Book Lodging

Tim O'Brien Returns to Telluride

Friday • March 29, 2019

Two GRAMMYs, over 30 albums and a spot in the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame - and that's just the start of Tim O'Brien's storied Bluegrass career. A regular Telluride performer, O'Brien has found himself drawn back year after year to our tiny box canyon.

So he's back yet again! O'Brien will be performing with his band at the Sheridan Opera House Thursday, April 4 at 8 p.m. Tickets are still available - don't miss your chance to see this legend live!

Telluride.com: You're originally from West Virginia... where do you reside now? 

Tim O'Brien: Jan and I live in Nashville as do the rest of the band except Patrick who lives near LA.

Telluride.com: How many instruments can you currently play?

Tim O'Brien: I play guitar, fiddle, mandolin, and various other fretted strings like Banjo, bouzouki, Mandola, cittern (kinda like a bouzouki which is kinda like a mandolin except bigger). 

Telluride.com: Any particular favorite you prefer playing?

Tim O'Brien: I started on guitar, and for singing it’s the easiest fit. I kinda based this band around me playing guitar and singing lead. It kinda brings me back home. 

Telluride.com: You've played a ton of music and performed with plenty of bands over the years. What has been the most satisfying for you as a musician?

Tim O'Brien: Getting to know some of my heroes like Doc Watson, Sam Bush, Norman Blake. Also, having other folks sing my songs is the ultimate compliment. Satisfying to know folks have been listening. 

Telluride.com: Where do you draw your influence from?

Tim O'Brien: Everyone I’ve ever heard or played with. As a singer and writer as well as a player, the inspiration comes from more places than the musical world. Literature, history, Mother Nature, and there’s always good food! 

Telluride.com: What was it like winning multiple GRAMMYs - was one more special than the other? 

Tim O'Brien: Getting the first one, for “Fiddlers Green”, was mind-blowing. It was almost embarrassing to realize how bad I wanted one! 

Telluride.com: You recently released a new full-length album, Tim O'Brien Band. What makes this album special? How does it vary from your past albums?

Tim O'Brien: It’s a return to my basic routine, and I’m kinda taking a slower pace maybe, taking time to enjoy it. I often make records with a larger cast of players, and then tour as a solo or duo. This recording means to establish a regular touring band, and I think of it as just the start of what we can develop. 

Telluride.com: We saw Dan Auerbach (of the Black Keys) contributed on a few of the songs. What was that like working with him to complete the album?

Tim O'Brien: Dan has a very cool situation, with a great studio where he goes and writes with various people, he has his own label and he produces the records there. He’s all about just making music, and it seems like he’s set things up so he can just let the world come to him and his music. Writing with him is real comfortable. He sorta pulls things out of you, reminds you that there’s no forcing things. It feels like the right thing to do! 

Telluride.com: Any favorite songs?

Tim O'Brien: I like “Wind” and “La Gringa Rene” as a little mini set in the middle of the more traditional sounding songs. I like hearing Patrick lay the cold steel to the strings on “Diggin’ My Potatoes”, and I like the way Shad bends the notes on “Drunkard’s Walk”. 

Telluride.com: You've played a bunch in Telluride - any idea how many?

Tim O'Brien: I think this June will make my 43’d year performing there. I could say I grew up there except it’s debatable that I ever grew up!

 

Telluride.com: We saw you played with the Ophelia Swing Band at the 2nd Annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival. What was that like? How have things changed?

Tim O'Brien: Yeah things have slowly developed and changed, it’s more well ordered in the production and so on. There’s a whole tradition at Town Park campground - themed campsites, special events each night as the festival approaches, that wasn’t there at first. But the mood is the same. There’s a magical combo of a high mountain valley and acoustic music that attracts a special audience. If you make the trip you’re already with the program before you get there.

Telluride.com: What keeps bringing you back to our tiny box canyon?

Tim O'Brien: It’s who I am. It’s pointless to fight the pull of it.

Telluride.com: Any favorite memories/shows from your performances here?

Tim O'Brien: I was a little terrified sitting in with Bonnie Raitt - it was all of a sudden and my fiddle was SO loud. David Byrne’s and Solomon Burke’s sets were transcendent. 

Telluride.com: Anything else you'd like to add?

Tim O'Brien: Looking forward to hearing this band in the opera house.