Bringing Neil Young to A Town in Colorado: Telluride Town Council Holds Hearing on Concert
Judging from the chatter in Telluride, Colorado, the only thing folks in town are talking about is a possible Neil Young concert this year.
The KOTO Community Radio news clip above covers all the intricacies of bringing Neil Young to town after 25 years of attempts.
Telluride, Colorado is a relatively small town in the high altitude ski area of the Rockies. And the Telluride Town Council is holding hearings on having a Neil Young concert in their charming mountain village.
From Telluride Daily Planet by Laurel Black:
Telluride Town Council on Tuesday approved a last-minute request from a festival organizer who says there’s a shot at bringing Neil Young — a performer organizers have been pursuing for decades — to Telluride.Stay tuned for details as they develop...
Neil Young’s agent recently contacted Steve Gumble, director of Telluride Blues and Brews, regarding a potential one- or two-night concert sometime between Sept. 23 and Oct. 2 of this year, Gumble told council members.
“We have the best shot we’ve had yet” at bringing the sought-after musician to town, Gumble said.
After more than an hour of discussion and public comment, council agreed to allow the proposed concert to go through the necessary steps for approval. These consist of a hearing from the Parks and Recreation Commission and the Commission for Community Assistance, Arts and Special Events, or CCAASE, before council hears the proposal again in June.
Gumble was quick to emphasize that the communication with Young’s agent is only an inquiry at this point, and that there are few details.
“It does not by any means mean Neil Young is going to come play Telluride in September or October,” he said. “I just want to keep everyone’s expectations at a realistic level.”
The request came in after the deadline for the Commission for Community Assistance, Arts and Special Events, or CCAASE, to consider it for this year. But Gumble asked council to make an exception due to the quality of the performer and the fact that some events — including this year’s Pretty Lights show — have also been considered and approved after town deadlines.
“If it was anyone else other than Neil Young, I wouldn’t be sitting in front of you,” Gumble said, pausing. “Maybe Eric Clapton,” he added.
Voices from the back of a packed Rebekah Hall chimed in with “The Stones” and “Paul McCartney.”
Gumble said that although the request to town is for 9,000 people, he expects an audience of about 6,000.
Gumble, town council members and a representative from the Telluride Festival of Cars and Colors agreed that the biggest concern is the potential for the concert to overlap with the car festival, scheduled this year for Sept. 29 to Oct. 2. That might put a squeeze on local lodging options.
“There’s some concern about occupancy rates,” Gumble said. “It boils down to lodging. Neil Young is a car aficionado; it’s a great fit. But the people (might not) fit.”
Michael Martelon, president and CEO of the Telluride Tourism Board, said it would be possible to “absorb” the event into the same week and weekend as Cars and Colors — although this might cause “compression” for hotels and other lodging businesses in the area.
Mark Westman, speaking as a representative for Telluride Alpine Lodging, agreed that it would be possible to accommodate the two events.
Several members of the public, from passionate Neil Young fans to East End residents to fellow festival organizers Todd Creel and Craig Ferguson, voiced support for bringing the artist to town.
“I believe Neil is the artist Telluride has been most wanting to see,” Ferguson wrote in a letter to council that was read at the meeting.
Young, now 70, is a former member of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, whose solo career has spanned more than 45 years and produced 35 studio albums. He’s been twice inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as a solo artist and a member of Buffalo Springfield.
He’s involved in environmental and social issues — in fact, his performance at this year’s Farm Aid concert, a fundraiser for farmers in danger of losing their farms, is the reason he can’t appear as part of the Blues and Brews lineup, Gumble said.
Council member Jenny Patterson said she fully supported moving forward with the approval process, but added that she worries town’s system for vetting special events isn’t working.
“We do have a system in place, and it’s getting circumvented each year, … and that worries me,” she said. “Each year it’s going to be somebody else. There are incredible performers out there around the world, and I think it’s great we can accommodate them, but I’m worried about our system. Is our system working?”
Additional concerns from council included the use of the high school for camping — students will have already returned to school by the concert date — and the potential that a one-time concert could turn into a recurring event.
“My plea to the listening audience is, should we send this through the process today, use these lower boards (Parks and Recreation and CCAASE) to make your feelings heard,” he said, noting that no one showed up to the lower board meetings on the matter of Pretty Lights’ return.
Parks and Recreation will hear the proposal May 18 and, if approved, CCAASE will consider it on June 1. After being heard by lower boards, the proposal would return to town council.
(Thanks Hounds That Howell for the fresh wheat!)