By Crista Munro
Special to The PREVIEW
The 13th annual Pagosa Folk ‘N Bluegrass festival will take place June 8-10 on Reservoir Hill in Pagosa Springs. The festival will draw hundreds of people from the Four Corners region and beyond to experience live music and workshops from 15 amazing musical groups.
This year’s lineup includes Australian guitar phenomenon Tommy Emmanuel; one of Nashville’s finest bluegrass fiddlers, Micheal Cleveland and Flamekeeper; The Way Down Wanderers; Rob Ickes and Trey Hensley; The Luke Bulla Trio; The Giving Tree Band; Bonnie and the Clydes; Coral Creek; Caitlyn Canty; The Good Time Travelers; The Arcadian Wild; Tallgrass; FY5; Thunder and Rain; and Sugar and the Mint.
Between now and the festival, we’ll feature each of the groups’ bios in a story here in The PREVIEW so you can learn a bit more about them. This week we’ll tell you a bit about The Giving Tree Band, Bonnie and the Clydes, and Coral Creek.
The Giving Tree Band
If music is the universal language, then musicians are agents of unity and inclusivity. On “Frequency of Love,” the coming fifth studio album of The Giving Tree Band, much of their imaginative American rock ‘n roll manifests from lucid dreams.
With all their instruments calibrated to sacred tunings inspired by ancient mythologies of healing and miracles, the Illinois group’s new-age outlaw sound opens the heart and invites the soul to dance. Loaded with tales of transcendent love and the adventures of warriors of the light, the positive vibrations sail out in all directions carrying the sweet message of harmony and optimism.
Formed in 2004 by enigmatic brothers E and Todd Fink, The Austin Chronicle explains the band’s sound as bringing to mind “Seventies American music with The Band and the Dead as obvious touchstones, plus the kind of country/almost-bluegrass of the Ozark Mountain Daredevils and the New Riders of the Purple Sage.”
In 2010, Nashville Metromix called The Giving Tree Band “the American answer to Mumford And Sons.”
In 2012, Relix Magazine wrote “the folksy bliss is the sound of a group playing as one” and featured the band as one of its monthly artists “On The Verge.” They’ve been the monthly “Player Spotlight” in Acoustic Guitar Magazine, while multiple nods have come from Paste Magazine, including a No. 9 ranking on a list of “13 Emerging Bands For 2013,” among other critical acclaim.
Over the past decade, The Giving Tree Band has had many unique opportunities to connect with all kinds of music lovers and grow a dedicated community of “Giving Tree-huggers.”
During their November 3, 2008, appearance on WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour, host Michael Johnathon introduced them to a wide listening and television audience as having “the spirit of Pete Seeger with the musical abilities of The Band.”
In 2010, their third studio album — “The Joke, The Threat And The Obvious” — climbed into the Top 40 of the Americana Airplay Chart and other roots radio reports. They quickly became a promising folk rock act to many in the country world who could appreciate the outlaw and crossover stylings of some influences like Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, The Byrds, Gram Parsons and Flying Burrito Brothers or The Eagles.
In February 2012, The Giving Tree Band shared their rendition of the Grateful Dead’s “Brown-Eyed Women,” which led to features on all the Dead’s official sites and social media pages praising as “beautifully executed on all counts.” The accompanying music video garnered millions of views and was screened at theaters nationwide during the Dead’s annual “Meetup At The Movies.” The song itself was featured on The Giving Tree Band’s critically-acclaimed fourth studio album, “Vacilador,” and ranked No. 1 on The Austin Chronicle’s “Best Songs Of 2012” list.
The band has also toured extensively over the past several years. The summer of 2012 included a tour of sold-out concert halls (including Bowery Ballroom in NYC) across eastern United States and Canada with singer/songwriter Joe Purdy. The Giving Tree Band opened each night and then served as Purdy’s backing band. In the summer of 2013, The Giving Tree Band supported Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros in the Midwest and again at ESMZ’s first Big Top Festival in Los Angeles.
The band has shared the stage with many other top acts, including The Avett Brothers, Trampled By Turtles, Railroad Earth and Leftover Salmon. Additionally, the band has performed at major music fests like SXSW, Wakarusa, Forecastle, Summer Camp, Philly Folk Fest and many others.
When off the road, the members of The Giving Tree Band all reside at “Crooked Creek” — their home and studio outside Chicago, Ill. There, they have meticulously honed their craft, devoting thousands of hours to practice, experimentation, and the development of a sound greater than the sum of its parts. The Brothers Fink (E, guitars and lead vocals, and Todd, banjos and lead vocals) are joined by longtime friend Norm Norman (mandolin, guitar, piano, organ and high harmonies) and the long-haired rhythm section of college roommates, Charlie Karls and “Z”, on bass and drums, respectively.
The Giving Tree Band is also known for extraordinary environmental stewardship and eco-friendly music production. They use a number of instruments that were handmade from naturally fallen trees and reclaimed woods. They have recorded with renewable energy and package all their CDs with 100 percent recycled materials. The band’s second full-length album, “Great Possessions,” was recorded with 100 percent solar energy at the Aldo Leopold Legacy Center in Baraboo, Wis. During the recording session, the band camped in a nearby state park and commuted more than 500 miles by bicycle. The Chicago Sun-Times has called Great Possessions the “greenest of albums.” National and international environmental media, such as The Sierra Club, The Discovery Channel and Mother Earth News, have also highlighted the band’s activism, with the latter referring to them as “the greenest band in the land.”
The Giving Tree Band will play the festival stage at 4 p.m. on June 9.
Bonnie and The Clydes
Bonnie and The Clydes’ unique brand of music has been turning heads all along Colorado’s Front Range music scene for the past seven years. Fronted by Bonnie Sims, an onstage powerhouse whose passion reaches out and grabs you every time she sings, and supported by some of Colorado’s tightest musicians, they dominate stages big and small.
Bonnie said she and The Clydes play “Rocky Mountain country soul,” their own original take on rockin’ roadhouse honky tonk, the blues, and heartfelt wailin’ shaped by the last four decades of country music.
Bonnie and The Clydes have played New West Fest, Copper Mountain Music Festival, Flatwater Folk Festival and countless honky tonks and clubs all over the American West. The band won “Best Country Band” from Denver’s Westword in 2013 and 2014.
Their fourth studio album, “Dear Somebody,” released in the autumn of 2016 earned a No. 1 People’s Choice award and was listed Country Album of the Year (2016) on Colorado Playlist.
Bonnie grew up in Texas and attended South Plains College in Levelland, 30 miles west of Lubbock, where she pursued a degree in commercial music and was awarded Best Female Vocalist two years running and Best Female Instrumentalist (mandolin) her second year.
It was there that she met Taylor Sims, who had been named Best Male Vocalist, and they began a love and partnership through music that has now blossomed into a 10-year marriage. In the years following, Bonnie and Taylor relocated to Colorado and the band began to take shape. Glenn Taylor, Jake Coffin and Caleb Roberts fill out the rest of The Clydes, each bringing decades of experience performing and recording.
Bonnie and The Clydes will take the main stage at 2:30 p.m. on June 9.
Coral Creek is an Americana/newgrass band featuring the original music of Chris Thompson and Bill McKay (formerly of Leftover Salmon and Derek Trucks Band), performing a vast repertoire of original songs and Americana classics by The Band, Neil Young, Grateful Dead, Peter Rowan, Bob Dylan and more.
They play high-energy shows that appeal to audiences across the bluegrass, country-rock, blues and jam band spectrum, performing genre-bending original music and unique renditions of traditional bluegrass tunes and Americana classics.
“The Road Ahead” (2010) and “Watch Me Fly” (2012) — both produced by Bill Nershi of the String Cheese Incident — launched Coral Creek into the heart of the Colorado music scene. Since forming in 2010, Coral Creek has performed on festival main stages, concert series and clubs across the U.S., Europe and the Caribbean.
With the addition of Bill McKay on keyboards/vocals, Coral Creek released a fresh new self-titled album produced by Tim Carbone of Railroad Earth. The album debuted at No. 3 on the Relix/Jambands.com Radio Chart and reached No. 18 on the Roots Music Report Americana-Country Album Chart.
In addition to their main stage set at 7 p.m. on June 8, Coral Creek will perform a cover set of all Grateful Dead on the festival’s late night stage at 11 p.m. the same day.
There are opportunities to volunteer for festival admission. For information about that, tickets, schedules and performers, please visit the website at www.folkwest.com or call 731-5582.
Bio information courtesy of The Giving Tree Band, Bonnie and the Clydes, and Coral Creek.