Article by Miles Hurley
Photo Courtesy of Ride Festival Publicity
Next month, on July 14 and 15, RIDE Music Festival will return to Telluride, Colorado for the seventh year in a row. Taking place once again in the intimate and picturesque venue of Telluride’s Town Park, RIDE’s lineup this year will see the likes of The String Cheese Incident, Sheryl Crow, Grace Potter, JRAD, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, and more. In addition to the main stage sets, each night the the festival will also feature “Night Ride” performances at various music venues around Telluride. In our anticipation, The Poke Around sat down with RIDE festival promoter Todd Creel and learned about his beginning and current visions for a one of a kind event like this.
“I had been the board president of the radio station, KOTO, for several years, so I had assisted with some music events through the radio station,” Creel tells The Poke. “I had attended Telluride Bluegrass for many, many years, and had been to Blues & Brews many times. But I really wanted to do more of a rock ‘n roll event.”
And rock ‘n roll they’ve certainly delivered. One of RIDE’s appeals since its inception has been its combination of big artists performing in a setting that would normally be too small for them—and when we say big, we mean really big. “When we brought Pearl Jam two years ago, they weren’t playing venues that small at all,” says Creel. “But they’ed heard through the grapevine how amazing Telluride is, and it was maybe one of the best shows I’ve seen in our park, to have a band like that, with just 9,000 people.” Also headlining RIDE in the past have been superstars like Beck, David Byrne, and Cage The Elephant, among others.
Yet, for all the heavy hitters, RIDE also likes to provide a platform for the more up and coming acts. This year, Night Ride will showcase sets from jamgrass groups like Kitchen Dwellers, roots rock duo Larkin Poe, groove rockers The Big Something, and more. “Half the time,” Creel says, “the moments you really remember are from a band you’ve never heard of, or weren’t that familiar with.” Especially when, as Creel also informed us, a band goes from being not so familiar to becoming an indie giant. “Our very first year, we brought The Lumineers, and at that point hardly anyone had heard of them, and they only knew like forty-five minutes of music. But they were great, and they’ve gone on to do some pretty great things.”
Given his musical background, the extent to which Creel also said he likes to go to choose the best acts possible seem not as surprising. “For me, half the fun is that we get a lot of submissions, and I literally go and look through every single one. It’s just a really rewarding part of doing the work.”
In addition to discovering new talent, the other yearly possibility that gets him and the RIDE Fest team excited is the chance for rare musical collaborations to happen. “It really depends on the artists, some are more open to mixing it up than others,” Creel explains. ”But we’ve seen some great collaborations over the years. That’s the nice thing about a festival format: you have a lot of talented artists, and if they’re so inclined, you never know who’s going to end up jamming together, or who’ll pull out some great material that no one expected.”
When we asked who Creel himself was most looking forward to see perform, he didn’t need long to answer. “I feel really excited about getting to see Mike Campbell, who’s coming with his band The Dirty Knobs. He was the guitar player for Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers. We love to feature talented guitar players, and he’s among the top ones living, I think.”
To get more information about RIDE Music Festival and to purchase tickets, head to https://ridefestival.com/.