Real life stops at Ride festival . Sheer rock faces in the distance and a heavily forested backdrop for the small wooden stage make it easy to feel a sense of escape for a weekend. No wi-fi signal, no cell phones out, with the focus on music and the people around you -- the way a music festival should be.
From Denver up I-70 past the ski towns, through Grand Junction and the winding San Juan mountains, sits a boxed canyon that holds the small mountain town of Telluride. Ride festival, now in its third year, has built an audience of three and a half thousand that suits the vibe well. There is always room to dance or set your chair or sun shade with no competing for grass space.
"An interesting piece of this festival in general is that a lot of festivals have to put a lot of money and a lot of thought in to the fan experience by setting up certain areas, and and vibe out the space, and here, they don't have to do that," says Darcy Schneider of Xsposure Events, which works on sponsorship for several festivals. "You're in Telluride, and the moment you get here there is that energy, that vibe, that feeling of being down here."
The strong lineup makes the festival feel something like a secret club. It's an eclectic mix, featuring everything from folk to rock and gospel to electronic. Todd Creel is Ride's talent buyer.
"It's his brain child, and he books the music he gravitates toward," Schneider says.
Thievery Corporation specifically asked its management to book an outdoor festival. The band took the day after its set to fly fish in the San Miguel river.
On, Sunday morning Harlem Gospel Choir kicked off the proceedings. Nine members dressed in all black with bright tribal print large collars layered neatly on their chests belted "Amazing Grace," Pharrel's "Happy" and "Oh Happy Day." Normally used to playing in metropolitan areas, they made a point to say from the stage that they were playing "what has to be the most beautiful venue in the world." Later, rock band Delta Rae slapped drum sticks together and danced freely on stage.
The Wood Brothers with a trio of bass, harmonica and guitar playing ballads, sounded right at home in the mountain setting. Festivals like this is what are seems their music is made for.
The after parties, hosted at three different venues in town are included in the price of the festival, adding to the variety of the weekend. Some artists doubled up on gigs and performed at the NightRide events.
All of the festival's vendors were from Colorado. "We don't want to just grab twenty people and just throw them in there, we want to really build relationships and grow with the brands and see what else we can do each year. Since everything is so small and everyone knows each other here, it's really great. You can do everything really fast," Schneider says. Ride is small enough the attendees feel like they're getting a special slice of summer, but large enough it can book large enough bands to make the drive from Denver worth it.