After 37 appearances at Telluride, Tim O’Brien feels right at home

12:59 p.m. June 21 at cloudless Telluride Town Park –  For as long as I can remember, Tim O’Brien has been onstage at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival every June starting with Boulder’s Ophelia Swing Band, and then Hot Rize/Red Knuckles and the Trailblazers, and as a solo artist. He’s played 37 Tellurides. At the moment he’s playing fiddle onstage 25 yards from me with one helluva backup band: award-winning banjoist Noam Pikelny (Punch Bros.), flatpicking guitar savant Bryan Sutton (Hot Rize)

, and bluegrass bass all-star Mike Bubb. Telluride is one of the very few festivals that invites a core group of musicians back annually and with it comes very high audience expectation that they will get one of those only-in-Telluride sets. Besides Tim, I see Jerry Douglas, Peter Rowan, Bela Fleck, Edgar Meyer, and Boulder’s Yonder Mountain String Band play virtually every year. It’s like a great big musical family reunion that allows for unusual groupings and guests. That means that dobroist extraordinaire Douglas sits in for a song with Lake Street Dive. Young songwriter/instrumentalist Sarah Jarosz was just singing harmonies with Tim.

Up next: The thrash-grass of Tramples by Turtles (2 to 3:15 p.m) and Peter Rowan (3:45 to 5 p.m.) The festival is being live streamed at


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