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Bearfoot and Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper at Folk ’N Bluegrass fest

The third annual Pagosa Folk ‘N Bluegrass festival will kick off on Friday, June 4, with the Free Friday concert at the gazebo in Town Park.

Halden Wofford and the Hi-Beams start out at 5 p.m., followed by The Quebe Sisters Band from 6:30 until 8. The free event also features food vendors and a beer garden — all on the banks of the lovely San Juan River.

The Reservoir Hill portion of the festival begin at noon, Saturday, June 5. Including the two bands playing Free Friday, this year’s lineup is composed of 12 nationally-known performing artists: Darrell Scott, The Belleville Outfit, Darol Anger’s Republic of Strings, Missy Raines and the New Hip, Matt Flinner Trio, The Black Lillies, Honey Don’t, The Badly Bent and this week’s two featured bands: Bearfoot and Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper.

Although Bearfoot has nine years, major festivals, and three albums under their belt, their latest CD release, “Doors and Windows,” contains many firsts. This is the first Bearfoot CD to feature guest musicians, in this case Andrea Zonn of James Taylor And Band (fiddle), Andy Hall of The Infamous Stringdusters (dobro), Alison Brown (banjo) and Larry Atamanuik, whose drums also represent another Bearfoot first. The band, all of whom sing, have also elected to rely more on a lead singer approach, with Odessa Jorgensen taking charge of the vocals. California-born fiddle player and vocalist Jorgensen, formerly a member of The Biscuit Burners, joined Bearfoot in September 2008.

Produced by Compass Records’ Garry West, “Doors and Windows” is made up of 11 gorgeous songs steeped in the bluegrass music tradition but unafraid to befriend other genres. The opening song, “Oh My Love” has a gentle, rolling melody that speaks to the freedom of loving without fear and is the perfect lead-up and juxtaposition to the toe-tapping traditional, “Single Girl.” Bearfoot proves less-is-more on the old-timey inspired “Caroline” (written by former member Annalisa Tornfelt) and their show-stopping a cappella original “Good in The Kitchen”. The title track, penned by Jorgensen and featuring hypnotic guitar and fiddle underpinnings, is darkly evocative musical poetry. Bearfoot tackles their first pop cover with a laidback version of The Beatles’ “Don’t Let Me Down.”

 The overall feeling of the album is more collaborative, less fiddle break followed by mando break, guitar break, repeat. The band truly comes together on this release to form more of a blended sound, rather than a collection of individual solos. Collaborative, uplifting, energetic, haunting, beautiful, inspired: all words that anyone should feel comfortable with while describing the sound of Bearfoot.  This talented young group will play the main stage on Reservoir Hill on Saturday, June 5 at 2:30 p.m..

We at FolkWest are so excited to finally bring Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper to Pagosa Springs this year. Make no bones about it, this band is pure, traditional bluegrass. But the level of talent they bring to the genre is enough to make a believer out of anyone. Award-winning fiddler Michael Cleveland brings dynamic traditional bluegrass to the stage with his band, Flamekeeper, in a show that will leave the audience talking. A seven-time winner of the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Fiddle Performer of the Year award, Mike and his talented band present a program of tight vocal trios and duos, blistering instrumentals, and fiddle-and-banjo duets that echo the first-generation stars of bluegrass. The show is rounded out with Mike’s dry wit and the band’s sense of fun.

Considered one of the premier bluegrass fiddlers of his generation, Mike picked up a fiddle at age four, and his talent was recognized early. In 1993 he was chosen to be part of the Bluegrass Youth All Stars at the IBMA’s award show. Later that year Mike made his Grand Ole Opry debut as a guest of Alison Krauss. His list of guest appearances over the years is a who’s who of bluegrass legends including Bill Monroe, Jim and Jesse, Ralph Stanley, Mac Wiseman, Doc Watson, Larry Sparks, Doyle Lawson, and J.D. Crowe.

After high school Mike briefly toured with then-named Dale Ann Bradley and Coon Creek before joining Rhonda Vincent and The Rage in 2000. At the 2001 IBMA awards, Mike took his first Fiddle Performer of the Year award, and shared the title of Entertainer of the Year with Rhonda Vincent and the Rage. In 2002 Mike rejoined The Dale Ann Bradley Band. That year he won the Fiddle Performer of the Year award and again in 2004.

Mike’s first project as a Rounder recording artist, “Flame Keeper,” was released in February 2002 and was chosen the IBMA’s Instrumental Album of the Year. In 2004, Mike shared the Instrumental Album of the Year award with Tom Adams for Tom Adams and Michael Cleveland Live at the Ragged Edge, an album of fiddle and banjo duets. Since 2006 Mike has swept the Fiddle Performer of the Year award, and now has seven.

Today Mike is a sought-after guest and has performed recently with Vince Gill, Marty Stuart, The Mark Newton Band, J.D. Crowe and the New South, Melvin Goins and Windy Mountain and The Wildwood Valley Boys. He is also an active studio musician, and his credits include the 2005 Grammy-nominated “A Tribute to Jimmy Martin: The King of Bluegrass: and a 2003 Grammy winner, “Jimmy Sturr’s Let’s Polka ‘Round.” The reigning king of bluegrass fiddle and his band will perform at the Folk ‘N Bluegrass festival on Saturday, June 5 at 5:30 p.m.

Pagosa Folk ‘N Bluegrass is supported by a grant from the Colorado Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Colorado General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

 Festival tickets and additional information are available on the FolkWest website: or by calling (877) 472-4672.