Unforgettable Musical Moments
Telluride Bluegrass Festival

Unforgettable Musical Moments

Unforgettable Musical Moments

Unforgettable Musical Moments

Pushing the boundaries of Bluegrass

In 2023, we’ll celebrate 50 years of not-just-bluegrass. If you’ve been to the fest, you know what we’re talking about. If you haven’t, then you might be surprised to hear some of the headlining acts we’ve had over the years don’t quite fit into the Bill Monroe traditional bluegrass box. As they say, the grass is always bluer on the other side.

The incorporation of “wildcards” into our musical expression is intentional, and we love to lean into it. It’s our way of dodging norms, keeping things fresh, and introducing new and different acts to our febrile Festivarians. We deliver doses of musical medicine via melodies, harmonies, and these exploratory, soundful surprises.

Here are some (not all) of our genre-bending highlights through the years, as well as some indelible artists we look back on fondly time after time.

Do you have a favorite we haven’t mention here? Send us a message and tell us who/ why!

1976, 1977, 1987, 1980, 1981, 1983, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1991, 1993, 1998

John Hartford




John Hartford & NewGrass Revival circa 1989




1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1984, 1996

Norman Blake


Spotted: Nancy & Norman



1982, 1999

Willie Nelson




1983, 1986, 1987, 1993

Doc Watson




1986, 1989, 1990, 2003, 2018

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band






1987

Rodney Crowell & Roseanne Cash


We are in search of photos! Got any? Send ‘em HERE!

1989

Alison Krauss and Union Station


1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2010, 2012, 2014

Alison Krauss holds the record for the second most Grammy awards won by a female artist (a whopping 27). The number one spot belongs to Beyoncé who has 28 wins (we concede that she deserves that one).

Alison holds the 4th spot on this list if you broaden it to include the most Grammys won by any individual musical artist. Her group Union Station has won 14 Grammys, the 3rd most decorated band behind U2 and Foo Fighters.

We’ll let those statistics speak for themselves, yeah?





1990, 1991

James Taylor


Back in 1990, Telluride Bluegrass didn’t have capacity restrictions. James played his set to a mesmerized crowd of 13,000 people. It wasn’t “sold out,” because what is a sell out if you don’t have a limit on your capacity?

When he returned in 1991, thousands more tacked on that number. A crowd of 16,000 packed itself into the park, sacrificing their 

Makes sense the two largest revolved around this superstar. We settled on an 11,500 capacity in 1992 and haven’t exceeded it since.




James Taylor & Queen of Telluride Emmylou Harris



1990

Mary Chapin Carpenter


1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2003.



1991

The Chicks


Winners of the 1990 band contest, this early variation of The Chicks (pre Natalie Maines) was hot off their formation in Dallas. It’s a long road from Texas to Telluride, but boy are we glad they made the trip.

Wish we saw more outfits like this nowadays…


1992, 2014, 2022

Drepung Loseling Monks



1993, 2001, 2004

John Hiatt





1995, 2004

Ani DiFranco




1997

Johnny Cash


This one kinda speaks for itself, right?


1997

John Prine


John was a great friend of the festival and performed in 1997, 2006, 2012, and 2016. We miss him dearly.






1997, 2004

Guy Clark




1987, 1991, 1997, 2004, 2012

Lyle Lovett



1997

David Crosby


We are in search of photos! Got any? Send ‘em HERE!

2000, 2013

Jackson Browne




Got any photos from 2000? Send ‘em our way!

2000, 2002, 2006

Bonnie Raitt




2004, 2021

Mavis Staples




2006

Barenaked Ladies



2006, 2011, 2021

The Decemberists





2006

Neko Case



2007

Counting Crows




2007

The Avett Brothers



2008

Arlo Guthrie



2008

Ryan Adams


Remember when Ryan covered Taylor Swift’s 1989 in full? Or was that a fever dream? Either way, we’ve never been able to forget it.


2009

David Byrne


We are in search of photos! Got any? Send ‘em HERE!

2010, 2014, 2017, 2019

Brandi Carlile



2010, 2011

Mumford and Sons


It was a chilly, foggy evening in Telluride when Mumford and Sons took the stage for the first time.



2012

John Fogerty


Talented guitarist and core founder of Creedence Clearwater Revival, John Fogerty’s storytelling spans generations.


2014

Steve Winwood


We are in search of photos! Got any? Send ‘em HERE!

2015

Janelle Monáe



2015, 2019

Kacey Musgraves







2017

Nora Jones



2018

Sturgill Simpson



2018

Billy Strings


For all those asking (you know who you are), we fondly remember Billy Strings’ first performance on the Main Stage in 2018. Hard for him to top this one, maybe that’s why he hasn’t come back since?


2019

Gregory Alan Isakov


2007 troubadour winner



2021

Jierks Dentley


We still can’t believe this happened.






2022

Tenacious D


As it turns out, Festivarians have a lot more crossover with D fans than you’d imagine. Must be the overwhelming love for authentic songwriting and soft spot for saxabooms.