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Images of two music festivals

With the musicians -- and the fans -- at Bonnaroo and Telluride

By Jason Morris
CNN

Telluride
Crowds bask in the sun at the Telluride festival.

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(CNN) -- Taking place on back-to-back summer weekends, the Bonnaroo and Telluride music festivals have one huge common thread in addition to many overlapping artists, says bluegrass guitarist Peter Rowan: music-loving audiences.

"It's the same crowd, they love music, they are there for the music, and that makes our job fun," Rowan said.

Banjo legend Bela Fleck -- who has played three of the four Bonnaroos and 23 straight Telluride bluegrass festivals -- agrees.

"Every festival has its own personality. There's something here [Telluride] that Bonnaroo, if it's lucky and they continue, may obtain, which is the same people coming back year after year developing a sense of community and getting to know each other through the years. They are both great festivals."

Now in its fourth year, the Bonnaroo music festival in Manchester, Tennessee, attracted more than 80,000 music fans to its fields southeast of Nashville the weekend of June 10. Bonnaroo's eclectic lineup covered just about every genre of music, making it a euphonic utopia for fans.

In addition to providing a forum for established acts -- which, this year, included Widespread Panic, the Dave Matthews Band, the Allman Brothers, Joss Stone, and Jack Johnson -- Bonnaroo is famous for turning fans onto new music, such as up-and-comers Ray Lamontagne, Old Crow Medicine Show, the Secret Machines, Yonder Mountain String Band, and My Morning Jacket.

This year featured jazz legend Herbie Hancock, who performed with his group the Headhunters and led a memorable jazz and funk superjam with Roots' drummer ?uestlove. Hancock also improvised with Southern rockers Widespread Panic to close out the festival, giving the fans something to talk about on the long drive home.

Pedal steel guitar hero Robert Randolph and his gospel-jam supergroup the Word gave perhaps the most talked-about performance. Randolph, along with the North Mississippi Allstars and John Medeski, make up the Word, and left the crowd buzzing with an energetic performance combining classic rock with the sweet, soulful sounds of Southern gospel.

Telluride, a weekend later, attracted 10,000 to its southwestern Colorado home where the music literally bounces off the surrounding mountains. Telluride's lineup blends traditional bluegrass legends and emerging "jamgrass" stars with country, rock, blues, folk and classical musicians.

This year featured Alison Krauss and Union Station, Emmylou Harris, Sam Bush, Peter Rowan, Bobby McFerrin, Earl Scruggs, Gillian Welch and a unique trio featuring Bela Fleck, Stanley Clarke, and Jean Luc Ponty.

A lot of the artists collaborate with one another on stage throughout the festival, leaving fans and musicians alike in awe. "A bunch of us are old friends, and when we get here we want to band together," Bush said. "Anything goes here, people are ready for any kind of music."

In addition to the main stage, fans are given an opportunity to watch more intimate "workshops" with their favorite artists.

Many fans wait in line all night long just to get a good spot at the festival. When the gates open at 9:30 a.m., the waiting masses sprint toward the stage and literally dive on top of their tarps, marking land for friends and family. This festival tradition, known as the land grab, is taken very seriously and shows the crowd's dedication to the performers.

As Sam Bush points out, it's a mutual respect.

"It's so rewarding because the audience is so great, and as you play you look out and see this incredible scenery that a lot of Americans won't ever get a chance to see. So it's pretty unique. I still think it's the premier festival in America."

Click here to see images of Bonnaroo (thanks to Joshua Silk) and Telluride.

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