Ticket to RIDE: Memorable Moments from Colorado’s Rocky Mountain Music Fest

Up close and personal with energetic performers, deep inside the Rockies

Year-after-year, the annual batch of festivals starts to look interchangeable. Whether they’re pumping up the usual crop of overpaid, under-performing DJs, or attempting a quick money grab, these things all start to blend together after a while. But perhaps the best cure for festival fatigue is to soak in something completely different.

Case in point is Telluride, Colorado’s The Ride Festival, a two-day camping-based event taking place in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, featuring a blend of well-known favorites and off-the-beaten-path acts of rock, folk, gospel, and country. The Ride Festival celebrates its sixth year this July 8th and 9th, with headliners Beck and Ben Harper, alongside a slew of best kept secrets. The two day event finds attendees pitching tarps on the festival grounds for hiking, rafting, climbing, fishing, mountain biking, hot springs and — of course — watching their favorite bands under the stars.

“Our capacity is 9000. People come and get in line early and they bring their tarps and set up their space,” says Ride Festival Director Todd Creel. “We have 1200 camping spaces immediately adjacent to the venue and the town park campground on the river. Then we have another 900 camping spaces at Lawson Health fields, which is three miles west of town.”

Creel spoke with Cuepoint about some of Ride’s most memorable moments from recent years.

“That was taken from the sound booth during Pearl Jam’s set last year. That looks kind of earlier in their set, as they are still doing the acoustic thing. That gives you a pretty good sense of the crowd and the venue. The venue is at almost 9000 feet, there are peaks all around it at 13,000-14,000 feet. It’s a pretty intimate, alpine setting.”

“So every year on Sunday morning we do a gospel set. That’s a guy we’ve brought a couple of times named Mike Farris. He’s a gospel artist and that was taken with his band the Roseland Rhythm Revue… He brings the whole spiritual thing. He’s a pretty lively performer. He’s also a former heroin addict. He cleaned up, found gospel and he’s pretty serious about it.”

“That’s a band by the name of HoneyHoney. They’re a two-piece band — I mean, they have a drummer — but they basically perform as a duet. They’re kind of an acoustic rock duo. Great songwriters, great performers.”

“That’s Matt Shultz, the lead singer from Cage the Elephant in 2016. He went out over the fence and the crowd was holding him up. He was literally walking on the crowd.”

“That’s Jackie Greene and Joan Osborne. For a very brief moment they had a band called Trigger Hippy. Their drummer was Steve Gorman, formerly of the Black Crowes. They made one record and were only together for a few months. They played a show at the Opera House at Ride in 2015 in that was probably the best show I have ever seen at the venue. They are all amazing talents. Put them together and they blew everyone away.”

“That is the bass player and the guitarist for a band called Rival Sons. They’re a four-piece rock band who are coming back this year. In my mind, there aren’t too many really good, authentic rock bands out there that are current. Those guys definitely rank up there.”

“That’s Thievery Corporation. They came our third year. They have a DJ, but they also have a full band.”

“That’s C.C., the drummer from Little Hurricane. They were kind of the crowd favorite last year. A lot of people hadn’t heard of them, but everybody knew them by the time they left. They made a lot of new fans.”

“Here’s Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam in 2016… Two years ago, when we ended up bringing Widespread Panic, we actually had confirmed Eddie Vedder to play solo and Chris Cornell to play solo the other night. Then Eddie had some issues come up and had to cancel, and when he did, Cornell also cancelled. I’ve been trying to get him every year. We almost had him this year too, but they decided to do the Soundgarden thing instead. I’m pretty bummed out about [his passing].”

Ride Festival happens July 8th and 9th in Telluride, Colorado. For tickets, visit www.ridefestival.com.