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— The Sam Bush concert at Howelsen Hill on Aug. 8 was the closest many of us have been to the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in several years.

If it's difficult for you to make the long trek to Telluride every June, don't worry. Bush, the "Mayor of Telluride" eventually will make it to Steamboat. And the past two times Bush has performed here, the tickets were as cheap as they can get - there's nothing quite like a free concert to bump up the bliss factor.

How big was the crowd at Howelsen last week? How can I put this delicately : by the second encore, the portable toilets were nearly full. I guess it comes down to simple math - beer in, beer out.

The mandolin and fiddle tunes performed by Bush just seem to fit an older Steamboat crowd comprising aging hippies, powder pigs and river rats. True to form last week, Bush performed some island-tinged "blueggae music" on his signature Gibson mandolin.

My experience attending concerts at Howelsen is that it pays to arrive early enough to select prime seating at just about the level of the sound mixing board. Not only are you closer to the energy of the mosh pit, but also I think the sound begins to mush out a little the farther you retreat behind the sound engineer.

Here's some good news - Bush has a new live concert DVD, "On the Road," that was released Tuesday. It includes 16 songs from a performance he gave almost exactly a year ago in California.

Bush is off on an Eastern concert swing this week before returning for one Colorado date Aug. 26 in Nederland during Nedfest, before returning to the Southeastern U.S.

If you can't get to Nedfest, you can recapture the blueggae bliss of last week's show at Howelsen on the new DVD.

- Tom Ross

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