By Crista Munro
Special to The PREVIEW
The 22nd annual Four Corners Folk Festival is upon us, taking place here in Pagosa Springs on Reservoir Hill Park Sept. 1-3. Thousands of people from the Four Corners region and beyond will stream into the town to enjoy three days of live musical performances from internationally touring musicians.
This year’s lineup includes Los Lobos, Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn, Sarah Jarosz, The Lil’ Smokies, The East Pointers, John Fullbright, We Banjo 3, Session Americana, The Accidentals, Quiles and Cloud, The Drunken Hearts, Freddy and Francine, the FY5 Band and this week’s featured artists: Ghost of Paul Revere and The Wood Brothers.
Ghost of Paul Revere
Born on the banks of the Saco River, brothers in all but name, the Ghost of Paul Revere is Maine’s holler-folk band. A powerful, energetic, nontraditional American folk band that’s renowned for harmony fueled, heart-pounding performances full of songs with unique identities that remain undeniably the Ghost of Paul Revere.
Formed around childhood friends Max Davis, Sean McCarthy,and Griffin Sherry, joined by Matt Young on harmonica, the Ghost of Paul Revere played their first show together in 2011 at a tiny bar in Portland, Maine. Now, they play across the nation, bringing holler-folk into houses, bars and music halls.
They have shared the stage with the Avett Brothers, The Travelin’ McCourys, Brown Bird, Spirit Family Reunion, Darlingside, as well as members of Greensky Bluegrass, the Infamous Stringdusters and Old Crow Medicine Show.
Their critically- acclaimed, Billboard-charting full-length album “Believe,” as well as their two EPs, “North” and “Field Notes Vol. 1,” have continually been the top selling local albums in Maine and New Hampshire for more than four years.
The Ghost of Paul Revere won Best In Maine at the 2014 New England Music Awards, were an official showcase artist at Folk Alliance International 2015 and made their Newport Folk Festival debut in August 2015. They capped off 2015 with an electrifying headline performance on New Year’s eve at Portland’s State Theatre in front of 1,600 enraptured fans.
In 2016, amidst touring nationally, they returned to the studio to craft their second full-length album, which was released earlier this year.
Ghost of Paul Revere will play the festival main stage on Sept. 2 at 1 p.m.
The Wood Brothers
In a career chock-full of highlights, The Wood Brothers hold a special place in their hearts for their performances at Levon Helm’s legendary Midnight Ramble. As repeat special guests at Helm’s famed Woodstock barn, the trio — guitarist Oliver Wood, bassist Chris Wood and drummer Jano Rix — developed a cherished friendship with the late icon that transcended simple musical collaboration and left an indelible mark on their songs and their lives.
That shared history made it all the more emotional when The Wood Brothers returned to the barn on Aug. 19, 2016, for their first Ramble since Helm’s passing. Captured pristinely on their new album, “Live At The Barn,” the band’s sold-out performance that night spanned their career and showcased the kind of singularly eclectic and electrifying performance style that’s earned them devoted legions of fans around the world.
“We’re huge fans of Levon’s and count him as a big influence,” said Oliver, who named his son for Helm. “Since we actually got to know him, his influence was more than musical — it was personal. He was one of those unique and powerful personalities, and I’ll always remember how gracious he was. We also got to know his daughter Amy quite well and have had great tours and collaborations with her. She’s a beautiful soul just like her dad, and we have fond memories of playing with both of them in that barn.”
“Live At The Barn” follows 2015’s critically acclaimed “Paradise,” which the band recorded at Dan Auerbach’s Easy Eye studio in their adopted hometown of Nashville, Tenn.
Hailed by Rolling Stone for songwriting “that hits both the heart and head” and praised by American Songwriter for its “spry, soulful folk-rock,” the album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Heatseekers Chart and launched The Wood Brothers into the most successful year of their career, with performances everywhere from Bonnaroo to Red Rocks to Carnegie Hall.
NPR’s World Cafe raved that “there is so much warmth, soul and musicianship at a Wood Brothers show, it’s no surprise that the band’s audience keeps growing,” and “Live At The Barn” is no exception.
Over the course of the album’s nine tracks, the band careens from soul to folk to funk to blues to rock, mixing acoustic and electric instruments and effortlessly blending eras and regions of American music.
While the album documents their remarkably adventurous musicianship and tight interplay, it also manages to capture their extraordinary relationship with their fans, an essential ingredient in the magic of any Wood Brothers concert. On “I Got Loaded,” the exuberant audience joins in a rousing call and response, while the bluesy groove of “Tried And Tempted” elicits whoops and hollers from listeners overcome by the energy in the room. The Wood Brothers can effectively transform any venue into a revival tent with their exhilarating performances, but there’s something singular about playing in that barn.
“It’s so intimate and casual that it feels less like a concert and more like a living room jam,” said Oliver. “The spirit in there is strong, from the history and the intent that Levon had when he built the place to all the great music and musicians that have played there.”
With “Live At The Barn,” The Wood Brothers weave their own little moment into the rich and ever expanding history of Helm’s barn, while at the same time tipping their cap to the influences that came before them. It’s only fitting, then, that the record ends with The Band’s “Ophelia,” a mainstay of The Wood Brothers’ live show from a time well before any of them ever imagined performing, let alone recording an album, in such an historic space.
“We’re just proud and honored and humbled that this album was made in the barn,” said Oliver. “I’d like to think we’re part of the same lineage as The Band. We certainly draw from a lot of the same roots, and they’ve always been an inspiration. Their music reminds us to be ourselves.”
You can catch The Wood Brothers in their third folk festival appearance on Sept. 2 at 6 p.m. when they open for Los Lobos.
The Four Corners Folk Festival is produced by FolkWest, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and is funded in part with a grant from Colorado Creative Industries.
Information on schedules, artists and tickets can be found online at www.folkwest.com or by calling 731-5582.
There are still a few volunteer spots open for the upcoming event; volunteers earn three-day festival admission; if interested check the website for details.
Artist bios and interviews courtesy of Ghost of Paul Revere and The Wood Brothers.