By Crista Munro
Special to The PREVIEW
The 12th annual Pagosa Folk ‘N Bluegrass festival takes place June 9-11 on Reservoir Hill in downtown Pagosa Springs.
If you’re looking for an inexpensive way to enjoy all three days of the festival, consider being a volunteer to earn free admission. It takes more than 300 friendly and dedicated volunteers to help run the event — from set up to clean up and everything in between. Volunteering at a FolkWest event is great fun and it’s a fantastic way to meet people from Pagosa Springs and beyond.
More info can be found at www.folkwest.com/pfb-volunteer.
This year brings another terrific musical lineup with Grammy-winning headliners The O’Connor Band (2017 — Best Bluegrass Album) and Loudon Wainwright III (2010 — Best Traditional Folk Album) and a highly talented array of supporting bands including Ten Strings and A Goat Skin, The Lil’ Smokies, Molly Tuttle, The Dustbowl Revival, Western Centuries, The Luke Bulla Trio, The Barefoot Movement, The Last Revel, Moors and McCumber, The Heartstring Hunters and this week’s featured bands: Phoebe Hunt and The Gatherers and The Stash! Band.
Phoebe Hunt and The Gatherers
An accomplished Americana instrumentalist with foundations in jazz and swing music (festivalgoers will remember her as the lead singer and fiddle player for The Belleville Outfit), Phoebe Hunt makes an impressive creative leap with her newest record, “Shanti’s Shadow.”
It’s the culmination of a five-year journey that has taken her from her Austin roots through Music Row, Brooklyn, and even to India to study with seventh-generation master violinist Kala Ramnath. Along the way, Hunt found her voice and delivered her most inspired set of songs to date — the soundtrack to her self-discovery.
“Shanti’s Shadow” marks an arrival for Hunt, whose artistic and personal journey has deep storylines. These masterfully crafted songs are brought to life by the musicians Hunt has gathered — each a virtuoso in their own right.
Hunt is skilled at taking seemingly disparate elements and pulling them together into a dazzling kaleidoscope of lush, coherent sound and rhythm patterns. The result is music that swells, crashes and breathes organically under Hunt’s soulful, plaintive voice. Sounds of Americana and Texas-tinged swing are woven with exotic rhythmic concepts culled from her time in India.
“Shanti’s Shadow” is always surprising, yet comfortingly familiar. Prior to recording this album, the entire band traveled to India to study at an ashram outside of Pune with Ramnath. In India, they practiced music, meditation and philosophy — sometimes spending as many as 10 hours a day working and reworking tats and ragas. This intense, experiential study is apparent in the seamless musical play and improvisation of “Shanti’s Shadow.”
Phoebe Hunt and The Gatherers will play the main stage at 11:30 a.m. on June 10.
The Stash! Band
The Stash! Band’s hybrid of bluegrass, punk and heavy metal is not for the faint of heart.
Led by one of Bluegrass’ great young genre-bending pioneers, Stash Wyslouch (Molskys Mountain Drifters, The Deadly Gentlemen), The Stash! Band features elements of bluegrass’ high-octane picking, the energy and riffs of Megadeth and Black Sabbath, and a quirky zaniness and virtuosity akin to Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention.
Forged in the fire of the Boston and New York City music scenes, The Stash! Band features Wyslouch on guitar, Sean Trischka on drums, Duncan Wickel on fiddle and Noam Wiesenberg on bass.
Their first album released under Wyslouch’s name, “Stash!” (September 2015), features 19 original songs with daring compositions, anthemic songwriting and a unique sound-defying genres and classification. The album delivers angular riffs, harmonies and melodies alongside the band’s affable and sometimes brash punk vocal stylings.
Bluegrass fusing with heavy metal and punk is a natural product of Wyslouch’s history. Growing up on death metal, headbanging and improvisation, Wyslouch’s conversion to folk and roots music at age 18 turned his path from the beer-stained mosh pits of heavy metal to the harmonies, dynamics and songwriting of summertime bluegrass festivals and country music.
“There’s a liberty in form, melodic content and lyrical content in heavy metal and punk music,” said Wyslouch. “With The Stash! Band, we combine that freedom with the textures and dynamic sensibilities of acoustic roots music; it’s a very exciting and unique sound.”
The Stash! Band will play the Pagosa Folk ‘N Bluegrass main stage at 4 p.m. on June 10. Headbanging is optional.
Pagosa Folk ‘N Bluegrass is supported in part with funding from Colorado Creative Industries. Tickets and information about the festival can be found online at www.folkwest.com or by calling (877) 472-4672.