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.




Lettuce and The Colorado Symphony Took The Mile High a Little Higher with Special Show

By: Will Baumgartner

I imagine it’s the same for anyone in the arts: collaboration always lifts you higher. The high one gets from creation, no matter how renewable and perpetually fresh it may be, eventually starts asking the artist, “What can you do with me that you haven’t done before?” And the artist looks at their art and says, “Good question! Not that I’m getting bored, but…”

Not to belabor the metaphor of a relationship between the creative and the created, but in a very real sense, artists are in a sort of marriage with their work- and to keep this marriage from going stale, they must continually look for new things to do, new experiences and situations which will help them achieve the ultimate goal of any good relationship: the elevation of the soul. One more metaphorical extension and I’ll leave it alone before I get into trouble: sometimes, maybe the best thing to do is bring in some other creative people in and see what happens…

Photo Credit:   Tom

Photo Credit: Tom

We’re talking about something beautiful and sacred here, and that’s exactly what the boys from the Colorado-born “Future Funk” unit known as Lettuce achieved Saturday at Denver’s Boettcher Concert Hall when they performed some of their best and most enduring work with the Colorado Symphony. Under the fiery baton work of the young, but already highly accomplished Australian conductor Christopher Dragon, from the selection of material to the inspired orchestration, to the performances of each and every human onstage, it was an ecstatic evening. It was also clearly an elevating experience for everyone involved: the band members, conductor, orchestra musicians, and audience were all beaming and glowing with smiles that just kept getting more beatific through the evening.

Part of that bliss probably had to do with this type of show being a first for the band: at one point, keyboardist/vocalist Nigel Hall said something like, “If you’d told me a year ago that I’d be playing piano with a symphony orchestra…” I missed the rest, as people around me started whooping and screaming. It was a first for me too, as in all my decades of concerts, I’ve never seen a rock band play with an orchestra. As such it was difficult to imagine beforehand what the experience would be like, though knowing how great Lettuce are live and being already familiar with our local treasure of an orchestra, I would have been surprised if it weren’t one of the high points of a lifetime of great shows I’ve been privileged to attend. And sure enough, the only way I was slightly surprised was that the evening exceeded my fondest hopes and expectations. From the opening Lettuce original “Mount Crushmore,” all the way through “The Force,” the last piece in the first set, the way these musicians combined classical precision with the spontaneous fire Lettuce excels in was outrageously wonderful. As layer upon layer of sonic beauty and power was added to the creation, it was an almost overwhelming experience, causing us in the audience to make almost as much noise of our own as we did at Lettuce’s incredible concerts at Red Rocks back in June.

Speaking of Nigel Hall, as great as he is on the keys, that man can really sing. It’s always one of my favorite parts of a Lettuce concert when he opens up that voice, but on Curtis Mayfield’s “Move On Up,” Hall really outdid himself. The song was a perfect choice for this setting, as the original’s string and horn parts were expanded to spectacular effect, driving an already uplifting song to stratospheric heights. This feat that was repeated in the second set’s cover of Tears For Fears classic “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” another brilliant selection for an evening of orchestral funk-rock. In the middle of “Move On Up” though, we got an extra treat as things got considerably quieter and Hall sang a deeply soulful, gospel-tinged interlude about love, belief, and… I don’t remember everything he sang about, but the extended moment definitely fed my soul. It also felt like possibly the most improvised segment in a program that, by necessity, had to have been pretty tightly arranged. Singing something that powerful and moving in a nearly a cappella setting while allowing oneself to at least partially make it up on the spot- that’s not an easy thing to do and Mr. Hall deserves our appreciation for sharing that gift with us.

Screengrab via YouTube user coloradojohnsons.

Screengrab via YouTube user coloradojohnsons.

Everyone onstage was in top form: drummer Adam Deitch, guitarist Adam Smirnoff, the always fun to watch bassist Eric “Jesus” Coomes, saxophonist Ryan Zoidis and trumpeter Eric Bloom all performed with joyous brilliance. Mr. Dragon led the orchestra with zest and panache, and the orchestra itself was unparalleled. Extra special credit must be given to Tom Hagerman, who has been getting notice as a film score composer outside of his 20 years of work as a member of Colorado’s legendary band DeVotchKa, for his masterful orchestrations. His talent proves that those who work behind the scenes are often as important and essential as the performers themselves. And what a lot of work must have gone into this production! We can only hope that everyone involved felt our love and gratitude throughout the concert and the multiple and richly deserved standing ovations. The Colorado Symphony have previously done collaborations with Elephant Revival, Warren Haynes, and others. But on behalf of myself and everyone who was there Saturday, here’s a humble request that they do it again with Lettuce!

Next up for the band is a three-night New Year’s run through Houston, Dallas, and Austin Texas. Their 2019 Vibe Up Tour begins in January, with support from Ghost-Note and Greyhounds. For all Lettuce tour dates and news, visit the band’s website here.

-Will

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. 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.

Winter Wondergrass 2018 Proved That Snow, Mountains, & Bluegrass Are The Perfect Festival Combo

By: Cy Fontenot

From frozen phalanges, to crashing on the floor like sardines, to uncontrollable laughter with some of the best friends you’ll ever make, Winter Wondergrass festival sure does attract a certain type of person, the ones who are willing to battle the cold and rally in the name of live music. If I learned anything at the fest, it’s that the combination of snow, mountains, and bluegrass create the best situational cocktail for bringing people together. As if the snowy mountains of Steamboat, Colorado didn’t do that already, add a little bluegrass and some Dale’s Pale Ale to the mix and there you have it: a wonderful freakin’ time.

Greensky Bluegrass.

Greensky Bluegrass.

The festival kicked off beautifully with Liver Down the River, who played just one note before and snow began! After being thoroughly pumped up by their funkadeligrass music, the crowd was serenaded by Trout Steak Revival who kept the music flowing into the evening, when Liver played yet another rockin’ set. The Wooks kept the energy alive for the Brad Parsons Band to wrap up the Wondergrass pre-party. As the night wound to a close, festies retreated to a set downtown by Colorado jamtronica up-and-comers Evanoff, who delivered a high energy dance party to cap the night off right.

John Stickley Trio.

John Stickley Trio.

Friday immediately started off with party vibes as we festival-goers made our way downtown for a delicious breakfast at Johnny B Good’s Diner, followed by smooth liquors at Steamboat Whiskey Company. After getting properly buzzed up, we made our way into the festival grounds where we were greeted by the Jon Stickley Trio, who had been joined on stage by some all-star special guests.

After a beautiful Steamboat sunset, Elephant Revival took the stage for an emotionally evocative set, playing whilst fireworks were shot from the ski hill above. For me, this remains one of the most perfect and beautiful moments of the weekend, and since the band are going on hiatus in just a few short months, it was even more special.

Grantful Dead Revue.

Grantful Dead Revue.

Just when it seemed the night couldn’t get more beautiful, Yonder Mountain took the stage, and so did the snow! After their heartfelt set, I made my way to the the gondolas and took a ride up to the top with some beautiful humans to catch the Grantful Dead Revue, where Tyler Grant had more than a few things to say with his fretboard. I think everyone agreed there was no better way to finish off the night than gettin’ down to some Dead tunes.

Fruition.

Fruition.

Saturday began with the infamous Bacon Jam, which took place in an absolutely gorgeous house on top of a mountain. Upon arrival guests were greeted by snowballs drunkenly lobbed from a hot tub. After entering the house I found great vibes, unlimited bacon, and WonderGrass all-stars pickin’ up a storm! After the Bacon Jam and a much needed nap, I made my way to the festival to see The Lil Smokies kick the afternoon into high gear. The Smokies were followed by Fruition, who had a perfect sunset set that sent the crowds partying into the night.

Next to the stage was the amazing Greensky Bluegrass, who played one of the most captivating sets of the weekend. As they plucked their last notes, I headed over to the Grand Ballroom, where Leftover Salmon, who were warming up for their killer Sunday night set. Paul Hoffman joined in midway through the set and the night went on ‘til morning.

Billy Strings.

Billy Strings.

Quick-trigger new kid on the block Billy Strings kicked off the mainstage Sunday afternoon with something to say. With outstanding vocals and masterfully edgy guitar skills, Billy brought the energy the crowd needed to power through the last day of this incredible festival.

As day turned to night, the people of Wondergrass reached a new level of love, intoxication, and anticipation as Leftover Salmon geared up to close out the fest. I have to give it to Leftover Salmon- out of all the amazing music I had the pleasure of experiencing this weekend, their capstone performance takes the cake as my most enjoyed set of Winter Wondergrass.

Leftover Salmon.

Leftover Salmon.

WWG was sold-out this year, proving people seem to really love Bluegrass in the winter. If you’re ready for round two, get your tickets to Winter WonderGrass in Squaw Valley, CA happening April 6th-8th here!

Check out our festival gallery from this event here!

-Cy

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

Every 2018 Red Rocks Show Announced So Far

If you've ever been to Red Rocks, you know there's nothing like it. From the natural beauty of the amphitheater, to the friendly crowd vibes, to the dancing security guards, a Red Rocks show is like its own mini-festival atmosphere. We spend a good part of our spring and summer at the Rocks, and below you'll see why. We've compiled every Red Rocks 2018 show announced so far this year, and we'll update this post every Friday. Start planning your season now and keep checking back for more new shows- 2018 is gonna be a good one. See you on the Rocks!

January

January 12- Red Rocks Local Set with Dynamic Distractions, Venture Still

January 26- Winter On the Rocks with Rick Ross, Jauz, Brother Ali

February

February 16- Red Rocks Local Set with Sugar Ridge Band

March

March 10- Red Rocks Local Set with Many Mountains, Miguel Dakota and The Differents

April

April 18- Camila Cabello

April 19- 311, Method Man, Redman, Collie Buddz, PROF, Long Beach Dub Allstars, Chali 2na

April 20- Flosstradamus, Kayzo, Famous Dex, Melvv, DUCKY

April 21- Opiuo, Sunsquabi

April 25- Kygo, Alan Walker

April 27- Vulfpeck, Kamasi Washington, KNOWER

May

May 2- Post Malone, 21 Savage, SOB x RBE

May 3- X Ambassadors, Misterwives, Allan Rayman

May 4- Twiddle and Stick Figure with The Hip Abduction

May 5- Phil Lesh & The Terrapin Family Band with Leftover Salmon

May 6- Primus, Mastodon, All The Witches

May 10- The Purple Xperience

May 11- Tchami, Malaa

May 12- Global Dub Festival with Ganja White Night, Zomboy, Boogie T. b2b SQUNTO, EPTIC, AFK, Spock

May 13- Modest Mouse

May 14- Khalid

May 19- Above & Beyond

May 20- Elephant Revival with Blind Pilot

May 21- Phantogram, Tycho, Poolside

May 22- The Decemberists, Whitney

May 24- Louis the Child, Big Wild, Quinn XCII, Phantoms

May 25- Devil Makes Three with The Wood Brothers, Murder By Death

May 26- Emancipator Ensemble with Manic Focus, Wax Tailor, Kalya Scintilla & Eve Olution, Tor

May 27- The Disco Biscuits, Spafford, Organ Freeman

May 28- HAIM, Maggie Rogers, Lizzo

May 29- Five Finger Death Punch, Of Mice and Men

May 30- Vance Joy

May 31- Colorado Symphony: Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2, Brett Mitchell, Natasha Paremski

June

June 1- Michael Franti & Spearhead, Xavier Rudd, Victoria Canal

June 2- The Motet, Boombox, The New Mastersounds

June 3- Marshmello

June 5- Ween

June 6- Ween

June 7- Brit Floyd

June 8- Lettuce, The Floozies, The Funk Hunters, Jaw Gems

June 9- Big Head Todd and the Monsters

June 10- John Butler Trio, Tash Sultana, Mama Kin Spender

June 12- Bryan Adams

June 13- Turnpike Troubadours with Randy Rogers Band, Old 97’s, Charley Crockett

June 14- Ryan Adams, First Aid Kit

June 15- Odesza -SOLD OUT-

June 16- Odesza -SOLD OUT-

June 17- Dispatch, Nahko and Medicine for the People, Raye Zaragoza

June 19- Barenaked Ladies, Better Than Ezra, KT Tunstall

June 20- Kaleo, Anderson East

June 22- Widespread Panic

June 23- Widespread Panic

June 24- Widespread Panic

June 27- Dirty Heads, Iration, The Movement, Pacific Dub

June 27- Third Day

June 28- Funk on the Rocks with Chromeo, The Glitch Mob, Elohim, KITTENS

June 29- Avett Brothers with David Crosby & Friends -SOLD OUT-

June 30- Avett Brothers with Mandolin Orange -SOLD OUT-

July

July 1- Avett Brothers with Special Guest

July 2- Zeds Dead, Ekali

July 3- Zeds Dead, Ekali

July 4- Blues Traveler, G. Love & Special Sauce, The Wailers

July 5- Umphrey’s McGee, Lotus

July 6- Umphrey’s McGee

July 7- Umphrey’s McGee

July 8- Dark Star Orchestra with Keller Williams

July 10- Ray LaMontagne, Neko Case

July 12- moe.

July 13- GRiZ (live band)

July 14- GRiZ

July 15- Seal with the Colorado Symphony, Corinne Bailey Rae

July 16- Imagine Dragons, Grace VanderWaal

July 17- Jackson Browne

July 18- Sylvan Esso

July 19- Trampled By Turtles, The Oh Hellos, Dead Horses

July 20- The String Cheese Incident with JJ Grey and Mofro

July 21- The String Cheese Incident with The Main Squeeze

July 22- The String Cheese Incident with Rising Appalachia

July 24- Paramore

July 25- Killer Queen

July 26- Sarah McLachlin with The Colorado Symphony

July 27- Beats Antique, CloZee, Polish Ambassador, The Diplomatic Scandal

July 28- Tedeschi Trucks Band with Drive-By Truckers, Marcus King Band

July 29- Tedeschi Trucks Band, Drive-By Truckers, Marcus King Band

July 30- Halsey

July 31- Nas, Black Star, Push T, Brother Ali, The Reminders

August

August 2- HARD Red Rocks with DJ Snake, Virtual Self, Mija, GG Magree, Hekler

August 3- Lucero, Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls

August 4- Yonder Mountain String Band, The Infamous Stringdusters

August 5- Joe Bonamassa

August 6- Steve Martin, Martin Short, The Steep Canyon Rangers, Jeff Babko

August 8- Portugal. the Man, Thee Oh Sees

August 9- Leon Bridges

August 10- Pretty Lights

August 11- Pretty Lights

August 12- Brandi Carlile with Shovels & Rope

August 14- LSD TOUR: Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle, Dwight Yoakam

August 15- Father John Misty, TV On the Radio

August 16- Joe Russo’s Almost Dead

August 17- Old Crow Medicine Show, I’m With Her, Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz, Aiofe O’Donovan

August 18- Railroad Earth, Fruition

August 19- THE CULT, Stone Temple Pilots, Bush

August 20- Niall Horan, Maren Morris

August 22- Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Tank and the Bangas -SOLD OUT-

August 23- Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Slim Cessna’s Auto Club

August 24- 1964 The Tribute

August 27- David Byrne -SOLD OUT-

August 28- David Byrne -SOLD OUT-

August 29- Illenium -ALMOST SOLD OUT-

August 30- Shakey Graves, Jose Gonzalez & The Brite Lites, Twin Peaks

August 31- Atmosphere

September

September 1- Gramatik

September 2- Jason Mraz, Brett Dennen

September 3- Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit with Aimee Mann and Amanda Shires

September 4- Lyle Lovett and His Large Band, Margo Price

September 5- Gary Clark Jr.

September 6- Lake Street Dive, Josh Ritter

September 7- STS9, What So Not, DJ Z-Trip

September 8- STS9, TAUK, Cut Chemist

September 9- O.A.R., Matt Nathanson

September 10- Mac DeMarco

September 11-  Rascal Flatts, Trent Harmon

September 12- NEEDTOBREATHE, JOHNNYSWIM, Forest Blakk

September 13- The Revivalists, Houndmouth, J. Roddy Walston and The Business

September 14- Gov’t Mule, Dark Side of the Mule, Warren Haynes Acoustic

September 16- NGHTMRE with Slander and JOYRYDE

September 17- Punch Brothers, Gillian Welch

September 18- Nine Inch Nails, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Tobacco

September 19- Nine Inch Nails, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Tobacco

September 20- Little Big Town

September 21- Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Galactic, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, New Breed Brass Band, Cyril Neville, Walter Wolfman Washington, Kermit Ruffins

September 22- Greenky Bluegrass with California Honeydrops

September 23- Greenky Bluegrass with Turkuaz

September 24- Beck, Jenny Lewis

September 25- Beck, Jenny Lewis

September 26- Ms. Lauryn Hill

September 27- Get The Led Out

September 28- Big Gigantic

September 29- Big Gigantic

September 29- 3LAU, Louis Futon, Party Pupils

September 30- Gregory Alan Isakov, Patty Griffin

October

October 1- Ben Howard

October 5- Snails

October 9- The National, Sharon Van Etten

October 11- Seven Lions

October 13- Rezz

October 20- Excision, SKisM b2b Trampa, Barely Alive b2b PhaseOne b2b Virtual Roit, Dion Timmer, Subtronics, Wooli

October 22- A Perfect Circle

October 28- ZHU

*All available tickets here.

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. 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.

Rocky Mountain Folks Festival Resounded With Resistance Of Current Political Happenings

By: Riley Ann

Woody Guthrie would have rolled in his grave this weekend, not in disdain, but in delight had he heard the music at this year’s Rocky Mountain Folks Festival in the hills of Lyons, Colorado. In the spirit of Woody, along with Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, and so many others, the music of Folks Fest was charged with political messages, the call for solidarity, and the stand for social justice.

The crowd at Ramy Essam's set.

The crowd at Ramy Essam's set.

The festival opened with the Songwriter Showcase, and Heather Mae stole the show with two of her original songs truly about the times, one she introduced as, “my kind of love,” and for the other, she addressed the significance of what happened in Charlottesville. After winning, she shared on her music Facebook page, “I performed ‘Wanderer,’ my song about being queer. I performed ‘Stand Up,’ my song about fighting discrimination. I asked the audience to stand with me and join the cause.” And stand they did. She had the festival grounds filled with people standing and singing along, many with tear-filled eyes. You can watch her chilling music video for “Stand Up” here.

Heather Mae.

Heather Mae.

Heather Mae offered more insights into her performance, saying, “With everything that’s going on right now, what a waste it would be if I didn’t say something and use this opportunity to show that we can’t stay silent anymore. I chose my songs that weren’t necessarily the best for competition, but they were perfect for this platform. The mission I’m on right now is to make music that matters and that makes people think, and I feel like it was really heard, and that’s the most validation I’ve ever felt. It’s like the universe is saying, ‘Good job, kid, keep writing the music you’re writing’ and I feel a lot of gratitude for that.” With her winning performance, Heather Mae earned a one-hour slot on the main stage at next year’s Folks Festival. In the meantime, you can keep an eye on her tour schedule via her website.

Rhiannon Giddens.

Rhiannon Giddens.

Later that evening, Rhiannon Giddens lit the stage on fire with her performance, ignited with the stories of despair, fury, and hope in her latest album Freedom Highway. She opened with a rock version of “Spanish Mary,” a tune she co-wrote with Bob Dylan that’s dripping in satire about imperialism in the name of the Catholic Church. She left the audience on the verge of tears with “At the Purchaser’s Option,” a song she wrote after finding a 19th-century ad about a 22-year-old slave woman’s baby for sale. She left listeners breathless with her tune “We Could Fly,” a song based on the African-American folktale about the people stolen from their homelands as slaves who lost their wings. Rhiannon is a force of nature onstage, and her music has earned its rankings as modern classics, songs that will be forever immortalized in the canon of folk music. You can hear more of her first-hand insights in her NPR interview here.

Ramy Essam.

Ramy Essam.

In the tradition of Sunday morning spiritual sets at Planet Bluegrass festivals, Ramy Essam, the unassuming singer/songwriter who became the voice of the Egyptian Revolution, opened the day with a riveting set. Though he sang mostly in his native Egyptian-Arabic dialect, he introduced his songs in English. The subject matter spanned from honoring the strength of women and girls who fought in the revolution, many of whom were jailed and tortured, to making fun of the police, an agency Ramy described as being corrupt and dangerous in Egypt, and many of his songs challenged tyrant leaders and their wrongdoings. Despite singing in a language very few attendees knew, people began joining his refrains by the end of almost every song. The crowd also sang along with his cover of John Lennon’s “I Don’t Want To Be A Soldier.” At one point, Ramy proclaimed to the audience, “Music is the most powerful peaceful weapon we have.” His set concluded with a chant-like refrain begging for peace “for just one day.” Instinctively, the audience sang along, linking arms as they stood together in unity.

Dave Rawlings.

Dave Rawlings.

While the main stage was filled with outstanding performances, spanning the high-energy acts like The Revivalists and Lake Street Dive, the introspective meditations of Elephant Revival and Gregory Alan Isakov, the down-home tunes of Dave Rawlings Machine, and everything in between, the through line of the festival resonated with resistance. Nearly every performer mentioned the need for solidarity, peace, acceptance, resistance, attention to social justice issues, or, in the lighthearted case of Korby Lenker, putting politics aside momentarily with family in “Let’s Just Have Supper.” In the spirit of the folk music tradition, this year’s Folks Festival was truly of and for the people.

Gregory Alan Isakov.

Gregory Alan Isakov.

You can stay tuned for next year’s Folks Festival lineup at the Planet Bluegrass website here. If it is anything like this year’s lineup, it’s one you won’t want to miss.

View our full photo gallery from Folks Fest 2017 here

-Riley

Find out more about Riley on her blog.

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

Recapping RockyGrass: The Changing Face of Bluegrass

By: Riley Ann

Festivarians flocked to the 45th annual RockyGrass Festival this past weekend at Planet Bluegrass, and it celebrated the evolution of bluegrass in all of its facets. In the era of the folk renaissance in America, the first RockyGrass was held in 1973 and featured first-generation bluegrassers like Bill Monroe (the “father of bluegrass”) and Lester Flatt in addition to acts like Country Gazette that were part of the budding newgrass movement. A lot has changed since 1973, when 3-day tickets were only $12 and Bill Monroe himself was involved in starting the first RockyGrass (more about the history here). And yet, in the spirit of blending first-generation traditional bluegrass alongside newgrass of the time, this year’s RockyGrass held true to their own tradition.

Sam Bush.

Sam Bush.

What is notable at this year’s festival was the striking number of young faces on stage. In fact, eldest of all the instrument contest winners is only 21 years old. And yet Sam Bush was only 21 when he took the stage with The Bluegrass Alliance for the very first RockyGrass in 1973, which is evidence of young blood continually being drawn into the scene and sustaining the tradition through the decades.

Odessa Settles.

Odessa Settles.

What is notably different about more recent Rockygrasses, especially this year’s, is the growing representation of women on stage. Friday’s lineup included Colorado native Bevin Foley of Trout Steak Revival, Laurie Lewis with her band including renowned fiddler Tatiana Hargreaves along with special guest and Colorado native Courtney Hartman of Della Mae. Saturday featured powerhouse band leaders Melody Walker (winner the 2016 International Bluegrass Music Association’s Vocalist Momentum Award) with her band Front Country (nominated by IBMA as 2017’s Emerging Artist of the Year award) and followed by Becky Buller (nominated by IBMA at 2017’s Fiddler of the Year and by The Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America as 2017’s Songwriter of the Year award) as well as Odessa Settles performing with Jerry Douglas and Edgar Meyer. Sunday featured clawhammer banjoist Allison de Groot alongside Bruce Molsky in the Molsky Mountain Drifters as well as the all-female band and 2016 nominee for the IBMA Emerging Artist award Sister Sadie. Aside from the main stage, Denver-based Ginny Mules left the crowd roaring in a standing ovation during the band contest at the Wildflower Pavilion, and they won third place in the finals.

Tatiana Hargreaves with Laurie Lewis.

Tatiana Hargreaves with Laurie Lewis.

Although female representation is far from being equal, the bluegrass scene has come a long way despite its sexist reputation, like Alison Kraus being angrily told, “Girls can’t play bluegrass,” as she disclosed in the documentary High Lonesome: The Story of Bluegrass Music, one among countless other similar anecdotes of female bluegrass musicians in the book Pretty Good for a Girl.

Del McCoury.

Del McCoury.

While so many new faces are entering the scene, some have become iconic staples, and the return of Del McCoury, Sam Bush, and Peter Rowan along with newgrass favorites like The Infamous Stringdusters rounded out the festival to mix in the old with the new, giving something in the realm of bluegrass for everyone to enjoy.

The Infamous Stringdusters.

The Infamous Stringdusters.

Although this year’s RockyGrass has passed, you can still get your festival on for Folks Fest, which is happening in just a couple weeks from August 18th-20th. This year’s lineup includes Gregory Alan Isakov, Lake Street Dive, The Revivalists, Rhiannon Giddens (of the Carolina Chocolate Drops), The Wailin’ Jennys, Josh Ritter, Elephant Revival, Dave Rawlings Machine, and more. You can still get single-day and three-day tickets here.

View our full photo gallery from RockyGrass 2017 here.

-Riley

Find out more about Riley on her blog.

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

Premiere: Wolf Van Elfmand's New Music Video "Rose"

By: Hannah Oreskovich 

In April, we premiered Wolf van Elfmand ’s music video for “The New Folk” from his upcoming record, Real Wolf. The EP, which was co-produced with Dango Rose of Elephant Revival, drops this Saturday, June 10th with a release party at Denver’s Fort Greene Bar. Today, we bring you yet another Wolf video premiere, this time for his more solemn tune, “Rose.”   

“Rose” was filmed in Old Town Fort Collins by Ghostrunner Films, and was directed by Jesse Nyander. Elfmand’s cascading vocals and soft guitar build the basis for this emotional tune. Dango Rose is featured on bass on the track, with Enion Pelta Tiller (Taarka) on violin.

Said Wolf about the video, “I wrote ‘Rose’ in that feeling when you try to convince yourself you're able to move on, leaving behind something comfortable yet corrosive for greener pastures."  

Make sure to watch Wolf’s newest video and get details on his release party for Real Wolf here.

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

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

Jump Into Summer With Our 'Pickin' On CO Summers' Spotify Playlist

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Just in time for summer and the many folk & bluegrass festivals that come with it in Colorado thanks to Planet Bluegrass, here’s our ‘Pickin’ On Colorado Summers’ Spotify Playlist:

Tastemaker Sierra Voss has put some serious tuneage together for your summer soundtrack. Trout Steak Revival classically opens our pickin’ playlist, with tracks by Caribou Mountain Collective, Fruition, The Haunted Windchimes, Elephant Revival, Punch Brothers, The Infamous Stringdusters, Blitzen Trapper, Railroad Earth, Sarah Jarosz, and others. Several of these artists play the upcoming 2017 Telluride Bluegrass Festival.

Make sure to follow us on Spotify to check out our many playlists, and if you’re an artist looking to submit your song for playlist consideration, roll to our Contact page and do it!

Happy Summer.

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

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

Colorado's Recording and Wilderness Retreat Spot: Mountain Star Studio

By: Sierra Voss

Tucked away in Gilpin County, CO down a long dirt path lies Mountain Star Studio. Its studio barn and main home sit on 120 acres of lands that looks out onto the continental divide. The compound includes a multi-purpose recording studio and performance space, and offers artist lodging.

The property was originally built to serve as a house and horse barn for Mr. Kip Lagorin. It wasn't until four years ago when Kip’s friend Chris came around and suggested they turn it into a recording studio that this magic came to be. Both Chris and Kip have a deep respect and love for music, and more specifically the music scene in Colorado. And so, after the two came together, the property slowly morphed into the artist retreat that it is today.

Keys on Keys.

Keys on Keys.

Bands come through to use the space to rehearse before shows, and to record singles and albums. Some names of the bands that frequent the studio include Andrew McMahon, Chapter: SOUL, Madaila, Gipsy Moon, The Magic Beans, Fruition, Elephant Revival, and Field Division. Eventually, the studio hopes to host intimate shows on the property as well.

Evelyn & Nicholas. 

Evelyn & Nicholas. 

I got a chance to stop by this hidden gem and get to know the studio team and what led each of them to Mountain Start Studio.

Chris Sheldon- (Head Honcho/Father of the Studio/Member of DeadPish Orchestra)

Well, Kip had the place and another friend of mine had a recording machine that needed a home. Once I had the idea I just knew if we built it they will come. I was too young to ever go to Caribou Ranch Studio, but it's a part of history everyone knows about around here. What could be better than recording an album surrounded by the mountains and wilderness? That always sounded so amazing to me. So when this opportunity came, I thought I could put the dream into action.

Mike Pedersen- (In-House Band Member/Jack-of-All-Trades)

Mike.

Mike.

I took a drive across the country a couple years ago. I have some musician friends in the area and knew I wanted to check out Boulder. A week and a half into my travels in Colorado, I knew I was going to stay. I have some buddies in the band The Drunken Hearts and they took me up here to the studio; the rest is history. I’ve been here at the studio for close to a year now. I do all of sorts of stuff: the dishes, graphic design, interior design, [I’m the] in-house bass and guitar player… We all have to be a jack-of-all-trades on this team.     

Evelyn Taylor- (Lead Singer of Field Division/Marketing Manager)

Evelyn.

Evelyn.

About a year ago, [Field Division] were finishing a tour and were invited up to the studio to stay for a bit. We thought it was pretty cosmic because we didn’t have anywhere to go and didn’t want to head back to our home in Iowa. We have always dreamed about moving out to Colorado to start a vibrant art community in the mountains. We really wanted this community to follow the spirit of the Laurel Canyon scene in L.A., where artists lived together and collaborated on so many great records. I thought we would have to build our own property, but then we ran into Kip and Chris and they already had the dream going and needed help.   

Nicholas Frampton- (Member of Field Division/Studio Producer)

Nicholas. 

Nicholas. 

We arrived in late April of last year. We were pretty amazed by the property and actually had a record we were trying to finish, so we just plopped down at the studio to finish it. We ended up staying for a month on our first stay. We came back in July after that, and then again in October. At that point we were working out how we could stay and actually become resident artists and team members at the studio. Both Evelyn and I help with everything around here: branding, marketing, booking, producing records, and being a sort of in-house band for artists coming through.  

Chris Lewarchik- (Cheerleader/Vibe Coordinator)

I’m just visiting. I’m friends with all these mad people trying to do this great thing. I kinda help them cheerlead all the bands I’m friends with and people I see who are doing good things in order to get them into the studio. I am really trying to promote the whole Caribou vibe to get those people off the street in the city, where everything is just so hustle bustle, and here they can just kick back and record in a not-so-city-based environment.

This team is truly creating a unique studio where artists can come record and retreat with the support of a team that are themselves musicians, and are ready to help create each artist's’ vision. So if you are ready to take a break from the city, look out onto the continental divide, and make a record, check out Mountain Star Studio and get yourself up there.

 -Sierra

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

Premiere: Wolf van Elfmand's New Animated Music Video for "The New Folk"

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Denver’s Wolf van Elfmand is best known locally for his folk, country, and blues tunes. But his origins in music date back to 2009, when he collaborated with producer Cedar Apffel to release his debut self-titled EP. Since then, Elfmand has released three full length records: Magic to the Lonely, Wolf Sings, and The Death of. His next EP, Real Wolf, drops this summer on June 10th with a release party at Fort Greene Bar. Dango Rose of Elephant Revival co-produced the upcoming EP with Elfmand, and today is the premiere of the new music video for his single “The New Folk.”

The video for “The New Folk” features country and city animations courtesy of Boulder animator and artist Joseph Tonelli. The track features Dango Rose on bass, Enion Pelta-Tiller (Taarka) on fiddle, and backup vocals by Megan Rice. 

Said Wolf about the video, “‘The New Folk’ is a song for the generational shifts that are continuously unfolding. It’s a story of equality that blurs the line between humor and reality, as well as traditional melodies with contemporary form.”

Wolf.

Wolf.

Wolf’s classic format of weaving humor with cynicism in his songwriting is also evident in “The New Folk.” So give it a view and make sure to stay tuned for more music from Wolf on his website. Get details on his release party for Real Wolf here.

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

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

If The Cold Don't Kill Ya, The Music Will Save Ya: My Winter Wondergrass 2017 Experience

By: Mirna Tufekcic

If you didn’t know, Winter Wondergrass took place in Steamboat Springs this year. I don’t know about you, but I don’t necessarily think, “Oh fun!” when I think of February nights outside on a mountain freezing my ass off just to hear some live music. But I sucked it up and ventured out this year to see what the hype was all about. As it turns out, WWG is absolutely fun and yeah, you are pretty much freezing cold the whole time. But there was a lot of string picking, a lot of banjo bangin’ and mandolin shredding, and a lot of beer and whiskey drinkin’ people having a blast.  

On the first night of the festival, people seemed a bit unsure and disoriented, as though they too were wondering what compelled them to come to an outdoor music festival in the middle of winter with temperatures dropping down to, yeah, just about zero degrees. I eased into it by heading for one of the three heated tents on the festival grounds. Gipsy Moon was scheduled to play at the Soapbox Tent, so I prepared myself for a musical journey around the globe while standing in three layers of clothing. They played two sets, so I stuck around for both and kept warm. For the final stretch of the first night I made my way to the main stage for Leftover Salmon. It was my first time seeing them live and I gotta say these dudes are a lot of fun to watch as they made sure to keep people moving.

I couldn’t feel my fingers after taking a few pictures in the photo pit during their set, so I went looking for heat. Right by the SmartWool Tent, there were a couple of propane fire pits, so I posted myself there, still able to see the main stage. You know what’s really cool about a freezing winter music festival? You’ll make room around the fire for your fellow freezing music lovers, meet their acquaintances, and realize you all probably met somewhere in a past life.

Saturday was freezing. It snowed the entire day and night, making for a very winter wondergrass- I mean wonderland- vibe. I got to the festival in time for happy hour beer tastings and Grant Farm on the main stage. I hung out sippin’ some Oskar Blues watching the main stage from the sidelines when my old friend Taj walked by. We chatted for a bit and he told me to check out The Deer, who were playing at the SoapBox Tent in a few minutes. He manages the band, as it turns out. Desperately wanting to find warmth again, I made my way there. The Deer started to play and I wasn’t disappointed. They call their music “transcendental Texas folk.” They’re from Austin, TX and though their lead vocalist Grace Park could front an indie band with her style, she was sandwiched between a mandolin player, Noah Jeffreys, and an upright bassist, Jesse Dalton, which brought the bigger picture back into focus. And that picture was of course bluegrass.      

Mimi Naja. 

Mimi Naja. 

Fruition played the main stage in the afternoon that day, by which time the snowfall gained momentum, crowding the space with fat snowflakes all around. It made for a cozy Fruition set, and by cozy I mean really cold but magical. My girl Mimi Naja (vocals/mandolin/guitars), greeted us on the mic, “What’s up Colorado! You guys are crazy!” And the band proceeded to rock out with all of us freezing fruity freaks.

After Fruition’s set, it was time to warm up a little. The Lil’ Smokies played a short set at the Soapbox Tent, so I hurried over there. Their mando was loud and clear. The crowd could barely move from all the bodies packed in, but I think everyone was in need of heat. Andy Dunnigan, the band’s main vocalist and dobro player, got the crowd going, and people swayed, heating up the tent even more.

Saturday evening rolled around quickly, and it was time for a short interview with Ben Morrison of The Brothers Comatose. They played two consecutive sets at the Pickin’ Perch Tent and I got to chat with him between them.

“We love to see the crowd get comfortable enough to get down and have a great time. It’s more fun that way,” said Ben, after I acknowledged that The Brothers Comatose are known for putting together sets resembling house shows. He went on, “My brother Alex, who’s the banjo player in our band, and I grew up with our mom and her band rehearsing in our living room. We would sit and watch, enamored at the beautiful harmonies they produced. That’s where we got our inspiration to play.”  

Ben Morrison.

Ben Morrison.

Alex and Ben didn’t really listen to bluegrass until later in life. In fact, they played punk rock when they started a band as teenagers. So what changed?

“It’s easier when you don’t have to carry a huge amp and drums and shit. There’s no room for that,” Ben laughed, and then added more seriously, “But really what I realized was that I liked to play the acoustic guitar anytime I was writing a song. And my parents always said I needed to learn to play a song on an acoustic guitar before playing it on an electric.”

We ended our chat with an update on the band- The Brothers Comatose are releasing a bunch of new videos and a mini documentary on the recent Horseback Tour they did back in September, and they’re working on some new music with yet to be revealed big names in the bluegrass music world.

Fruition.

Fruition.

The rest of my Saturday night involved finding the fire pit, chatting with the friends from another life, and then heading back to the condo for a hot tub session to defrost. Most of my crew, however, went to the late night afterparty shows that featured some of the main acts at the festival. I attended one of those on Sunday night.

Sunday was a bluebird, clear skies, mimosas-all-day kind of day, for me anyway, since I didn’t have a ski pass. I got to the festival right in time for The California Honeydrops, who played the main stage as the sun warmed up everyone’s spirit. It was beautiful and hopeful. Then the sun set and it turned back to freezing cold again. But it was ok because we had music to warm us up. Oh, and whiskey, lots of whiskey. I think next year (if I dare go) I’ll dress up as a St. Bernard and carry a barrel of whiskey around my neck.     

Ungloved hands are risky at WW.

Ungloved hands are risky at WW.

Elephant Revival hit the main stage next. The thing about the elephants is that they’re magical and they’ll suck you right into their fairytale. Their music is so airy and spiritual that you can’t help but stop and listen. The only problem with stopping at an outdoor music festival in freezing temperatures is that you get get- you guessed it- cold. By the end of Elephant Revival’s set, I found myself in the Jamboree Tent with Dead Horses hoarding the heat vent. It was the coldest night yet.

Railroad Earth closed the final evening of Winter Wondergrass on the main stage, but I was too scared of losing my recently warmed body heat to make it out there. Instead, my friends and I rode the gondola to Thunderhead to check out The Infamous Stringdusters’ afterparty. We were met with a warm, crowded room of festive folk. Feet were stomping, music was grassy and people were jolly. It was a great way to end the festival. The final songs of the night at Thunderhead had the Stringdusters playing with Mimi and Jay from Fruition, Andy Dunnigan from Lil’ Smokies and a few others. It was a celebration: we had all made it through yet another wonderful Winter Wondergrass, snow and all.

The author, prior to adding more layers. 

The author, prior to adding more layers. 

PS: Did I mention the festival was sold out this year? Yeah- people seem to really love bluegrass in the winter.  

Get tickets to Winter Wondergrass in Tahoe, which happens March 31st-April 2nd 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.

Telluride Bluegrass Festival Announces Initial Lineup For 2017

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Last year, we brought you some exclusive coverage of Colorado’s Telluride Bluegrass Festival, both behind the scenes & in the crowd. John Prine, Dave Rawlings Machine, Emmylou Harris, Greensky Bluegrass, Houndmouth, and Leftover Salmon were some of last year’s standout performances, and Telluride’s famous fest has more magic up its sleeve for 2017.

Life at 2016 Telluride. Photo Credit:   Riley Ann

Life at 2016 Telluride. Photo Credit: Riley Ann

Today, initial lineup announcements were made for what will be the fest’s 44th year. Headliners include Sam Bush Band, Brandi Carlile, and Dierks Bentley with The Travelin’ McCourys. See the rest of the initial announcements on this year’s bill below, and get more info on the fest and tickets here.

Telluride Bluegrass 2017 Initial Lineup Announcement:

Sam Bush Band
Brandi Carlile
Dierks Bentley with The Travelin’ McCourys
Telluride House Band featuring Sam, Bela, Jerry, Edgar, Bryan & Stuart
Dispatch
Yonder Mountain String Band
Greensky Bluegrass
Bela Fleck & Chris Thile
Elephant Revival
Punch Brothers
Hot Rize
Peter Rowan
Jerry Douglas Band
Tim O’Brien
Chris Thile
Sarah Jarosz
The East Pointers
Fireball Mail

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

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

Boulder's Pearl Street Music & Arts Festival Kicks Off Tonight

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Blind Pilot. Yonder Mountain String Band. Langhorne Slim. What do these three talented acts have in common? They’re headlining the Pearl Street Music & Arts Festival, which kicks off tonight and lasts the whole weekend!

The Pearl Street Music & Arts Festival, which showcases local and national music acts at several venues across Boulder’s Pearl Street, starts at Rembrandt Yard Art Gallery tonight at 530PM with a Songwriter’s Workshop from Elephant Revival’s Dango Rose. From there, there’s a massive list of artists to see at various digs throughout the weekend. Whether you’re looking for a soulful serenade over coffee, (check out The Constellation Collective at The Laughing Goat) or you want to boogie down over brews (get to The Other Black at The Lazy Dog), there’s a show for you! Some of the weekend’s events are free, and others are ticketed, so make sure to get your details on that here.

All proceeds from The Pearl Street Music & Arts Festival go to The Future Arts Foundation and The CAN’d Aid Foundation. Both support local music, art, and more, which makes your entrance a donation to awesome organizations. It’s a win-win!

So get out and do some good this weekend by living local. Check out The Pearl Street Music & Arts Festival’s full schedule for November 17th-20th here.

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

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

Beth Preston's Album Release Show at The Fox Was a Night of Local Music Success

By: Zach Dahmen

There was a lot of local talent on stage at The Fox last week.

Behind the sweet warmth of the summer night, Fox Theatre’s sign was aglow last Thursday for the album release of Beth Preston’s new LP Little Mirrors. Local music enthusiasts crowded in front of the marquee on The Hill for a unique collection of local Colorado musicians: Paul Kimbiris, We Dream Dawn, and headliner Beth Preston.

Paul Kimbiris. Photo per   ALOC Media  .

Paul Kimbiris. Photo per ALOC Media.

Boulder favorite Paul Kimbiris set the tone for the evening with a fast-paced, heartfelt set. Playing with the same band who has backed him for other Fox performances, and who sometimes play together as BLVD, Kimbiris and his crew pulled the crowd lingering outside to the front of the stage with a foot-stomping set of originals. Kimbiris’ earnest songwriting and aggressively catchy music has made him a Boulder favorite for a reason, and he did not disappoint.

Sage Cook of We Dream Dawn. Photo per  ALOC Media .

Sage Cook of We Dream Dawn. Photo per ALOC Media.

Next was We Dream Dawn, a three-piece doing indie folk at its best. Both melodic and engaging, in their set, the band drew well-deserved attention as the middle players of the evening’s lineup.  WDD has a sound that is simple, and yet very complex all at once, which kept the attention of the crowd. Their addition of a violin on many of their tunes left many in the crowd wishing that their set were longer. It was impressive.

Beth Preston. Photo per  ALOC Media .

Beth Preston. Photo per ALOC Media.

After We Dream Dawn, I headed to the green room, which was filled with local musicians sharing libations, stories, and few pre-show yoga positions. The atmosphere was an excited energy for what was to come, and that was Beth Preston.

Beth Preston. Photo per  ALOC Media .

Beth Preston. Photo per ALOC Media.

Preston took the stage with the presence of a seasoned performer confidently pouring out her new tunes. Her contemplative and passionate writing paired well with her deep vocals, which are reminiscent of Fiona Apple. Preston’s eclectic set of music from Little Mirrors came alive with a cavalcade of local instrumentalists, including Hunter Stone on guitar, Leor Manelis on drums, Jon Wirtz on keys, Jon Gray on trumpet, Danny Rankin on bass, and Bridget Law of Elephant Revival on violin. This particular amalgamation of talent was put together especially for this show, which made for a dynamic and busy stage.

Bridget Law of Elephant Revival. Photo per  ALOC Media .

Bridget Law of Elephant Revival. Photo per ALOC Media.

Highlights of Preston’s set included the instantly catchy “Spirits”, and the wondering and beautifully contemplative song “Jesse’s Song”, a tune accented expertly by Gray on trumpet. To close, the band did a full rendition of The Beatles’ “Strawberry Fields”, with every member leaving the stage one at a time.

Overall, the night was one of the strongest local sets that has been played at the Fox Theater in some time. It was a perfect display of what putting Colorado local talent on one stage can create: a very good night of music.

-Zach

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

David at the Desk: Billy Shaddox's Transformation from "Working Class Hero" to Americana Artist

By: David Landry

Billy Shaddox has had quite the journey to get to where he is now, which is in Colorado making great Americana music.

The first time I heard Billy Shaddox was live at Birdhouse Concert Series, a once a month DIY concert series with local music, food, and beer. I’d been wandering around the event finding people to talk to, and after bumping into Billy, I learned he was one of the night’s performers. Billy’s songs were strong and short, leaving everyone in the audience wanting more. I was pumped to hear his new music, and he killed his performance. I was curious to learn more about this Colorado transplant by way of California, so we met up at Mountain Sun for a brew.

Ol' Billy Boy.

Ol' Billy Boy.

Shaddox has this attitude that makes you want to get to know him. And the more you talk to him, the more you realize he embodies a “working class hero”. Years before moving to Colorado, he was an everyday man, working as a civil engineer in San Diego to support his family. His job required moving around often, and spending time away from his wife and two kids. So one day, after discussing his fears about playing music for a living, his wife was actually the one to tell him to make the jump.  And so began Billy Shaddox’s musical career.

Billy Shaddox.

Billy Shaddox.

Shaddox recorded at Great North Sound Society in Maine with Sam Kassirer (Elephant Revival, Langhorne Slim, Josh Ritter). This is where Shaddox’s record, I Melt, I Howl was born, an Americana album filled with love and relief about life. The theme of change can be heard throughout the 11-song record. His songwriting has this timelessness to it that makes you remember past feelings and gets you excited for what's to come.  

There is also a visual element to Shaddox’s work. His songs remind me of being in the mountains and seeing every shade of green that exists. Billy’s music has this great country-Americana vibe to it that is perfect for a beautiful summer in Colorado. I can honestly say that I will be listening to it all summer, and hoping for more to come.

Though Billy has been touring for almost two years, he hasn’t played Colorado much. I get the sense that part of that is because that when he gets home from traveling, there’s probably an element of not wanting to do anything but be in the mountains with his family and write new songs. But, for the next few months, Shaddox has a number of shows around the state, including performances in Boulder, Longmont, Lyons. Make sure to catch one and check out Billy’s music.

Listen to I Melt, I Howl, and I have a feeling you’ll be happy Billy made the jump too:

-David at the desk

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited.

Joseph Tonelli: Boulder's "Newest" Singer-Songwriter Tells Us About His Situation

By: Hannah Oreskovich

We're pretty obsessed with Joseph Tonelli's situation.

Born in Chicago, former vagabond-turned-Boulder-resident Joseph Tonelli has been playing music for years. The banjo was his first love, and he actually used to strum in a band with friend and fellow musician Dango Rose (of Elephant Revival) back in their highschool days. After college, Tonelli did a lot of traveling, spending years at a time out of the country. But he and his five-year-old son are now settled here in Boulder and through a series of life events, Tonelli turned back to music and is working on his debut solo album.

“The album I’m making now is sort of the tip of what I’ve been doing for a long time; the tip of my story, you know? I’ve been writing songs for years, but never properly produced or shared any of my music. Most of what I have done in the past is loads and loads of demos. This is different. [After recording] DIY in my living room, I sent everything to my friend Valentino in Italy for production and instrumentation. I found that recording was the easy part- now it’s everything else: promotion, distribution, the album artwork, music videos- I’m doing this project DIY in its entirety. But one of the best parts is, I’m working on all of those parts with a lot of friends.”

And Tonelli sure has a lot of those. He’s currently working on the album artwork with a connection in Asheville, his recent music video release was done by a buddy overseas, and he’s chatting with some friends about the possibility of a vinyl release in the spring.

“Vinyl has been a part of my life for a long time- I remember going through my dad’s 45s as a kid and choosing the ones I liked and separating them from the ones I didn't. I just really value the whole experience [of vinyl]- the smell and the weight and the sound; some of it is straight nostalgia. So I’ve been battling with the idea of releasing it that way.”

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When it comes to the stories behind Tonelli’s songs, he told us, “All seven tracks are super personal; uncomfortably personal. That’s the music I love, that’s the music I listen to, that’s the music that keeps me company. So that’s where I write- to move through things or to say something to somebody when I’m not that good at talking to them. The first song [on the album] I wrote in 2006 and the last one I wrote about a month ago, so I’ve picked songs from different transitions and highlights in life. I don’t write heartbreak songs, but a bunch of these songs are in that vein of the heart in relationship to other people. All of these songs have been collected through my experiences and emotional stuff.”

Following his plans of a spring release, Tonelli wants to continue working creatively with collaborators on his music, to play more live shows, and to keep writing new material.

“I felt like I couldn’t move on until I got some of these older songs out,” he said, “But these were the songs that presented themselves. I finally feel like I’ve been able to sculpt the record that I’ve been trying to sculpt for a long time.”

Stay tuned for updates on Joseph Tonelli’s official release date, and in the meantime, check out the new, awesome animated music video he just released for his first single, “My Situation”:

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists 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.