42nd RockyGrass might bring folks to tears

There will be plenty of reason for 2014 RockyGrass attendees to dance, as Patrick Noel, left, and Emilyn Inglis did last year. (Michael Wilson / Special to the Camera)
There will be plenty of reason for 2014 RockyGrass attendees to dance, as Patrick Noel, left, and Emilyn Inglis did last year. (Michael Wilson / Special to the Camera)

By Quentin Young

RockyGrass is on.

That’s the good news for Planet Bluegrass, which produces the bluegrass festival at its Lyons ranch and has worked nonstop since the September flooding to repair severe damage throughout the property.

It’s also good news for the event’s many fans, who bought up tickets in record speed. Three-day passes sold out within 24 hours and single-day passes were all gone six weeks earlier than ever before, according to Planet Bluegrass spokesman Brian Eyster.

But there’s also  good news for those who missed out on getting tickets. The Planet is working with Boulder radio station KGNU to stream the whole festival (except the set by Alison Krauss & Union Station;  Krauss didn’t want her performance to be streamed, Eyster said), and a  stream of RockyGrass would be a first.

“We wanted people outside Lyons to experience this,” Eyster said.

RockyGrass (July 25-27) and the bluegrass academy that precedes it (July 20-24) will be the first public event at Planet Bluegrass since the flood, and emotions are likely to spill over, especially among the Planet’s staff. The Planet produces the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, which concluded June 22, and the staff has been distracted enough with the pace of work leading up to RockyGrass that there’s been little time to dwell on how far they’ve come since September, Eyster said.

“We continue to get busier and busier, so I think we’ve had to postpone the emotions,” Eyster said. “I think what that means is it’s just going to hit everyone like a Mack Truck.”

That likely will happen about  11 a.m. July 25, when The Railsplitters, a group with strong ties to Lyons, kicks off the festival with its performance. The quartet won the RockyGrass band competition last year, which guaranteed them a main stage slot this year.

“It’s super cool to open the festival with a Lyons band,” Eyster said.

“We expect it to be a very emotional festival for the community and for all the volunteers and staff who have helped bring Planet Bluegrass back to life,” The Railsplitters’ Lauren Stovall wrote in a text from Alaska, where the band is traveling. “We are honored to be a part of it.”

The RockyGrass lineup also includes Ricky Skaggs, Bruce Hornsby, Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn, Sam Bush and Hot Rize.

After the flood, Eyster said, the Planet staff felt a sense of responsibility to fans of RockyGrass to ensure the festival went ahead as scheduled.

“A lot of it is to have the continuity of these traditions … and to know that we did everything in our power to make sure there’s a 42nd (RockyGrass),” Eyster said. “In the back of our minds we’ve said, ‘We can’t let these people down.’ ”

Musicians included. Some of the top names in bluegrass, such as Bush and  Fleck, view RockyGrass as one of the most important bluegrass festivals in the country, Eyster said.

Ensuring the festival didn’t have to be canceled was part of letting the “circle be unbroken,” he said, quoting a traditional  country hymn.

The Planet  also is thinking ahead to its annual Rocky Mountain Folks Festival, scheduled for Aug. 15-17. Tickets remain  for the festival, which features Randy Newman, Brandi Carlile, Dispatch, Josh Ritter, Ani DiFranco and many other performers.

If you go

What: 42nd annual RockyGrass

When: July 25-27

Where: Planet Bluegrass, 500 W. Main St., Lyons

Info: bluegrass.com

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