Jacob Jolliff Band

Get in the bluegrass mood on Friday night at the Sheridan Opera House with the Jacob Jolliff Band. (Courtesy photo)

Telluride Bluegrass Festival may still be several days away, but the bluegrass fun begins Friday with a pregame show from Yonder Mountain String Band’s Jacob Jolliff at the Sheridan Opera House.

Jolliff has gained a name for himself amongst the festival and Yonder diehards, but plays with his side project whenever he can between YMSB gigs.

“It’s been more and more lately,” Jolliff said over the phone earlier this month. “Any time I’m not on the road with Yonder, I’m out with these guys.”

The band is a rotating cast of Jolliff’s talented friends from the younger generation of bluegrass musicians.

On Friday night, he’ll be joined by guitarist Stash Wyslouch (not to be confused with Telluride local Stash Wyslocki), fiddle player John Meilander and Miles Myles Sloniker on bass.

“Stash is a great singer and a monster player,” Jolliff said of his bandmate.

When Meilander isn’t playing with Jolliff he tours with none other than Bruce Hornsby. The two musicians went to college together, and he too is a monster musician, according to Jolliff.

Jolliff got his start in bands with Joy Kills Sorrow, an American roots string band based out of Boston, where he attended The Berklee College of Music. He was still in college while the band was picking up steam.

In spring of 2014, the band went on an indefinite hiatus, and just as he was weighing his options for next steps, Yonder came a-calling, and his first show with them was five years ago this month. Within the year, they announced him (and fiddle player Allie Krall) as official members of the band.

At his shows with Jacob Jolliff Band, Jolliff says they get a mix of Yonder fans and more traditional bluegrass fans.

“We’re definitely way different than Yonder, but still firmly within bluegrass,” Jolliff said. “Lots of super high energy music.”

And it certainly requires more involvement when the band is in your name.

“Musically I have a very different role in the group, a lot more musical responsibility,” Jolliff said. “It’s good for me to be on the road and be my own tour manager.”

“With Yonder I just sort of show up and play,” he added with a laugh.

The JJB is on a mini-tour of Colorado throughout the weekend before Jolliff returns to Telluride for the Bluegrass festival. And he may be one of the first artists (in recent memory at least) to headline the Sheridan Opera House two Fridays in a row. (Yonder will play to a sold-out Nightgrass crowd on Friday, June 21).

Tickets for the June 14 show are $20 general admission on the floor and $30 reserved seats in the balcony and can be purchased online at sheridanoperahouse.com.

It’s a big week for music in both Telluride and Mountain Village as we head into the biggest music festival of the summer.

Benyaro, an indie-Americana artist based out of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, plays Friday’s installment of the Music on the Green in Reflection Plaza (adjacent to Hotel Madeline in Mountain Village).

On Saturday from noon to 4 p.m., Alan Booradley and the NIA will be playing a free show in Mountain Village’s Heritage Plaza to help the Telluride Mountain Village Owners Association celebrate the beginning if its expanded Common Consumption Area.

Tuesday night Club Red kicks off its summer season with Josh Ritter & the Royal City Band. Ritter’s indie folk pop rock sound has grown exponentially over the years (anyone remember his Nightgrass show at the Fly Me to the Moon Saloon nine years ago?) and he’s touring to support the release of his most recent album “Fever Breaks.” Tickets are $40-$75 and the doors open at 7:30 p.m. Buy your tickets in advance online at clubredtelluride.com. This will be a must-see show.

The Telluride Bluegrass Festival formally kicks off on Wednesday night with the annual FirstGrass Concert at Mountain Village’s Sunset Plaza with the Jon Stickley Trio and BAAM! — an only-in-Telluride jamgrass supergroup featuring Ben Kaufmann and Adam Aijala (of Yonder), Andy Thorn (of Leftover Salmon), and Stephen “Mojo” Mougin of Sam Bush Band.

The music runs from 5-8 p.m. and the show is open and free to the public.

And I’ve only just skimmed the surface of musical offerings in the area this week, so please check out the Beat Sheet for more options.