Colorado footnotes – producing Boulder Acoustic Society’s Coal, Cotton, and Dust EP – Pagosa, and Telluride – Delta Delta Delta, can I help ya help ya help oh never mind

Todd Livingston, Jefferson Hamer, and Sam Grisman at Pagosa

I’m pretty sure that Delta employees profile musicians. They target them from behind closed circuit cameras and lick salty lips in anticipation of the coming excess baggage charge. They dress like cafeteria workers in a privatized high-school lunch program and treat their customers like 4th graders who forgot their milk money. I’d go on longer but I’m trying to bury too many bad memories, and as a friend of mine once said, talking about your troubles only makes them stick around longer. In fairness, she was talking about emotional dysfunction, which is a condition I’m threatening to approach if I wait for this delayed Delta flight any longer.

All is well – I made it home.

I’m back in New York after a three-week trip to Colorado, which for the most part was a total delight. I kicked things off at the Pagosa Folk and Bluegrass festival, where I caught up with some old friends and saw some great music. Darrell Scott’s festival-closing solo set was a particular highlight. Here’s a shot of my friends in the Bearfoot band, who taught the kids’ camp all week and then played a great set on the main stage.

After an all-night drive on Sunday, I headed to Denver and moved in with the guys fromĀ Boulder Acoustic Society.

We rehearsed for three days and recorded for six, nailing down five songs for their new acoustic EP. It’s called Coal, Cotton, and Dust, and it’s going to come out in August. It was a joy to produce their record. On the last night, sometime around 2:00 AM, Aaron Keim started bowing his open-back banjo while bassist Neil McCormick controlled the settings on engineer John Macy’s Space Echo unit. I have no idea how much of the stuff is going to make it into the final mix, but in my hazy memory I remember it sounding a bit like Ravi Shankar sitting in on a Donovan record. We worked late every night and ate Mexican food from a curiously plural taqueria called Tacoss.

Boulder Acoustic Society (back row): Aaron Keim, Neil McCormick, Scott McCormick, Scott Aller - (front row): producer Jefferson Hamer, engineer John Macy

I finished off the Colorado trip at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, where I reconnected with old friends and enjoyed an all-star lineup. Highlights included Irish Rockabilly sensation Imelda May, who made me want to trade in my Tele for an old Gretsch hollowbody and sing gravel-throated breakup songs while strutting across the stage in a sexy dress. Other highlights included Swedish progressive folk trio Vasen, and Bela Fleck, Edgar Meyer, and Zakir Hussein. I had to catch an early AM flight out of Denver, so I missed the Sunday night headliner Mumford and Sons, but I caught them on the radio. They sounded as fun to watch as they looked to hang out with. I regret having to miss their rousing, emotional performance. Speaking of regrets: I missed my chance at a Friday night tweener– 9:45 PM, right after Lyle Lovett- because as I was warming up backstage the crew mistook me as the guitarist for Leftover Salmon (I’ve never been mistaken for Vince Herman before, maybe it’s the grey hair). Rumours were circulating the next day that I had been forcibly escorted from the backstage area by commandos in desert fatigue. Maybe they caught wind that I was going to play a 25+ verse English Ballad about a woman cursed to stay pregnant forever and her plan to break the spell by employing a wax baby deception at a staged christening party called “Willy’s Lady” (hey, they told me to play something “trippy”). Look for that hit single on my upcoming ballads record with Anais Mitchell. Recording commences this August.

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