By Crista Munro
Special to The PREVIEW
It’s official; the 14th annual Pagosa Folk ‘N Bluegrass celebration is less than two months away, 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 The Del McCoury Band, Sierra Hull, The Travelin’ McCourys, Sam Reider and the Human Hands, Kate Lee and Forrest O’Connor, Dead Horses, Old Salt Union, Fireside Collective, FY5, Bonnie and the Clydes, Sugar and the Mint and this week’s featured bands: Halden Wofford and the Hi*Beams, and Circus No. 9.
and the Hi*Beams
Halden Wofford and the Hi*Beams ride out from the cutting edge cowtown of Denver. Rootsy and real, neither revivalist nor retro, the Hi*Beams’ brand of country music is as boundless and electrifying as America itself. The band has been together for nearly 15 years with the same lineup, and with the release of their newest album, “Missing Link” (2017), they have much to celebrate and be celebrated for.
Equal parts Hank Williams and Johnny Depp, front man Halden Wofford pours forth a potent mix of rocked-up honky tonk, western swing, Dylanesque originals and spaghetti western epics. There is no creative limit to the songwriter, illustrator, author, storyteller and singer. But Halden has met his match in the Hi*Beams. Each outrageous tale he spins is met by the whine and wail of the steel guitar, the furious double-neck electric guitar and mandolin, and the relentless thump of the upright bass and drums.
From Red Rocks to rodeos, the Fillmore Auditorium to the back of a flatbed truck, “Prairie Home Companion” to performing arts centers, Halden Wofford and the Hi-Beams deliver an unforgettable and original night of American music.
Marquee Magazine says, “Halden Wofford and the Hi*Beams’ throwback and stylish take on the honky tonk genre is a breath of fresh air amidst other wannabe retro acts. With some of the choicest players on the Front Range and a professionalism that is bar none, the Hi*Beams landed themselves on the famed NPR show A Prairie Home Companion in recent years and Wofford’s distinct vocals continue to garner the band well-earned attention.”
Austin, Texas-based 3rd Coast Magazine threw down this glowing review: “On the strength of this one hour, I’d say that Halden Wofford and the Hi*Beams are in the running for Best Live Country Band in America.”
The band returns to Reservoir Hill with a 1 p.m. main stage set on June 8.
Circus No. 9
Circus No. 9 is East Tennessee’s own progressive bluegrass outfit, blurring the lines between bluegrass, jazz, jamgrass and more. Described as “John Hartford meets John Coltrane,” the group has appeared alongside artists including David Grisman, Bryan Sutton, Larry Keel and more. Comprised of musicians Matthew Davis, Thomas Cassell and Vince Ilagan, Circus No. 9 is one of the most exciting new bands on the acoustic music scene today.
“Circus No. 9 represents everything that’s good about the new generation of acoustic music. These guys already exhibit a maturity and musicianship that has me thinking we’re going to be hearing great stuff from them for a long time,” said Hot Rize guitarist Bryan Sutton.
Banjo extraordinaire Davis is the winner of both the National Banjo Championship and the Rockygrass Banjo Contest, and he achieved these musical chops by the age of 18. Davis has performed on the Grand Ole Opry, among other venues and shows around the country.
On the mandolin is Virginia native Cassell, now a Tennessee transplant. Cassell is the winner of the 2016 Rockygrass Mandolin contest, and has performed on stages beside artists including Darrell Scott, Bryan Sutton, Aofie O’Donovan, Mike Marshall, Julian Lage, Billy Strings and more.
Holding down the low end for the band is Knoxville’s Ilagan, also holding a bass performance degree from the University of Tennessee and years of studio and touring experience. Ilagan has performed with artists including Justin Townes Earle, Jeff Sipe, Scott Miller and many others.
Circus No. 9 has exploded onto the bluegrass scene, winning over audiences at the 2018 International Bluegrass Music Association conference in Raleigh, N.C., last September. They’ll be adding a few hundred Coloradans to the fan base when they make their FolkWest debut on the festival main stage at 3 p.m. on June 9.
Pagosa Folk ‘N Bluegrass is a family-friendly, all-ages event. 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