This past weekend the 49th presentation of the bluegrass community staple RockyGrass came to a close and once again, the gathering was a rousing success. Presented with the care and talents of the illustrious Planet Bluegrass, attendees were treated to three days of local, regional, and national talents inspired by the Appalachian sound. As is customary with this family friendly festival, equipped with onsite camping, all age access to the cool waters of the North St. Vrain river, and the picturesque red rock canyon walls that surround the grounds, RockyGrass sold out like so many years before and attendance on Sunday, its final day, reflected that most, if not all, of the lucky souls who had tickets for the three day festival stayed all the way to the last note.
First sponsored by Bluegrass Godfather Bill Monroe in 1972, this festival has hosted an unimaginable number of magical musical moments, including reunions, tributes, and amazing sit-ins by those at the top of their stringed game. Every year, that promise is what has driven so many patrons back to the sleepy town of Lyons on the Front Range of Colorado. This year one such reunion came in the creative combination of Peter Rowan and Jerry Douglas. Although these two bluegrass legends have shared the stage in other collaborations and guest sit-ins over the years, Sunday’s blue hued afternoon was the first time these two had performed as a duo since touring their 1996 release Yonder.
The set these two shared was perfect for the day of rest, telling stories and exchanging banter as an attentive audience listened and laughed along for 90 minutes, taking in every musical note and enjoying historical recollections of the songs and tales from their multi-decade careers.
After nearly three decades, the music itself was surprisingly without falter, whether it being that these gentlemen are just that good or incredible at covering the mistakes, the former being the probable, as nary an unsatisfied face could be seen across the green field. Although Rowan and Douglas had the album Yonder to pull material from, only three of the 15 songs performed originated from the recording.
The friendship and camaraderie of these two giants is as real as it comes, as the two spent a great deal of time before and after their set catching up, exchanging stories, and filling their space with that joyous laughter that comes from deep within the soul when one is with another that they are connected to through a long history and genuine kinship.
Going back and listening to the purity of Yonder as well as experiencing the RockyGrass set, it would certainly be a shame if these two didn’t get together again in the near future, maybe even performing the album in its entirety. Although ever seeing another album by these two as a duo may be more than wishful thinking, after the applause and recognition of the audience on Sunday, it seems like it would be widely welcomed and I know at least 5000 people who would be in for more.