News Column

The bluegrass is greener

May 30, 2014

By Amy Matthew, The Pueblo Chieftain, Colo.

May 30--These bluegrass seeds just keep sprouting. Now in its 25th year, Bluegrass at the Fair is enjoying a new wave of growth. It's well settled into its new venue, the Colorado State Fairgrounds, and organizers Damian Rotolo and Tom Thornburg -- members of the host band, Fireweed -- are attracting more acts than ever to the festival's two stages.

"Things have just fallen together this year," said Thornburg. "We typically have 16 to 18 bands. We're up to 24 this year and turned away at least a dozen."

Crowds always can expect to hear quality acts, but this year the bar is being raised a little bit higher still. Michael Martin Murphey ("Carolina in the Pines," "Wildfire") will headline on Sunday and Thornburg is excited about a recent addition -- the Andy Leftwich Trio, which will take the stage prior to the traditional Saturday night dance.

Fiddle player Leftwich and guitarist Cody Kilby are longtime members of Kentucky Thunder, Ricky Skaggs' award-winning band. The two will be joined by Byron House, who's played bass for Sam Bush, Emmylou Harris, Robert Plant, Nickel Creek and Dolly Parton.

Thornburg is particularly pleased to have Murphey close out the festival. The two met when the singer, who has a home in Pueblo County, brought some of his instruments to Thornburg and Rotolo for repairs.

"Sundays have always been our invitation to the public, especially Puebloans," Thornburg said. "We make it a big deal for local folks and the musicians like to stay for it.

"Where else can you go see Michael Martin Murphey for five dollars?"

As was the case last year, all proceeds from the festival will go to the Robyn Barst Pediatric Research and Mentoring Program for Pulmonary Hypertension. Thornburg's young granddaughter, Brooklyn Clasby, has the rare progressive disease.

"For me, it's changed the event," he said. "It's always been about the music but now there's a purpose."

Last year's donation reached $10,000. With additional sponsors on board this year, even more money is expected to go to the program.

"There's a lot more community support," said Thornburg.

The Veteran Motor Car Club will sponsor a vintage car show during the festival.

Tickets for the Bluegrass at the Fair are $35 for the weekend. Daily prices are $10 for today, $25 Saturday and $5 Sunday.

Camping spaces are $35 for the weekend.

Electric hookups are available for an additional charge.

For information, visit


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Source: Pueblo Chieftain (CO)

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