Rock superstar Neil Young will perform in Telluride for the first time in his storied six-decade career, with two shows set for the evenings of Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 at Telluride Town Park.
Young will be backed by Promise of the Real, a four-piece band led by Lukas Nelson, son of country music legend Willie Nelson. Young is currently touring in Europe with the band. The Telluride concerts will be a precursor to Young’s participation in the star-studded Desert Trip music festival, set for two October weekends at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California.
Steve Gumble, director of Telluride Blues & Brews Festival, and Craig Ferguson, director of Telluride Bluegrass Festival, joined forces to lure Young to Telluride. Gumble said that Ferguson has tried to book Young for more than 20 years.
“It has always been Craig Ferguson’s dream to bring Neil Young to Bluegrass,” Gumble said. “After we got him, a buddy of mine sent me a text saying, ‘You just booked the Holy Grail.’”
Gumble said he spent nearly three months negotiating with Young’s managers. As he was involved in those talks, the Telluride Town Council paved the way for the show in May by allowing an application to use Town Park to proceed to the Commission for Community Assistance, Arts and Special Events and the Parks and Recreation Commission. After those lower boards approved the event, the council gave its final blessing on June 29.
Maximum capacity for Town Park will be 9,000 people for each concert. Promoters hope to sell 8,000 tickets for each show. A two-day pass is $199, plus fees. Single-day passes are $125 each, plus fees. Three-day camping passes for Town Park are $75, plus fees.
For the general public, tickets go on sale Thursday, July 28, at 11 a.m. San Miguel County residents can purchase tickets beginning Tuesday, July 26, at 11 a.m. at two local outlets: Telluride Music (333 W. Colorado Ave.) and Wizard Entertainment (126 E. Colorado Ave.). Tickets for locals are limited to two per purchase. For more concert information, or to purchase tickets, visit neilyoungtelluride.com or call (866) 515-6166.
Gumble said Young spends a lot of time in the Telluride area because he is dating actress Darryl Hannah, who owns property here. Though Young has wanted to perform in Telluride for quite some time, Gumble said, negotiations sometimes stalled.
“There were periods of time when (Young’s managers) would get quiet,” he said. “And whenever an artist gets quiet, it makes me nervous. But they were preparing for their trip to Europe, so they were busy.
“And then they would resurface. The conversations kept progressing — sometimes not as quickly as I would have liked — but each communication was positive, with more inquiries, more questions. I felt good about it,” Gumble added.
Gumble declined to provide details of Young and Promise of the Real’s compensation package.
He said the Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 concert dates represent good timing for the town of Telluride — what he called “icing on the cake” following a busy summer music festival season.
Typically, the fall off-season period follows Blues & Brews, which is held in mid-September. With Neil Young and Promise of the Real set to play two weeks after Blues & Brews, which this year is set for Sept. 16-18, Telluride-area hotels, retailers, restaurants and bars stand to gain some extra revenue.
Gumble said Young, an advocate for sound environmental and ecological policies and practices, is a great fit for Telluride. He said he expects the famed musician will bring to Town Park his “Earth Village,” a collective of tents and booths where people can obtain information about various causes.
A news release from Gumble and Ferguson points out that while Telluride has an active summer music festival scene, one-off concerts like the Grateful Dead in 1987, Bob Dylan in 2007 and Phish in 2010 have been revered as monumental moments in the town’s music history.
Young’s two upcoming concerts promise to be included in that list of once-in-a-lifetime shows.
“I believe Neil is the artist Telluride has been most wanting to see,” Ferguson is quoted as saying in the news release.