Rocky Mountain Folks Festival 2019 Honored the Folk Tradition of the Past, Present & Future

By: Riley Ann 

Planet Bluegrass just wrapped up their festival season with the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival, and they truly had something for nearly every flavor of folk. True to its tradition, the music at Folks Fest was by, for, and about the people. 

Ben Folds.

Ben Folds.

Headliners included household names from the past 30 years, such as Ani DiFranco, who’s songs feel just as relevant as when she was topping the charts in the late 90s and early 2000s. The Violent Femmes had the packed crowd dancing and hollering, and Ben Folds’ set felt like an intimate house concert on Saturday night. Josh Ritter’s band closed out the festival Sunday night with many families enjoying summer’s last hurrah before the start of the school year.

Hayley Heynderickx.

Hayley Heynderickx.

For the folks who want something old and something new, St. Paul & the Broken Bones, The War and Treaty, and Kira Small all fused throwback soul and R&B flavors into modern songwriting. The Oh Hellos shared the poppier side of folk, and Laura Cortese & The Dance Cards paired modern grooves and melodies with lush harmonies of the women’s voices and stringed instruments. Hayley Heynderickx demonstrated the songwriting tradition through the voice of a millennial with her quirky, dark tunes, and The East Pointers showcased their reinvention of traditional Celtic music by intertwining old time fiddle and tenor banjo with drum machines and synthesizers.

The folks who appreciate the early traditions could sing along in four-part harmony with Ysaÿe Barnwell’s spiritual set, which kicked off Sunday morning. The Canadian duo The Small Glories blended old time clawhammer banjo and traditional song forms with their own telling of historical events, many with modern-day connections.

Patty Larkin.

Patty Larkin.

While the phrase “folk music” generally connotes acoustic instruments, bands like Daniel Rodriguez (formerly of Elephant Revival), Gasoline Lollipops, and St. Paul & the Broken Bones featured ripping electric guitar solos. In contrast, Patty Larkin practically played a solo rock set on acoustic guitar (though she interspersed a few ballads and shook things up playing a violin bow on her electric guitar). The music was as musically diverse as the tastes of the listeners, providing a well-balanced palette of folk music. As Dylan once crooned, “Times, they are a changin’,” and Planet Bluegrass continues to curate folk festivals that honor the folk tradition of the past, present, and into the future.

Although their festival season is over, there’s still another chance to tap into the magic at Planet Bluegrass for the Autumnal Equinox on September 21st with Bonnie Paine & Friends. More information and tickets are available at the Wildflower Pavilion website here. Stay tuned for next year’s Rocky Mountain Folks Festival, as well as their Telluride Bluegrass Festival and Rockygrass Festival on the Planet Bluegrass website here.

-Riley

Find out more about Riley on her blog.

All photos provided to BolderBeat by the author. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.




Sin Fronteras: Folks Fest Raises Voices in Solidarity

By: Riley Ann

Music from across the globe took the stage at the 2018 Folks Fest, including acts from the Saharan Desert, Canada, and the tasty melting pot of American folk music. Despite the lyrics being sung in various languages, spanning English, French, Spanish, and Tamashek, one message rang clear: strength in togetherness.

Las Cafeteras.

Las Cafeteras.

The East L.A.-based band Las Cafeteras took the stage by storm on Friday with their Afro-Mexican dance party. Vibrant choreography and hip-shaking rhythms amplified their Spanish and English lyrics advocating for social justice. Band members shared the spotlight trading off lead vocals, and they gave shoutouts to various causes, including Black Lives Matter, indigenous people’s rights, and more. They also performed a new rendition of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land” by blending Spanish phrases, new melodies, and a mariachi groove into the familiar tune as a modern commentary. You can see their live performance on KEXP and read the lyrics on their website.

Representatives of the Latino Chamber of Commerce of Boulder County joined Las Cafeteras onstage to recognize their contributions as artists to social justice issues. The chamber invited Las Cafeteras to Colorado on the band’s previous tour and thanked the band for the work they do through music as well as educational programs throughout the country.

Later that night, Los Lobos, another East L.A. band lit up the stage with their unique blend of traditional Latin American styles with rock, Tex-Mex, country, zydeco, R&B, blues, and soul. The group made waves in music history by bringing Latin American folk music back to top charts in the late 80s, revitalizing Ritchie Valens’ take on the traditional tune “La Bamba,” along with several other hit songs. While Valens was an early trailblazer in the Chicano Rock movement, Los Lobos carried the torch and kept the movement steady via mainstream radio airplay decades later. With their popularity, multiple Grammy Awards, and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, they’ve made their mark not just within the Chicano Rock movement, but also with deep ties in the ever-colorful tapestry of American folk music.

Heather Mae.

Heather Mae.

Saturday morning opened with Heather Mae, the artist who won last year’s Folks Fest songwriter competition. She moved the crowd with musical confessions about mental illness, overcoming oppression, and body image evidenced in her song “I Am Enough.” As an advocate for body positivity, LGBTQIA rights, people of color, and more, she thanked the festival organizers for curating such a diverse lineup throughout the weekend, saying, “They are trying to elevate marginalized voices, and that includes women. Thank you.” She concluded her set by inviting a chorus of performers to join her on stage for her power anthem “Stand Up.”

When Darrell Scott took the stage Saturday afternoon, he performed a song that he said was written by his friend Marcus Hummon. The narrative showed the life of a Honduran girl named Rosanna who escaped the physical and sexual abuse of the underground sex trafficking industry, bore a daughter, was profiled and arrested by police, was deported by I.C.E. back to Honduras, and nearly died in the desert trying to reunite with her daughter. Her true story is documented here, and you can hear Hummon’s album version here. The song left the crowd frozen and teary-eyed for Rosanna, the representation of people targeted by strict immigration policies and facing not just unfair, but impossible playing fields.

Saturday evening closed with the Indigo Girls. Despite heavy rains concluding their set early, they shared many of their signature songs, including “It’s Alright,” which is one of many that uses music as a vehicle for social change. The Indigo Girls served as one of the first bands to not only be public advocates for the LGBTQIA community, but also to be publicly out. Beloved by the crowd, the duo was joined by the sea of smiling faces singing along in the rain.

Bonnie Paine.

Bonnie Paine.

Bonnie Paine opened Sunday with the help of the “Cottonwood Choir” and instrumentalists featuring many familiar faces from the Front Range, including other members of Elephant Revival. The ensemble inspired the crowd to sing along with spirituals originating from slaves’ field songs about overcoming oppression.

That evening, Tinariwen quickly became a crowd favorite. The band’s fascinating blend of African stylings with American blues idioms created a strikingly unique sound. Furthermore, the band’s formation in refugee camps and resilience despite the backdrop of warfare, strife, and revolution speaks through the music even if listeners don’t know Tamashek. Over several decades, band members have survived against the odds and continue writing songs fighting for human rights and equality. They’ve even been called “Music’s True Rebels” by NPR. You can read more about the band’s background here.

Tinariwen.

Tinariwen.

Once again, Planet Bluegrass curated a powerful festival, giving festivarians an opportunity to see household names, like Regina Spektor, the Indigo Girls, and Jeff Tweedy (of Wilco) alongside the acts you didn’t know you wanted to see. Stay tuned at the Planet Bluegrass website for their lineup of next year’s Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Rockygrass, and Folks Fest.

View the full photo gallery from this event here.

-Riley

Find out more about Riley on her blog.

All photos provided to BolderBeat by the artist. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Festival Of The Muses Set To Cultivate The Feminine Spirit Through Music, Workshops, & More

By: Mirna Tufekcic

It’s called the Festival of the Muses, but more than just a festival in the general sense of the word, it is an intentional gathering of like-minded people meant to cultivate the creative, feminine spirit through music, skilled workshops, meditation, and oh- soaking in hot springs.  

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The idea for such a gathering came to Mackenzie Page, the frontwoman of Gipsy Moon, a couple of years ago. Her and I sat down this summer to talk about her idea as it was coming to fruition.  

After spending a lot of time on the road with her bandmates, predominantly surrounded by men in the van and at music venues across the nation, Mackenzie would longingly meet the occasional female artist in passing, wishing she could keep that energetic field with her longer.  After awhile of witnessing the overtly masculinized music scene, Mackenzie felt how much she missed the feminine energy around her while being on the road. She realized the lack of female artists and the feminine spirit in the music scene. Eventually it became obvious to her that the feminine goddess is missing in many ways from our modern, Western way of life- and that it needed a reawakening. So, about a year and a half ago, she decided to bring the idea of the Festival of the Muses into reality. With the help of a very supportive, active, and visionary community, the event is set to take place this weekend at the Joyful Journey Hot Springs near Crestone, Colorado.  

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Spearheaded by three powerful women, Bonnie Paine and Bridget Law of Elephant Revival and Mackenzie herself, Festival of the Muses is welcoming men and women to shift away from patriarchy and a masculinized way of being in the world and experience what it feels like to approach an art form and skill through the feminine lens. The workshops at the festival are intended to awaken creativity within each person and empower the feminine nature of equality and non-competitive aspirations. The workshops range from bookbinding, painting, and tarot readings to meditation and making medicine through movement and herbs. Each is led by skilled men and women who have cultivated their craft over the years through a dedicated practice, and by honoring the divine feminine. The evenings at the fest will fill the air with music by various local artists, including the power trio of Mackenzie, Bonnie, and Bridget. The Joyful Journey Hot Springs spa will have open doors throughout the day to soak in the springs and, depending on your lodging and ticket purchase, even extended hours into the evening.

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I would wager a weekend of intentional and powerful immersion with the feminine is likely something most of us need, whether we want to accept it or not. So, if you’re one of those people who reads this and immediately dismisses it as hocus-pocus stuff, then you should definitely attend. And if you’re one of those alternative peeps looking for something less mainstream, less focused on external highs and intoxication and more focused on an intentional and purposeful gathering of beings, then go spend the weekend with these muses to fill your cup.  A happy journey and transformation to you all. It is surely going to be a fulfilling experience.

For more information on the festival, tickets, lodging, and everything you need to know before you attend, click here.  

-Mirna

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

A Night with Elephant Revival

By: DJ_WhetWilly

“When words fail... music speaks.” -ER

And oh, how the music speaks when it’s being played by Elephant Revival! At their most recent Ogden appearance, I was swept up and blown away by the magnificence of the band’s performance. From the opening song of the evening (“Will Carry On”), I was cast into a sea of tranquility. “I wanna be like a bird/Or just a feather” warbled Bonnie Paine (vocals, washboard, djembe, musical-saw, stomp-box) --and I was light, floating with the band. And, boy, is it a joy to be in their presence. The room was filled with Elephant Revival’s unique brand of Colorado joy and warmth. And, the washboard percussion! How it makes one want to shuffle and slide around to its beat.

Nederland's Elephant Revival.

Nederland's Elephant Revival.

The set continued and focus shifted to each band member as they took turns playing one of the group’s songs. Their sound is rich and diverse. Maybe this is because all five members contribute fully; everyone has a unique and meaningful voice to add:

Daniel Rodriguez (vocals, guitar, banjo, bass) singing “Season Song” led me to pastures of nostalgia, loss, and hope with the earnestness of the voice of someone who knows “all the love in a budding rose/how flowers come/and flowers go.”

Bridget Law (fiddle, vocals, octave violin) conjured many beautiful, swelling, and awe-inspiring melodies, which added to the tight dynamic intensity and harmonic depths of the songs. “Ancient Sea,” an instrumental Celtic-like fiddle tune, showcased the incredible musical talent of the whole group.

Bridget Law stringin'. Photo Credit:   Renee Ramge  .

Bridget Law stringin'. Photo Credit: Renee Ramge.

Dango Rose (upright bass, vocals, mandolin, claw-hammer banjo) held it down tight, and made me bump and thump to every movement in every song.

And Charlie Rose (banjo, pedal steel, guitar, horns, cello, double bass), newest to the group, got the audience hooting and hollering after each solo with his shoe-gaze banjo and atmospheric pedal steel. What a low-down, hoedown frenzy we all reached!

Bonnie Paine on the washboard.

Bonnie Paine on the washboard.

Perhaps this is where the magic sits with this group-- there seems to be an awareness, a want, to tie us all together, to enjoy the space of the room and the music together, to share the feeling. The themes of their lyrics speak to an ideal, a feeling of oneness: “once I was a big drop of water/I spread out and became part of many living in the land.” That’s enough to make anyone enjoy the over-crowded-sardine room at the Ogden and buzz for days thereafter.

With Elephant Revival, it’s not just about the music, it’s about the show, and oh my, what a show! They had people hanging from the rafters! With grace and strength, The Fractal Tribe dancers spun high above the audience, while everyone chanted along, “Oh oh oh, oh the grace of a woman!”

ER Live. Photo Credit:   Grateful Web

ER Live. Photo Credit: Grateful Web

What a night, what a night! Wish I could have made it to both of their shows that weekend, but I won't fret too long! Elephant Revival just announced they’re headlining Red Rocks in May. Can’t miss this one!

So yes, everyone, readers, listeners, concert-goers-- be sure to support this wonderful group. Help them continue what they do. Go to this website and look at their things. They have plenty of merchandise and music for sale. Support how you can. Their CDs are great, t-shirts too. Thank you.

Watch a live-performance Elephant Revival video from their “Gondola Sessions” series here:

-DJ_WhetWilly

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.


DJ_WhetWilly.

DJ_WhetWilly.

DJ_WhetWilly is a music listener and music player. Good music is like good soup, it should be shared and served warm.