By Crista Munro
Special to The PREVIEW
It’s springtime and that means FolkWest is gearing up for the 14th annual Pagosa Folk ‘N Bluegrass celebration, taking place June 7-9 right here on Reservoir Hill.
This year’s lineup features the top names in folk, bluegrass and Americana music, including the 2019 Best Bluegrass Album Grammy winner, The Travelin’ McCourys. Also on the lineup are The Del McCoury Band, Sierra Hull, Sam Reider and the Human Hands, Kate Lee and Forrest O’Connor, Dead Horses, Old Salt Union, Circus No. 9, FY5, Bonnie and the Clydes, Halden Wofford and the Hi*Beams and this week’s featured bands: Fireside Collective, and Sugar and the Mint.
Quickly blazing a name for themselves with their progressive approach to American folk music, Fireside Collective delights listeners with memorable melodies and contemporary songwriting. Formed in the mountain city of Asheville, N.C., the band plays original songs on stringed instruments, intended for a modern audience. Following the release of their debut album “Shadows and Dreams,” the band hit the road seeking to engage audiences with their energetic live show built on instrumental proficiency, colorful harmonies and innovative musical arrangements.
Band mandolinist and songwriter Jesse Iaquinto describes the music of Fireside Collective as “Bluegrass, newgrass, perhaps progressive folk … Depending on where you come from and your experience with folk music, you may think we’re very traditional, or on the other hand, consider us a progressive act. We appreciate both ends of the spectrum and may lie on a different end on any given night.”
While roots music is at the core of the Collective’s songs, a willingness to explore the boundaries and present relevant new material remains fundamental. The band burst onto the scene in early 2014 following the release of “Shadows and Dreams.” The album weaves bluegrass, funk, rock and blues influences into a refreshing representation of modern folk music. From the opening track “Poor Soul” with its energetic bluegrass overtones to the closer “Shine the Way Home,” the album takes listeners on a journey through simple love songs to complex themes such as metaphysics and coexistence.
Recorded in Asheville, “Shadows and Dreams” features guest musicians from Asheville’s rich acoustic music scene alongside members of the Fireside Collective. 2017 was a momentous year for the band with the release of their second studio album, “Life Between the Lines.” The album helped garner a nomination for an International Bluegrass Music Association momentum award for best band.
Fireside has been touring heavily to support the release of their latest album. The band is planning to release another album in the not-so-distant future. If you revel in the sounds of acoustic instrumentation, enjoy the excitement of energetic live performances and delight in the creation of original songs, then be sure to check out the Fireside Collective as they make their Reservoir Hill debut on June 7 at 5:45 p.m. and June 8 at 4 p.m. on the festival main stage.
Sugar and the Mint
Returning band Sugar and the Mint’s spirited take on folk and bluegrass excites audiences across the country. The band synthesizes genres into a sparkling repertoire of original songs, balancing first-time singalong hooks with robust musicality. Sugar and the Mint’s unique vocal approach features complex, ethereal harmonies supporting accessible melodies. Informed by everything from bluegrass to baroque to current pop and country, the traditional blend of guitar, violins, mandolin and bass instrumentation is anything but standard-fare acoustic music.
In 2017, the band took first place in the Telluride Bluegrass Festival Band Contest. The Arizona group has since toured coast to coast and recorded two albums: “Just Past Midnight” (2018) and “Grape Flavored” (2017). The original music on these records showcases the band’s energy, songwriting artistry, and fresh perspective on folk and bluegrass.
Sugar and the Mint has shared festival bills with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Emmylou Harris, Punch Brothers, Jerry Douglass, Tommy Emmanuel, the Sam Bush Band and many more. The band’s festival booking history includes a couple of well-received main stage performances at the 2018 Pagosa Folk ‘N Bluegrass festival.
They return this year with an 11 a.m. opening set on the main stage on June 9.
Early-bird tickets to the festival are on sale through April 12. Children 12 and under do not require a ticket for admission when accompanied by an adult. Volunteer applications are currently being accepted; volunteers who put in two four-hour shifts earn complimentary three-day festival admission. It’s a great way to meet people and have fun. Information about tickets, volunteering, festival schedules and performers can be found at www.folkwest.com/folknbluegrass. Tickets can be ordered by phone by calling (877) 472-4672.
Pagosa Folk ‘N Bluegrass is supported in part with matching funds from Colorado Creative Industries, a division of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade.
By Crista Munro