Save for a few puppy pulling wookies dogs are rarely allowed at concerts. At Summer Camp you see the occasional service dog, but for the most part festivals have a strict no dogs allowed policy. This is most definitely not the case at the Bark and Bluegrass Festival in Fort Collins. In fact the dogs are the honored guests with pools and volunteers passing out treats, it is obvious that dogs are most definitely welcome. This is my second year in attendance and of course my dog’s second show. Set in the Civic Center Park in Fort Collins, this is their third year putting on the show to benefit the Larimer Humane Society. This year was a step back from last year’s two-day event with one night of music and a more centralized lineup. Headlined by Emmitt-Nershi Band there was plenty of music and fun to fill up an entire day. All of the members of Emmitt-Nershi have performed at Summer Camp save for bassists Johnny Grubb. Billy with Honky Tonk Homeslice in 2006, Drew Emmitt and Andy Thorn this year with Leftover Salmon have taken the stage in Chillicothe.
I was flying in from Vermont for work, so I raced up to town to catch Bluegrass Delta Force at 4 PM. The Bluegrass Delta Force are a traditional string group that really impressed. Former WhiteWater Ramble fiddle player Adam Galblum was prominent in their mix, which was nice. As a group they are incorporating great talent and awesome song selection. They were given a hour and a half slot to play meaning they really got to stretch their musical legs in the show and really show the crowd whey they were all about. The highlight of their set was a version of Roger Miller’s “King of the Road” sung by bassist Andrew Bonnis.
For anyone who has been to Hodi’s Half Note in Fort Collins it’s likely that you saw a stout beardo behind the soundboard, what many including myself did not know is that Jeremy Grant fronts the band Turn 4. This Greely based act was a blend of rockabilly, alt country, and bluegrass. They have an intense style to their playing while maintaining solid musicianship. Taking influence from Dylan, Tom Waits, Rolling Stones, and Waylon Jennings, it’s obvious to anyone watching that they are a personified tapestry of all of their heroes. Along with a slew of originals they also busted out their version of the Rolling Stones’ “Dead Flowers” and Pink Floyd’s “Have A Cigar.”
As the sun set over the park it was time for the Leftover Salmon, String Cheese Incident intermingle Emmitt-Nershi Band. The raw talent of this group is enough get any fan excited, not to mention the fact that the group also includes banjo master Andy Thorn as well as John Grubb on bass. This was my first time seeing them with Grubb and he held down the beat incredibly well. Save for one or two ENB songs, the setlist was mainly comprised of Salmon and Cheese tunes which really seemed to delight the crowd. They opened with “Gold Hill Line” Additional highlights of their almost two hour set included a massive “Restless Wind”, a beautifully Emmitt sung “Down In The Hollow”, and a popping version of “Johnny Cash”. This was by far the best show I’ve seen from EMB and I was incredibly happy they were chosen to headline this fest. Bark and Bluegrass is such a unusual premise for a festival. Sitting beside my pup and listening to some incredible bluegrass is a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon in Fort Collins. They encored with a fun and relaxed “Barstools.” I would highly recommend to any pet or music lover to make the trek to Bark and Bluegrass. It is truly a unique event in Northern Colorado.