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, Sam Reider and the Human Hands, 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: The Travelin’ McCourys, who won the 2018 Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album.
The Travelin’ McCourys do not stand still. They are on the road — and online — entertaining audiences with live shows that include some of the best musicians and singers from all genres. It’s always different, always exciting and always great music.
No other band today has the same credentials for playing traditional and progressive music. As the sons of bluegrass legend Del McCoury, Ronnie McCoury on mandolin and Rob McCoury on banjo continue their father’s work — a lifelong dedication to the power of bluegrass music to bring joy into peoples’ lives. And with fiddler Jason Carter and bassist Alan Bartram, the ensemble is loved and respected by the bluegrass faithful. But the band is now combining their sound with others to make something fresh and rejuvenating.
They recently played with the Allman Brothers at Wanee Fest and then brought the house down at Warren Haynes’ Annual Christmas Jam, an invitation-only Southern Rock homecoming. Their jam with the Lee Boys was hailed by many as the highlight of the evening, and once word of the live video hit the streets, sent new fans online to watch a supercharged combination of sacred steel, rhythm and blues, and bluegrass. They’ve also performed with Warren Haynes, Phish and have a tour scheduled with the aforementioned Lee Boys. Ronnie McCoury described it as “peanut butter and jelly.” It was just right.
The Travelin’ McCourys can push forward so far because their roots are so deep. The band has a confidence that only comes with having paid their dues with 20 years on the bluegrass road. Other groups and new fans hear this immediately — the tight rhythm, the soulful material and the confidence in taking bluegrass from the safety of the shore into uncharted waters.
Ronnie McCoury said, “We like to go in and play traditional bluegrass music the way we do it with Dad, but we also like to be able to step into situations where we can really stretch out. If we need to plug in, we’ll plug in. We’re open to anything.”
It’s that attitude, backed up by talent, that marks great musicians — traditional or progressive. The Travelin’ McCourys are 21st century musical pilgrims and adventurers. They’re onto something new, just like Bill Monroe was in the 1940s, but now we can see and hear that adventure live.
The Travelin’ McCourys will close the festival on June 8 with a 7 p.m. headline set on the main stage.
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. There are still a few volunteer opportunities available; call 731-5582 for more information.
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.