By Crista Munro
Special to The PREVIEW
The 23rd annual Four Corners Folk Festival takes place on Reservoir Hill in Pagosa Springs Aug. 31-Sept. 2.
This year’s world-class musical lineup includes Nahko And Medicine For The People, Sam Bush, We Banjo 3, Amy Helm, The Accidentals, Sam Reider and the Human Hands, Front Country, Darling West, The Western Flyers, Bonnie and the Clydes, Courtney Hartman and Taylor Ashton, Tallgrass and this week’s featured performers: The Dawg Trio, the Jon Stickley Trio and the Jacob Jolliff Band.
The Dawg Trio
Everyone at FolkWest is thrilled that this is the year we will finally have the iconic David Grisman grace the festival stage for the very first time in our 23-year history. A pioneering, legendary artist synonymous with both modern bluegrass and the rich legacy of Bay Area acoustic music, mandolin master David Grisman will make his Four Corners Folk Festival debut with his new Dawg Trio featuring banjo virtuoso Danny Barnes and Samson Grisman on bass.
Originating a signature mix of bluegrass, gypsy jazz, Latin rhythms, klezmer music and myriad global influences into a holistic approach he calls “Dawg music,” David Grisman began his career during the explosive folk and blues revival of the 1960s, working in the Even Dozen Jug Band with future stars Maria Muldaur and John Sebastian before launching a career as a solo artist and a collaborator with artists including gypsy jazz legend Stephane Grappelli, Del McCoury, Red Allen, Bonnie Raitt, and Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia.
David Grisman’s iconic 1975 acoustic quintet album with Garcia, “Old and in the Way,” became one of the best-selling bluegrass albums of all time and, in the same year, he formed his most enduring ensemble, the hugely influential David Grisman Quartet, which is still active today.
Texas-born banjoist Barnes is a visionary musician equally informed by the bluegrass tradition and the punk rock of his youth. Founding member of the Austin string trio Bad Livers, Barnes has worked with artists including Bill Frisell and the Dave Matthews Band. He was the 2015 recipient of the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass.
Samson Grisman is a resident of Nashville and is an in-demand sideman for all kinds of projects. He was the 2012 International Bluegrass Music Association’s Instrumentalist of the Year and has played in many acoustic groups including Barefoot Bluegrass, The Deadly Gentlemen and the Luke Bulla Trio, to name a few.
The Dawg Trio will close the festival with a 7:30 p.m. set on Sept. 2.
Jon Stickley Trio
The Jon Stickley Trio is a genre-defying and cinematic instrumental ensemble whose deep grooves, innovative flatpicking and sultry-spacy violin moves the listener’s head, heart and feet.
“It’s not your father’s acoustic-guitar music — although Stickley’s pop showed him his first chords when he was 12 years old. Instead, Stickley’s Martin churns out a mixture of bluegrass, Chuck Berry, metal, prog, grunge, and assorted other genres — all thoroughly integrated into a personal style,” writes Guitar Player Magazine.
“[Jon] Stickley is a super-resourceful acoustic guitarist who uses the instrument in many surprising ways and whose timing is just flawless. Fiddler Lyndsay Pruett puts deep thought into her flowing solos, plus she adds little flourishes and sudden stops that elevate the music,” proclaims Nashville’s Music City Roots’ Craig Havighurst.
Rounding out the trio is the group’s new drummer, Hunter Deacon. Deacon is both classically trained and boasts heavy jazz influences. Hailing from the ever-hip Knoxville, Tenn., he studied with drummer Keith Brown and received a bachelor’s of music in studio music and jazz from the University of Tennessee. Deacon then went on to complete a six-month residency at a jazz club in Hangzhou, China, where he performed seven nights a week.
Of the personnel change, Stickley said, “We’re really excited to add Hunter’s vibe to the mix, his creativity and willingness to experiment were two things that drew us to him, and Lyndsay and I were quickly surprised and inspired by what he’ll bring to the table.”
Dave King (of The Bad Plus) joined forces with the Jon Stickley Trio to produce 2017’s “Maybe Believe” and 2015’s “Lost At Last” (which The New York Times called “both respectful and free”) in the band’s hometown of Asheville, N.C., at the esteemed Echo Mountain Recording Studio. The Trio slipped a self-produced five-track EP, “Triangular,” into the mix in December of 2016.
With inspiration ranging from Green Day to Duran Duran to Tony Rice to Nirvana, Grateful Dead, David Grisman and beyond, the Jon Stickley Trio is making waves with its unique sound. Along with releasing two full-length albums and one EP in the past few years, the Trio has zig-zagged the nation, playing over 120 dates in 2017 alone. They are road-tested and band-geek approved.
The Jon Stickley Trio will play the festival main stage on Aug. 31 at 6 p.m.
Jacob Jolliff Band
When he was 18, Jacob Jolliff was awarded a full scholarship to the Berklee College of Music in Boston. There he studied under the late mandolin great John McGann, who was a huge influence. Under McGann’s supervision, he spent many six-hour practice days working on a variety of styles from bluegrass to jazz to Celtic music. In 2008, during his sophomore year of college, he joined the New England-based roots music band Joy Kills Sorrow.
In 2014, after three records, hundreds of shows, and thousands of miles in a 15-passenger van, Joy Kills Sorrow went on an indefinite hiatus. Within a couple weeks of the band’s last show, the young mandolinist got a call from the progressive bluegrass jam group Yonder Mountain String Band. Jolliff went on his first tour with Yonder Mountain String Band in June of that year and became their official mandolin player in May 2015.
Jolliff started his own band in the fall of 2015. While instrumentation-wise it’s a traditional bluegrass ensemble, they call on a huge number of outside influences to create a unique take on roots music.
The group features Jolliff’s longtime partner in crime, Alex Hargreaves, on fiddle. The two of them have been playing together since middle school, both growing up in the Oregon bluegrass scene. For the guitar slot, Jolliff called one of his all-time favorite picking buddies, Stash Wyslouch. Wyslouch cut his teeth touring with The Deadly Gentleman, a contemporary of Joy Kills Sorrow in the Boston bluegrass scene.
Ironically, bassist Jeff Picker grew up right down the street from Hargreaves and Jolliff in Oregon, but they didn’t meet until they were all living in NYC — 10 years after leaving the northwest. He currently tours with Sarah Jarosz.
The Jacob Jolliff Band will play on Sept. 1 at 2:30 p.m.
The Four Corners Folk Festival is an extremely family-friendly event, with free admission for children 12 and under (when accompanied by an adult) and lots of free activities and entertainment at the Kids Tent offered throughout the festival. The festival takes place rain or shine, and a central feature is the 10,000-square-foot tent with general admission seating for 1,300 people, available on a first-come basis. The meadow and trees outside the tent provide ample room for tarps, blankets and low festival chairs.
Additional information about tickets, performers and schedules can be found online at www.folkwest.com. Tickets can also be purchased by phone at 731-5582.
The Four Corners Folk Festival is supported in part by a matching Colorado Creates grant from Colorado Creative Industries. Bio information was provided by David Grisman, The Jacob Jolliff Band and Jon Stickley Trio.