Widespread Panic is headlining the 2019 Ride Festival. (Courtesy photo)

The 2019 version of the Ride Festival has added both an additional date and a whopper of an opening act: Widespread Panic.

Ride Festival promoter Todd Creel recently went before Telluride Town Council, the Parks and Recreation Commission, and the Commission for Community Assistance and Special Events (CCAASE) to request the evening of Friday, July 12, be added to Ride’s previously scheduled takeover of Town Park July 13-14. Creel’s bid was approved, allowing him to book the world-famous jam band Widespread Panic for Friday and Saturday.

“Panic really isn’t doing a tour this summer, more a series of one-off concerts,” Creel told the Planet Thursday, adding he was excited that Ride was able to devote a whole night to a single band. “It’s great to have one show featuring a headliner. Panic’s Friday slot is for three hours (7-10 p.m.). That — combined with their Saturday performance — should make for a series of great sets.”

As Creel told the Planet in advance of the 2015 Ride Fest, Widespread Panic “has tons of fans in Colorado and Telluride,” noting that the band holds the record for the number of sold-out shows at Red Rocks Amphitheater. “Their fans are rabid and will go virtually anywhere to see them,” Creel said.

Adding the Friday show benefits everyone involved with the festival, Creel maintained. “It costs so much to set up everything — the porta potties, the soundboard, the lighting — and all that’s in place Friday afternoon, anyway. Opening the festival Friday evening (gates open at 6 p.m.) instead of Saturday morning doesn’t displace any softball games at Town Park, and it’s better for the vendors and especially for KOTO, which reaps the revenues of beer sales.”

Widespread Panic’s Friday performance will take the place of previous Ride Fest openings in Mountain Village’s Sunset Plaza. “I love the intro show being in Town Park,” Creel said. “It’s where it should be.”

The entire lineup for the eighth annual Ride Fest was released Thursday at 2 p.m. This year, Saturday performances start at 11 a.m., when Pony Bradshaw takes the Fred Shellman Memorial stage, followed by Tyler Bryant, Thunderpussy, Los Colognes, Temperance Movement and Big Something before concluding with the Panic that is Widespread.

“Sunday is more our rock ’n’ roll day,” Creel said of the lineup that proceeds with The Commonheart, The Shelters, Dorothy, Black Pistol Fire, Rose Hill Drive, Big Head Todd & The Monsters, and Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit. Said Creel, “Rose Hill Drive is reuniting just to do Ride Fest and will play nothing but Led Zeppelin tunes to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Zeppelin’s first album,” which was named, helpfully, Led Zeppelin.

A news release issued by the festival praised Sunday’s closing act, Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit this way: “Hailing from Muscle Shoals, Alabama, Isbell has been gaining acclaim as one of the finest singer-songwriters working at the intersection of folk, country and rock today. He has proven himself to be adept at the exacting art of mapping out the territory between those genres.”  

“All the bands are a little different from each other,” Creel said. “We prefer to book bands in the rock ’n’ roll vein, balanced with jam bands so there’s something for everyone. We want to prove rock is alive and well, but keep it open-ended so we can also feature acts that lean more toward country or funk.”

Creel said his search for talent takes him to “live music performances all over the country. We love it when emerging bands play here,” going on to cite such bands as the Lumineers and Tyler Bryant that exploded nationally after playing Ride Fest. “It’s fun to watch the trajectory of those bands.”

The essential goal of Ride Fest, Creel said, is “building a locals’ event, an authentic Telluride experience, that visitors and artists can also enjoy. They leave here feeling they got a glimpse of what Telluride is really like.”

Added Creel, “Word spreads through the music community about how cool it is to play the Telluride Town Park stage.”

More than 8,000 music fans attend Ride Fest every July.

Locals can now purchase discounted paper tickets at Wizard and Telluride Music. Tickets cost $69 for Friday only, $215 for weekend general admission and $535 for weekend VIP (all prices include Town Park fees).

Tickets for out-of-towners can be purchased through ridefestival.com; prices begin at $75 for the Friday night show and top out at $568 for weekend VIP privileges, and do not include Town Park fees.