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Crowd favorites return to folk festival stages

Observant folks may start noticing the Four Corners Folk Festival posters popping up around town soon in anticipation of FolkWest’s 15th annual event.

The celebration, which will take place Sept. 3-5 on Reservoir Hill Park, features a spectacular musical lineup: Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder, Sam Bush Band, Crooked Still, Solas, Over the Rhine, Caravan of Thieves, John Jorgenson Quintet, Sarah Siskind, Sarah Jarosz, The Black Lillies, MilkDrive, Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen, Sweet Sunny South and this week’s featured bands, The Infamous Stringdusters and Anne and Pete Sibley.

 Three-time International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) award-winning band The Infamous Stringdusters return to Pagosa Springs for their fifth appearance at the Four Corners Folk Festival, where they have quickly become festival favorites thanks to their mix of high energy bluegrass, country and free form improvisations.

The band performs with such virtuosity and energy that they are equally as comfortable performing in a sit down performing arts center as they are in a standing room only rock club, and they relish this diversity in their performances. With a solid repertoire of original songs compiled from their three Sugar Hill albums, plus new songs and a constantly changing set list the band continues to pick up new fans each stop they make.

 The Infamous Stringdusters’ genesis can be traced back to 2002, when Andy Hall, Chris Pandolfi, and original guitarist Chris Eldridge met in Boston. They knew they had musical chemistry, but their lives were too out of synch to start a band until they all found themselves in Nashville in 2004. By then, Hall had been in the band of acclaimed bluegrass singer and songwriter Ronnie Bowman, where he met Jeremy Garrett and Jesse Cobb. Together, this newly formed alliance of superpickers searched for the right bass player, who wound up being Travis Book, a product of the Colorado jamgrass scene. The departure of Eldridge in 2007 led to the addition of Andy Falco, whose blues infused style perfectly complemented the Stringdusters sound. That same year the band released their debut album, “Fork in the Road,” through Sugar Hill Records.

 The band’s sophomore release (June 2008) through Sugar Hill Records, self-titled “The Infamous Stringdusters,” feels like an introduction of a sort. Whereas Fork in the Road was made during their first potent months together, this album displays the band’s evolution during two years of intense touring, meticulous woodshedding and brotherly jamming. It’s their first record with accomplished guitarist Andy Falco, whose stunning virtuosity has added a new facet to the band’s musical personality. It also features nine band originals supplemented by a few carefully chosen tunes from colleagues in the acoustic music community.

 The Infamous Stringdusters continue to tear up the road relentlessly, hitting some of the biggest festivals in acoustic music and jamming on major stages with heroes like David Grisman, Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas, Del McCoury and Jack Black. You’ll have several chances to catch the spirit and their newest songs at this year’s festival: Friday, Sept. 3, at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 4, at 5 p.m. and again on the Community Center Late Night Stage at 10:15 p.m..

 Another favorite returning festival act is husband and wife team Anne and Pete Sibley.

Originally from New England, the Sibleys have been at home in the Rocky Mountain West since 1999. Singing for as long as they can remember, Anne and Pete have come many miles from their classical music training to “the people’s music:” folk, bluegrass and traditional music. Using the guitar and clawhammer banjo to accompany their tight harmonies, the Sibleys tell stories about life and love as they see it, and it is this quality that rings true with audiences from coast to coast. Anne and Pete’s music highlights their connection with the landscape, community, family, and even the food they grow and eat. Their storytelling, combined with the intimate nature of their original songs, has drawn fans and encouraged the husband and wife duo to keep delivering. They aren’t afraid of making music that is personal, paring it down and staying true to their instincts.

 Less than a decade since they released their first album, the Sibleys’ music hit the national spotlight in 2009 with a blue ribbon finish in the “Great American Duet Sing Off” on National Public Radio’s A Prairie Home Companion. Last summer, the couple released their fourth and most critically-acclaimed CD, “Coming Home.” Prior releases are “Will You Walk With Me” (2005), “Winter on the Great Divide” (2007) and “Think of This River” (2004). The Sibleys will be showcased in their traditional timeslot with a beautiful opening set at 11 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 5.

 The Four Corners Folk Festival is supported with funding from Colorado Creative Industries, a state agency and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

 For complete schedule and lineup information, or to purchase tickets online, visit Tickets are also available by calling (877) 472-4672.