Tuesday, 10 September 2013 16:57

Meeting The King of Telluride

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It started with a simple phone call from my good friend and cameraman extraordinaire, Jack.

            “Hey Mad,” he said, “I have a PA (Production Assistant) gig for you.”

            “Oh very cool, when and where?”

            “In a few weeks . . .but here’s the problem, I can’t pay you.”

            “Jeez man, come on. Why in the world would you do this to me?”

            “We’re interviewing Sam Bush.”

            “. . . .I’m there.”

A lot of you are now thinking, “Who the heck is Sam Bush?” Do yourself a favor and use your favorite search engine and look up this man. His mandolin playing changed bluegrass for generations, his band started a new genre, he has won three Grammy’s, and he has been dubbed “The King of Telluride”. Sam is one of my all time favorite musicians to say the least.

The next few weeks after the conversation I tried not getting excited to no avail. The morning of the interview I was absolutely giddy. The interview was to happen at J Gravity Strings on Broadway for a new series a director is trying to put together. J Gravity is a tiny little guitar shop stuck on a dingy street just along the outskirts of the heart of downtown. The interview was set up in the back room and we somehow managed to set up at least six different cameras in an incredibly cramped space. I spent the morning hauling equipment, running cables, ordering lunch, so on and so forth. Then the director calls me over:

            “Madison,” he says absent-mindedly while poking his iphone, “How many seats do you have in your car?

            I was perplexed by the question, “Well, uh, three if I move some stuff around.”

            Not looking up from his phone he says, “Perfect, you need to go pick up Sam from his hotel.”

My jaw dropped. I immediately ran out to my car and began throwing crap out while cursing my inability to keep a clean interior. Even though his hotel was 5 miles away on the same street, I had to Google the location just to be sure. Upon arriving at his hotel, I discovered that there were two different entrances. I parked in between them, stood outside my car and almost gave myself whiplash nervously glancing from one entrance to the other. At one point I looked down at my feet then suddenly to my right Sam was a few feet away, walking towards me.

            “Are you looking for a mandolin player?” He said jokingly.

            I couldn’t even manage a decent response; I just stuck out my hand and said, “Madison.”

            “Sam.” He replied kindly.

            I wanted to scream something along the lines of, “I FREAKING KNOW WHO YOU ARE!” But I kept my cool and got in the car.

            He made polite conversation and at one point I accidently hinted at being a musician. His obvious response was, “Oh, what do you play?”

            “Percussion . . .and mandolin.” I mumble the last part, Lord forbid I tell one of the greatest mando players on Earth that I try to play it as well.

That sparked Sam to tell old war stories of being on drumline but before he could finish his story, we arrived at J Gravity. I pulled up right in front of the store and told him that I would let him out and then park. He agreed and got out of the car and immediately two cameramen, the director and a store worker, all ran out and tried to shake his hand at once. With Sam being mobbed I turned my attention to the major task of parallel parking (which I’m awful at). I gave it my first go, glancing around the car, trying desperately not to hit anything, and I saw out of the corner of my eye that Sam has returned to my car. He begun helping me park while the other four gentlemen looked on in shock at being asked to wait. I managed to park. Sam and the crew walked inside while I fumbled my way out of the car and into the store. Sam shook hands with everyone, made introductions and was incredibly polite. I made myself part of the wallpaper and stayed out of everyone’s way except for at one point, offering Sam a bottle of water.

The interview then got underway and Sam talked for two hours. It was incredible to hear all of his stories about everything from growing up to his love for the Cardinals. I had died and gone to heaven. At the end, I asked Sam if he needed anything else to which he said, “No but thanks for everything today, Madison.” Then he was whisked off to his next appearance.

The next night Jack and I had tickets to attend his show at The Old Rock House. I elbowed my way to the front of the stage because not only was it my first time being able to shoot him, it was my first time being able to hear him live! Sam walked out on stage to uproarious applause; the house was packed. It was a solid 30 seconds of nonstop cheering and at the end of it he noticed me.

“Madison!” He yelled, “Hey girl!” and as simple as that, my life was complete, or so I thought.

After the show Jack and I found Sam at the bar talking with fans. He noticed me, gave me a big hug and leaned over to his wife Lynne and said, “Lynne! THIS is Madison! That kind young woman from yesterday that I was telling you about.” Lynne smiled sweetly at me and said, “Thank you for taking care of my husband, he spoke very highly of you.”

We stayed and talked to Sam and Lynne for two and a half hours . . .then my life was complete.


J Gravity Interview


Madison Thorn Telluride 1



Sam's Arrival

Madison Thorn Telluride 


The Two Hour Discussion

Madison Thorn Telluride 3 


The Show at The Old Rock House


 Madison Thorn Telluride 4

Madison Thorn Telluride 5