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Regional artists to perform at Folk ’N Bluegrass Festival

Pagosa Folk ‘N Bluegrass will take place on June 5 and 6 on Reservoir Hill, with the traditional Free Friday kickoff concert scheduled for June 4 at 5 p.m. at the Town Park gazebo.

The festival is a family-friendly event with musical performances on two stages during the day plus free children’s activities, food and craft vendors and campground picking all day and most of the night. While most of the performers are nationally known, a few are regionally-based like this week’s featured artists: Honey Don’t and Halden Wofford and the Hi-Beams.

Honey Don’t is the musical union of Bill Powers and Shelley Gray, perhaps better known as one-half of the Paonia, Colorado-based old-time bluegrass band, Sweet Sunny South. Their music is acoustic and based in the folk tradition. They draw from their bluegrass and old-time background while injecting country, blues and a little swing. The songs are catchy and engaging, funny, sad, lonesome and uplifting.  Most of the songs are original, but select covers and traditional tunes are part of their repertoire as well. 

Bill describes himself as a writer first and foremost and all the while that he has been writing songs for Sweet Sunny South; Shelley has been right there working out arrangements and adding her bass and voice to the mix.  Honey Don’t is the harmonious result of their long-time partnership as musicians, parents and friends. Bill and Shelley’s comfort on stage and with one another creates a laid-back and endearing vibe that shines through the music. The quality of their songs ranges from sweet and dreamy to downright rockin’, resulting in an eclectic sound enjoyed by any audience.

In 2009, Honey Don’t welcomed Ryan Drickey on fiddle and Greg Schochet on mandolin and guitar.  Greg and Ryan are two of the best acoustic musicians Colorado has to offer.  This combination of talent and collective experience are destined to leave a lasting mark on the acoustic music scene throughout the western region of the US.  Between the four musicians, they have played nearly every major regional festival and stage you can name including The Durango Meltdown, Four Corners Folk Festival, High Mountain Hayfever, A Prairie Home Companion, The Rialto, Boulder and Fox Theaters, Moab Folk Festival, Rockygrass, Silverton Jubilee, Flagstaff’s Pickin’ in the Pines, Wintergrass in Tacoma, and many more.  Honey Don’t will play the Main Stage Sunday, June 6 at 11 a.m. and also has an acoustic set on Saturday, June 5, at 3 p.m. on the Rendezvous Stage.

Everyone will have the opportunity to discover the wild and rockin’ swing music of Halden Wofford and the Hi-Beams when they open the Free Friday concert on June 4 at 5 p.m. in the Town Park gazebo. Those unfamiliar with Halden Wofford and the Hi-Beams are often as shocked by the band’s rootsy, honky tonk music as listeners once were by the Beatles’ shaggy hairdos or Johnny Rotten’s snarling lyrics. But just as old-time beers like Pabst Blue Ribbon and Miller High Life are again topping the drink charts, classic honky tonk is back in style with a force. The echoey twang of the steel guitar, snap of the snare drum, thump of the stand-up bass and rippin’ electric guitar solos mix with Wofford’s distinctive vocals to create a solid sound that is familiar yet purely original. Not unlike hard-core bluegrass, The Hi-Beams’ style of honky tonk has a language and culture all to itself, but only takes one quick lesson to learn how to love it for a lifetime.

Wofford’s growly, wavering tenor rings out across dive bars, theaters, municipal concerts and festivals all along the Front Range of Colorado and beyond, conjuring up images of Hank Williams Sr., Buddy Holly and Bob Wills. But while Wofford and his creative powerhouse of talented musicians are committed to playing real country music, they don’t stick just to the old, time-tested favorites. The band’s long collection of original tunes accompanies a handful of familiar crowd-pleasers to create a bulging repertoire of good music.

Halden Wofford and the Hi-Beams’ first CD was released in 2003 to critical acclaim, topping the Freeform American Roots (FAR) Chart for two consecutive months. On the heels of a successful appearance on A Prairie Home Companion, the band’s second CD, “Midnight Rodeo,” was released in June 2006. A third, as now untitled CD, will be released in 2009. The Hi-Beams will play a main stage set on Saturday, June 5, at 1:15 p.m. with another late-night set Saturday night at 9.

The Pagosa Folk ‘N Bluegrass is supported by a grant from the Colorado Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Colorado General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

Festival tickets and information are available on the FolkWest Web site: www.folkwest.com or by calling (877) 472-4672.