Telluride’s Ride Festival returns for its seventh annual rock ’n’ roll showcase this weekend. The Ride Festival will continue its popular after dark NightRide shows Friday-Sunday, too. Artists, including Matthew Curry, Futurebirds, Joint Point, Kitchen Dwellers and Big Something, will hold evening shows at popular local spots such as O’Bannon’s Irish Pub, the Sheridan Opera House, the Liberty and Wood Ear — a new whiskey and noodle bar on Colorado Avenue.
The Ride festival opens tonight (Friday) with a free concert by Matthew Curry at Sunset Plaza in Mountain Village at 5:30 p.m. Curry describes his music as “roots rock.”
“It’s rock ’n’ roll, but there’s influences of blues and rock and a little bit of southern country,” he told the Planet in an interview earlier this week.
A seasoned Ride performer, this will be Curry’s fourth year returning to the Telluride stage. Curry performed at the very first Ride festival in 2012. “I was lucky enough to befriend (festival organizer) Todd Creel and all the great folks there, and they’re kind enough to still put up with me and the band,” he said
Over the weekend, Curry will play three total shows. Following his free performance at Sunset Plaza, he will play at the Liberty at 10 p.m. Friday and at 11 p.m. Saturday night as part of NightRide.
“We’re looking forward to seeing all of the familiar faces of Telluride and hanging out and partying,” Curry said.
The kick-off party in Mountain Village will likely be a bit tamer than some of the NightRide performances, Curry predicted. Curry thinks people will be starting the weekend slowly at his free opener in Sunset Plaza.
“The crowd isn’t quite as rowdy as NightRide. Obviously, (by NightRide) everyone’s been rocking out and having a few drinks. It’s a little crazier which is totally fine with me,” he said.
Stuart Sundel-Norlin, the guitarist for Joint Point — another band playing a NightRide set — agreed with Curry.
“I like a rowdy crowd. Attentive and respectful, but I’m pulling for rowdy,” he told the Planet.
Sundel-Norlin believes NightRide will draw a more local crowd: people who have to work during the day, or do not want to pay for a full weekend pass. Night Ride is for people who want to let loose, he added.
Though only 23, Curry has had plenty of experience with crowds of all types. He began playing guitar at the age of 4 with his father at his home in Bloomington, Illinois. Curry is left-handed, and normally plays lefty, but his first guitar was a right-handed guitar purchased from Wal-Mart that he flipped upside down. Curry began singing with bands around central Illinois and started his own band when he was about 12. He began touring right after high school.
Since then, Curry has released three albums and toured with renowned artists such as Steve Miller, Peter Frampton, the Doobie Brothers and Journey.
“The guys I’ve gone out with have been some of my heroes so that’s been an incredible opportunity,” he said.
Music is the only thing Curry really wants to pursue for now.
“I’m still trying to do it today. It’s been a really fun ride. We’ve had great tours and great festivals,” he said. “I can’t imagine doing anything else with my life right now.”
When he’s not performing, Curry is looking forward to hearing other bands at the Ride main stage in Telluride Town Park and NightRide events. He’s even coming to town a day early so he has some time to relax.
“I might just take a gondola ride down to town and hang out and walk around. Maybe grab a beer or two and just explore a bit. Telluride is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. It’s gorgeous,” he said.
Joint Point, a local Telluride “ski bum jam band,” certainly knows the mountains of Telluride well. Joint Point had their NightRide debut during the famous weekend of Pearl Jam two years ago, and will be playing two shows this weekend.
For now, Joint Point focuses on playing concerts in the Telluride area.
“We have loose ambitions of doing other things but we’re definitely regional,” Sundel-Norlin said.
When he isn’t performing in Joint Point, he works at Bootdoctors fixing skis and bikes.
Sundel-Norlin describes Joint Point as a “psychedelic dance rock band,” which is fitting since they will play in Telluride again during the Mushroom Festival. “That’s our wheelhouse,” Sundel-Norlin said. “We definitely pride ourselves in being a high-energy, original music-based band.”
The band has been together through different iterations for about nine years, but are currently more focused on creating their own music.
“As much as I would like to play ‘Margaritaville’ ad nauseum, we’re stoked to be able to play our own music,” Sundel-Norlin said.
Joint Point group will perform first at Wood Ear Friday night at 9 p.m., and Sunday again at Wood Ear at 10:30 p.m. Sundel-Norlin is excited to open at this new venue. “It’s one room in Telluride where I haven’t played before. I’m excited to play in such an iconic space,” he said.
For those who are unable to make either of those two performances, Joint Point will return to Telluride for a concert at the Sheridan Opera House for the Telluride Mushroom Festival Aug. 15.
Weekend pass holders have automatic entry to all NightRide shows, except those at the opera house. Other viewers who wish to attend any of the NightRide concerts can buy tickets on a first come, first serve basis.
Main events will take place in Town Park on Saturday and Sunday, with the String Cheese Incident headlining both nights. Other featured artists include Sheryl Crown, Grace Potter, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead and the Dirty Knobs with Mike Campbell.
Festival tickets, including ones for the NightRide opera house shows, can be purchased at the Ride office (134 E. Colorado Ave.), or online at ridefestival.com.