By Crista Munro
Special to The PREVIEW
The 14th annual Pagosa Folk ‘N Bluegrass celebration is just a few weeks 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, Kate Lee and Forrest O’Connor Band, Dead Horses, Old Salt Union, Circus No. 9, Fireside Collective, FY5, Halden Wofford and the Hi*Beams, Bonnie and the Clydes, Sugar and the Mint, and this week’s featured band: Sam Reider and the Human Hands.
A jazz pianist turned roots musician, Brooklyn-based composer, pianist and singer Sam Reider is redefining American music on the accordion.
He’s traveled extensively overseas as a musical ambassador for the U.S. Department of State, been featured at Lincoln Center and on NPR, and performed alongside pop stars, jazz and folk musicians ranging from Jon Batiste and Stay Human, Bluegrass mandolin prodigy Sierra Hull to Venezuelan cuatro virtuoso Jorge Glem.
Reider’s debut record, “Too Hot To Sleep,” presents his unique compositional voice alongside an ensemble of top-drawer musical collaborators and compadres called The Human Hands: Alex Hargreaves on violin, Roy Williams on guitar, Eddie Barbash on saxophone, Dominick Leslie on mandolin and Dave Speranza on bass.
Reider grew up in San Francisco, the son of a musical theater composer and klezmer musician. He began performing at a young age and was interviewed on Marian McPartland’s “Piano Jazz” on NPR when he graduated high school. At Columbia University, he fell in love with American folk music. While writing his senior thesis comparing the songwriting of Woody Guthrie and Ira Gershwin, Reider began studying bluegrass and old-time music, transcribing the fiddle melodies for the accordion and learning to sing the songs.
This set him off on a journey that has taken him from back porches and dive bars to concert halls and major festivals in practically every state in the country. Representing the U.S. Department of State as a musical ambassador, Reider has traveled to China, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Turkey and Azerbaijan, carrying his accordion on his back everywhere he goes and collaborating at every opportunity with international artists.
Now he’s surrounded himself with a crew of some of the most in-demand young acoustic musicians on the scene in Brooklyn. The Human Hands have developed a cultish following and a reputation for mind-bending sets of high-energy, improvised music.
Sam Reider and the Human Hands made a huge impact on the FolkWest audience when they made their Reservoir Hill debut last September on the Four Corners Folk Festival stage. They’ll be headlining June 7 at Pagosa Folk ‘N Bluegrass with an 8:30 p.m. set, and then turning in one more main stage performance on June 8 at 5:30 p.m.
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.