For a decade now Yonder Mountain String Band has officially “kicked-off” Telluride Bluegrass with their Wednesday night show at the Telluride Conference Center. For the past few years Planet Bluegrass decided that kick-off needed a kick-off of its own – and Sunset Plaza in Mountain Village seemed like the perfectly inspiring location to have a couple of bands play a free outdoor afternoon show. This year the FirstGrass show will feature multi-instrumentalist Sarah Jarosz and jamgrass band Cornmeal.
Sunset Plaza is located along Mountain Village Boulevard in the heart of it all – the Village Center. Well-located with easy access of the Chondola, Sunset Plaza is aptly named because of its west-facing orientation resulting in great sun exposure and amazing sunset views.
Sarah Jarosz has as rich a skill set as anybody in acoustic music. She plays — not just one instrument, but enough of them to be a one-woman string band: mandolin, octave mandolin, clawhammer banjo and guitar. She sings — in supple tones that transcend the boundaries between folk and pop – and she writes — old-timey ballads and modern singer-songwriter ruminations alike. Raised 30 miles out of Austin in Wimberley, Tex., Sarah blossomed within the local music scene and well beyond it, earning admirers from Austin City Limit’s Terry Lickona to acoustic music mavens Tim O’Brien and Chris Thile with her mature sensibilities. She released her debut, Song Up In Her Head, on Sugar Hill Records the year she graduated high school. What followed was a move to Boston’s prestigious New England Conservatory, a GRAMMY nomination and performances on “Austin City Limits” and “A Prairie Home Companion” as well as prestigious music festivals. In 2011, Sarah channels her ever-broadening musical horizons onto her second album, Follow Me Down, which again showcases her songwriting, offers two tasty covers and includes a number of top-notch guests from the Punch Brothers to Shawn Colvin.
Formed over 10 years ago, Cornmeal continues to forge their own path, pushing the boundaries of bluegrass, Americana and folk with a live performance that blends lightning fast tempos, impeccable harmonies, and a vast musical repertoire. While playing a blend of high profile venues, jam-band and bluegrass festivals to thousands throughout the country, Cornmeal has shared the stage with such masters as Del McCoury Band, Leftover Salmon, David Grisman Quintet, and Little Feat. In the beginning of 2010, Cornmeal released their first live album, Live in Chicago, IL Vol. I, an album that pays tribute to the fans who supported the band as they played every Wednesday night in Chicago throughout the wintertime to small yet loyal crowds. They pride themselves on the energy they put forth each night creating an unrivalled live performance that continues to shape itself into a energetic one of a kind experience.