Just in time for the 32nd edition of Telluride's namesake bash (June 16 through 19), Rounder has released a CD and separate DVD documenting the event's thirtieth anniversary, in 2003. Both projects exemplify the non-traditional nature of the gathering -- an approach that usually pays dividends but comes with some risks.
The DVD does a fine job of tracing the fest's evolution via interviews with folks such as Emmylou Harris, who shines alongside the Sam Bush Band on "Two More Bottles of Wine." The CD, for its part, presents a more straightforward musical mix, with fine performances by Kasey Chambers ("Not Pretty Enough"), Nickel Creek (a reimagined "Taxman") and Colorado's own Yonder Mountain String Band ("Too Late Now"). Unfortunately, our fair state also contributes to the disc's nadir. The version of Stevie Wonder's "I Wish" offered by the String Cheese Incident and Martin Sexton pours all of progressive bluegrass's worst qualities into one convenient, vomit-ready receptacle.
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Although the 2003 lineup was strong, this year's model has a major advantage: The Cheesers aren't on it. Like these two sets, that's cause for celebration.