, etc. to the likes of this type of collaboration.

I haven’t heard a lot of the sets yet, but I’ll speak to Glen Hansard: as a HUGE fan of The Frames (his former band), I find the trend in his releases to be unfortunate. The Swell Season was fine, but he’s a very dramatic musical presence and I think he’s best served with a solid band behind him that can cushion his drama.

I was really disappointed that Prine and Fogerty opted out of the broadcast. I could say negative things about that, but won’t. I’m just glad I have the Fogerty tape to listen to, and am anxious to hear the Prine (as he’s one of my favorites).

Looking forward to some tradition and surprises for next year; I’ve gotta get my crew ready to be sure we get tickets!

Glad you’re enjoying it, Brian. I was thinking of some of our pre-fest discussions when I wrote up my opinions, and was really dismayed to realize how many of the acts I was jazzed for (and you were as well) left me feeling a little empty. Oh well, can’t win 'em all all the time!

I just want to say that I also love this thread and have a lot of respect for the opinions of you all. Knowing how many combined years of TBF experience we have (I’ve been to 12 or 13 - can’t remember) makes these comments even more meaningful.

Rather than comment specifically on each band, I just want to say that I think it’s got to be really hard for the folks at the Planet to 1) know how an artist’s act/music will play on the big stage and 2) slotting bands at the appropriate times.

Some bands, Punch Brothers, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Edgar & Mike, Thelma & Louise, are just better suited to small, intimate venues in my opinion. I love all of these artists and I’m not complaining about them playing TBF but in general, seeing these artists on a small stage is so much better. But really, who’s going to tell Chris and Bela that they can’t play the mainstage? That would be ridiculous. So we get 2 brilliant musicians playing fantastic music and the guy who speaks most highly of the performance is Zack, who listened to the KOTO stream. It just didn’t come across as well in person. I fear that Elephant Revival may run into this problem, depending on the time of day that they play (asuming they grace the Shellman Stage at some point). They are one of my favorite acts EVER, but I don’t know how they will translate to the big stage. And are they an afternoon act or a late night act? They kill it at Nightgrass, but would the energy be the same at 11:15 AM on Friday?

Oh well, it wasn’t my favorite TBF of all time, but there’s still no place on earth that I would rather be. We can question the line-up but I’ll never question you all. With folks like you in attendance, it would be impossible to not have fun!

Huck -

The best part of reading your missive was how much we disagreed! I think that’s AWESOME! If we disagree so much, that means that nearly EVERY act was enjoyed by someone! Since you can’t please everyone all the time, it shows what a great festival this really is!

I look back to a certain act a few years ago that I just hated. HATED! Even though I was really looking forward to seeing him. So after the fest, I look on the forum to see that, even though I was in the majority, there were many people who enjoyed the show. That’s a GOOD thing!

So even though nobody asked, here are a couple of places we disagree:

Mangan: by far my least favorite act of the fest - stop whining!
Marling: would have been nice for her to show up on time. Good music for a very a small club with pillows.
Prine: I first saw him in small Chicago clubs (yeah, I’m OLD!) and many, mnay times since. This was one of my all-time favorite sets by him because he was having SUCH a great time: A++++
Alison: Loved her in the past, but this set was boooooorrrrrrring: C

Seryn: big surprise for me, very interesting music, though would have been better in a club: B+
KD Lang: another nice surprise: B
Hornsby: You should’a stayed: A-

I gotta say that Thursday was, by far, the mellowest day EVER at TBF. I kept hoping someone, ANYONE, would brighten things up. Prine came the closest, but everyone else was snooze-a-rama. I was particularly disappointed in AKUS. A friend saw AK a few days before and remarked that it was so slow he could hardly stay awake. This Thursday needed a shot of Fogerty … or David Byrne.

And while I would agree that this wasn’t the best T=ride musical lineup I’ve experienced in ten+ trips, it was certainly good enough to sell out in record time. And next year will be the same - I’ll love stuff that Huck doesn’t and vice versa, but no matter what, we’ll both be there!!!


I believe it. It’s sort of what I meant when I said I missed AKUS last year, but now I’m not sure why.

Not to pick on the nits, but it sold out when we didn’t know the lineup yet, so I don’t think you can draw that correlation

I lean closer to CJohn on DM as well, and the best sleep of my week was @ the NG show after JKS, during Marling (wish I had a pillow). She seemed just as bored and sleepy as me…sorry Laura. :flower
Greensky NG w/post SOH courtyard show was clearly my 2012 highlight of “official TBF concerts” (and Fogarty). Some great pickin’ in the camps this year! :cheers

:wave I’m still thinking about it :lol really. :medal and I will let you know next week when I have fully ingested it. My program and CD’s are here next to me as I work and relisten and listen again :flower

John P could be 130 crawl on stage and I would still think he’s perfect.

Good thing music is subjective :flower

Thursday, June 21, 2012

12:15 - 1:30pm — Della Mae
Only caught the end, but did catch their sound plagued set for first grass. Grade: B

3:30 - 4:45pm — Greensky Bluegrass
Have seen them a couple times, and generally like them a lot … bu thought they didn’t quite bring the heat as much as they could have Grade: B+

5:15 - 6:30pm — Laura Marling
Just not exactly my cup of teaGrade: C+

7:00 - 8:30pm — John Prine
First time seeing him, was fun but nothing over the top mind blowingGrade: B+

9:00 - 11:00pm — Alison Krauss & Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas
I also though AK’s set wasn’t quite up to where I know it could’ve been, still fun though.Grade: B+

Friday, June 22, 2012

2:45 - 4:00pm — O’Brien Party of Seven
Was working most of the morning, but heard this on the radio driving into town & liked what I heard.Grade B+

4:30 - 5:45pm — Béla Fleck & The Marcus Roberts Trio
Was given a pre-show recommendation to check this act out, and they definitely didn’t dissappoint … although couldn’t help but wonder “What if John Scofield was a part of this ensemble?” … not a complaint, just how my taste flowsGrade: A-

8:00 - 10:00pm — John Fogerty
Definitely the highlight of festival for me. Grade: A+

10:30 - Midnight — Leftover Salmon
Great back to back sets for the evening … was a lot of fun. Grade: A

Saturday, June 23, 2012

4:15 - 5:45pm — Yonder Mountain String Band
Was the first set I made it to … since was going to stay up late for LOS at the Palm. For one reason or another this year YMSB didn’t quite do it for me as much as other years. This is not to say it wasn’t a rock solid show, just didn’t get it to the next level for me for one reason or another.Grade: B+

8:00 - 10:00pm — Sam Bush Band
Seemed to be a little different than is typical setlist (although he did blurt out the same “we’re going to turn this car around” joke he made twice last year). REALLY like the Levon tribute and the general feel of this set.Grade: A-

10:30 - Midnight — Bruce Hornsby & the Noisemakers
I really liked this set from start to finish, although it did seem to pick up steam and other players int he second set. Grade: A

Sunday, June 24, 2012

1:30 - 2:45pm — Peter Rowan’s Big Twang Theory
This was one of the sets I was most anticipating, simply not knowing what this new band would produce. I think there’s a lot of potential here & it was great to hear Rowan in a non bluegrass ensemble after a few years of being mostly bluegrass, but thought it was still a bit rough around the edges and the Bo Diddley medley seemed to be rehashed from last year. Still, PR will always be my favorite “regular”. I was glad to see him so immersed in the festival all around this year. Grade: B+/A-

5:00 - 6:15pm — Punch Brothers
I’m normally not a big PB fan, but actually got into much of what was played!Grade: B

7:00 - 8:15pm — Glen Hansard
wasn’t impressed Grade: C+

Was a zombie about 1/2 before the house band was supposed to take the stage, so reluctantly threw in the towel … I’m sure it didn’t dissappoint.