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Jerry Douglas, Sara Watkins to perform at Four Corners Folk Festival

The 17th annual Four Corners Folk Festival is finally here!

By now, you’ve probably noticed all of the campers who were lined up across from the post office in anticipation of today’s opening of the festival campground. The music will officially kick off tomorrow, Aug. 31, on the main stage, and continue for three days and two nights on beautiful, pristine Reservoir Hill.  The festival will feature 22 live performances on two stages from some of the finest touring Americana, bluegrass, newgrass and folk musicians in the country. Featured on this year’s lineup are Railroad Earth, Sam Bush, The Wood Brothers, Darrell Scott, Loudon Wainwright III, Sarah Siskind, Elephant Revival, Caravan of Thieves, the Milk Carton Kids, Rose’s Pawn Shop, The Well Pennies, Anne and Pete Sibley, You Me and Apollo, Mike + Ruthy and this week’s featured artists, Jerry Douglas and Sara Watkins.

 If you don’t yet have your festival tickets it’s not too late, but you will want to purchase them as soon as possible to take advantage of advance price discounts. The easiest way to get them is online at www.folkwest.com or you can call toll-free at (877) 472-4672 (locally 731-5582).

 “Traveler,” the new album from world-renowned musician Jerry Douglas, was released June 26 on eOne Music. This is Douglas’ first solo release since 2009 and features special guest vocals from Eric Clapton, Marc Cohn, Keb’ Mo’, Alison Krauss and Union Station, Mumford and Sons and Paul Simon.

The 11-track album also features legendary musicians Sam Bush (harmony vocals and mandolin), Dr. John (piano), Béla Fleck (banjo), Omar Hakim (drums), Viktor Krauss (bass) and Del McCoury (harmony vocals), among others. In celebration of the release, Douglas recently performed the album track “On A Monday” on the Late Show with David Letterman.

Recorded in Nashville, New Orleans, New York and Banbury, U.K., “Traveler” was produced by Russ Titelman.

 Songs include versions of Paul Simon’s “The Boxer” and “American Tune,” as well as several original tunes from Douglas (“So Here We Are,” “Duke and Cookie,” “Gone to Fortingall” and “King Silkie”). Of special note is Douglas’ rendition of the Leadbelly classic “On A Monday,” which marks his lead vocal debut.

In Douglas’ own words, “This record is the culmination of a long career spent making friends and lending my sound to theirs. This time my friends have come onboard to lend their voices to me.” Internationally recognized as the world’s most renowned Dobro player, Douglas ranks among the top contemporary artists in American music.

 Douglas has garnered 13 Grammy Awards while holding the distinction of being named “Musician of the Year” by the Country Music Association (2002, 2005, 2007), the Academy of Country Music (11 times), and the Americana Music Association (2002, 2003), as well as numerous International Bluegrass Music Association awards. Douglas is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Americana Music Association, and was honored as the 2008 Artist In Residence at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, Tenn. In 2004, the National Endowment for The Arts honored Douglas with a National Heritage Fellowship, acknowledging his artistic excellence and contribution to the nation’s traditional arts, their highest such accolade.

 In addition to his ground-breaking work as a member of Alison Krauss and Union Station, The Country Gentlemen, J.D. Crowe and The New South, Boone Creek, Strength in Numbers, Elvis Costello’s Sugarcanes and others, Douglas has graced over 2,000 recordings by such distinguished artists as James Taylor, Paul Simon, Ray Charles, Lyle Lovett, Elvis Costello, Garth Brooks, Charlie Haden, Earl Scruggs, Phish, Emmylou Harris, Bill Frisell, The Chieftains and the 8 million-plus selling soundtrack to “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”

 Jerry Douglas returns to the Four Corners Folk Festival with a 5 p.m. performance on Sunday, Sept. 2, just prior to Sam Bush’s closing set

 Sara Watkins spent most of her younger years, nearly two decades, as singer and fiddle player for the Grammy Award–winning, bluegrass-folk hybrid Nickel Creek, a trio she’d started performing in when she was a mere 8 years old, alongside her guitarist brother Sean and mandolinist Chris Thile.

Now, she is stepping away from that marquee name, alone. Watkins may have felt trepidation, but, as old fans and new listeners can attest, the transition feels effortless, natural.

As the BBC puts it, “Watkins’ time in the spotlight is a triumph with her agile playing and the kind of voice that gives your goose bumps the shivers.”

 After two formative years on the road fronting her own band — making stops at such events as the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, the Newport Folk Festival and Glasgow’s Celtic Connection along the way — Watkins returned to Los Angeles to record her second Nonesuch disc. Produced by guitarist, songwriter and Simon Dawes cofounder Blake Mills, “Sun Midnight Sun” offers both sweetness and a certain swagger; it has an appealingly rough-hewn quality. Watkins built the tracks around a core trio consisting of herself, multi-instrumentalist Blake Mills and her brother, Sean, with whom she has been co-hosting the Watkins Family Hour for the last nine years at L.A.’s eclectic club Largo whenever the pair is in town.

 Sara Watkins returns to the Four Corners Folk Festival for her 10th appearance this year with a Main Stage performance on Saturday, Sept. 1, at 4:15 p.m.

 Complete festival information, including ticket pricing, Main Stage, Late Night, workshop and Kids’ Tent schedules, is available at www.folkwest.com. Children 12 and under receive free admission when accompanied by an adult and can enjoy a selection of free activities and entertainment in the Kids’ Tent throughout the weekend.

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