Today is the day that the campground opens on Reservoir Hill to hundreds of folks who have traveled from as far away as Connecticut, and as close as Pagosa Springs — all who want to be a part of the magic that happens when you gather so many people in a beautiful place to make and listen to beautiful music.
This year marks the 21st annual Four Corners Folk Festival and what a journey it’s been. Since 1996, we’ve amassed a FolkWest family made up of volunteers, staff, musicians and, of course, our amazing audience. We’ve watched as a generation of kids has grown up and started families of their own. We’ve shared in the sorrow of the passing of countless friends and loved ones. Through it all, the one thing that’s remained constant is the music and its power to unite, heal and create joy.
This year’s amazing lineup brings back many familiar names and faces. There’s The Del McCoury Band, The Milk Carton Kids, Sara Watkins, Darrell Scott, The Black Lillies, John Fullbright and Rose’s Pawn Shop. These folks have all played the festival before, some of them many times.
Sara Watkins has appeared with Nickel Creek, I’m With Her and as the frontwoman of her own band. Darrell Scott first came to the festival as a member of Sam Bush’s band, then fronting his own band and most recently with Tim O’Brien. These artists have become a part of the rich festival tapestry.
And, as always, there are plenty of brand new (to the festival) acts on the bill from far and wide. Perhaps the most exciting first timer on this year’s lineup is the O’Connor Band, featuring Mark O’Connor. We don’t throw around the term “legendary” loosely and O’Connor has rightfully earned that moniker. His Grammy nominations and awards are too numerous to list and it would almost be easier to list musicians he hasn’t collaborated with over the years. The band, which includes Mark’s wife, Maggie, son Forrest and daughter-in-law Katie Lee (all amazing musicians in their own rights), released their debut record on Aug. 5 and it quickly jumped to No. 1 on the Billboard Bluegrass chart.
Sierra Hull currently claims the No. 10 bluegrass record on that same chart. A gifted mandolinist and songwriter, Hull performed at the Pagosa Folk ‘N Bluegrass festival a few years ago, but this marks her first appearance at the Labor Day event.
The East Pointers hail from Prince Edward Island, Canada. The youthful, high-energy trio of virtuosic musicians specializes in Canadian Trad, which includes Cape Breton style, Acadian and Celtic. They are helping to keep this historical style relevant and appealing to a whole new generation of festivalgoers who find it nearly impossible to sit still when the band kicks up the tempo.
Lindsay Lou and the Flatbellys, Trout Steak Revival and The Lonely Heartstring Band all won over hearts big-time at their Pagosa Folk ‘N Bluegrass appearances and we’ve been dying to get them in front of our larger audience. These young bands are making big names for themselves on the acoustic music scene and are sure to score more new fans this weekend.
Coral Creek is a new-ish project made up of some talented, seasoned musicians. With a sound akin to Little Feat or The Band, this group will get the rock ‘n roll vibe going on Friday afternoon during their first-ever Reservoir Hill set. And finally, Songs of the Fall, a band with strong ties to Pagosa Springs, will play this festival for the first time, after a strong show at the 2015 Pagosa Folk ‘N Bluegrass festival. The duo is made up of Pagosa native Stetson Adkisson and Cia Cherryholmes, former member of the bluegrass group Cherryholmes.
Live music will take place on two stages throughout this weekend, Sept. 2-4. In addition to the musical performances, the family-friendly event will also feature music workshops, arts and crafts vendors, a food court, beer and wine garden and lots of picking circles in the campgrounds.
Admission is free for children 12 and under (accompanied by an adult) and there will be plenty to do and see in the Four Corners Kids tent. Saturday and Sunday have free crafts from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., face painting, juggling shows by Andy the Juggler, balloon animal artistry by Ruby Balloon and “The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley,” performed by Pagosa Springs’ own Thingamajig Theater Company.
The festival is supported in part by sponsorships, generous donors and a matching grant from Colorado Creative Industries.
For additional information about this weekend’s Four Corners Folk Festival, visit the website at www.folkwest.com or call (877) 472-4672. A newly expanded, free festival app is available for download; search “FolkWest” in your app store.