The 15th annual Four Corners Folk Festival will take place over Labor Day weekend, Sept. 3-5, on Reservoir Hill Park, right here in Pagosa Springs.
Music lovers from all over the country have already purchased their tickets in anticipation of the stellar music served up in a spectacular setting amongst the ponderosa pines overlooking the majestic San Juan Mountains. FolkWest went all out in putting together a lineup that would truly represent the auspiciousness of the event’s major milestone: 15 years of nationally-acclaimed music festivals in your own backyard. Musicians who will be celebrating with us at this year’s festival include Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder, Sam Bush, The Infamous Stringdusters, Over The Rhine, Crooked Still, John Jorgenson Quintet, Caravan of Thieves, Sarah Jarosz, Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen, Anne and Pete Sibley, Sweet Sunny South, Milk Drive, plus this week’s profiled festival artists: Solas and Sarah Siskind.
Solas offers a compellingly original, strikingly contemporary view of traditional Celtic sounds. Although Solas can play undiluted traditional Irish music as well as anyone alive or departed, the band is always varying the mix of fire-tested tradition and contemporary sensibility with an ease and naturalness that is as astonishing as their overwhelming musicianship. As a result, Solas transcends musical genres into the realm of pure musical expression that only a relative handful of musical artists attain. The internationally-acclaimed super group has not only captured the hearts and ears of Irish music fans, but fans all around the globe with their blend of Celtic traditional, folk and country melodies, bluesy — sometimes jazz-inspired — improvisations and global rhythms.
Since its birth in 1996, Solas has been loudly proclaimed as the most popular, influential, and exciting Celtic band to ever emerge from the United States. Even before the release of its first CD, the Boston Herald trumpeted the ensemble as “the first truly great Irish band to arise from America,” and the Irish Echo ranked Solas among the “most exciting bands anywhere in the world.” Since then, the praise has only grown louder. The Philadelphia Inquirer said they make “mind-blowing Irish folk music, maybe the world’s best.” The New York Times praised their “unbridled vitality,” the Washington Post dubbed them one of the “world’s finest Celtic-folk ensembles” and the Austin American-Statesman called them “the standard by which contemporary Celtic groups are judged.” Solas has built a fanbase that includes the likes of Bela Fleck, Emmylou Harris and the much sought-after rap producer Timbaland, who surprisingly sampled the band on his radio hit “All Yall.” Their latest release is “The Turning Tide,” available on Compass Records.
Solas is virtually unique in the new territory it has opened up for Celtic music. It has performed at all the major Celtic and folk festivals, including Philadelphia, Edmonton, the legendary National Folk Festival, and Milwaukee’s Irish fest; but also at Telluride Bluegrass Festival, and the chamber music summer series at Steamboat Springs, Colorado. It has performed at Symphony Hall, Wolf Trap, the Ford Amphitheater, and Queens Hall in Edinburgh, Scotland.
In New York City, where the band was based in its early years, it has played at the legendary Bottom Line folk club, but also at vaunted classical venues Town Hall and Symphony Space. The Solas sound today is anchored by founders Seamus Egan, who plays flute, tenor banjo, mandolin, whistle, guitar and bodhran, and fiddler Winifred Horan. They are two of the most respected — and imitated — musicians anywhere in acoustic music. Mick McAuley from Kilkenny plays accordion and concertina; Eamon McElholm from Tyrone plays guitar and keyboards. Solas will bring its world-renowned Celtic sound to Reservoir Hill on Sunday, Sept. 5 at 5:00 p.m.
Sarah Siskind is seen as one of today’s most eclectic songwriters, with songs covered by Alison Krauss, Randy Travis, Bon Iver, the Infamous Stringdusters, April Verch and more. Krauss released two Siskind songs as singles, and in 2008, her rendition of “Simple Love” was nominated for a Grammy.
In 2009, Sarah stepped into the artist spotlight with her own album “Say it Louder” (Red Request Records/Thirty Tigers). Although she has been making records since the age of 14 (including the 2002 release “Covered” which featured world-renowned guitarist Bill Frisell), “Say it Louder” is making the biggest splash among fans and critics alike. Bonnie Raitt calls it “a masterpiece” while “Big Al” Anderson of NRBQ calls it “one of the best records ever made.” Bon Iver, the indie-rock sensation who has been covering Siskind’s material live, states “Sarah’s music changed my life.” Bob Boilen of NPR was so crazy about Say it Louder that he featured it on NPR’s All Songs Considered, his exclusive video-cast “Tiny Desk Concert” series, and in June, the title track “Say it Louder” was named NPR’s Song of the Day. A fourth NPR showcase was featured in the fall of 2009 when Sarah was interviewed and performed live on World Cafe Live with David Dye.
In October of 2009, “Say it Louder “was named Americana Album of the Year in the Nashville Music Awards. Armed with her own striking vocal sound and sharp musicianship, the respect Sarah has garnered as a songwriter and an artist in Nashville has quickly spread across the country and beyond. You can enjoy Sarah’s compelling musicianship on the main festival stage on Saturday, Sept. 4, at 12:15 p.m.
The Four Corners Folk Festival is supported by funding from the Colorado Creative Industries Division, a state agency, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.
Numerous volunteers are needed to help with various aspects of festival production. Interested parties should call (970) 731-5582.
Tickets and information to the Four Corners Folk Festival are available online at www.folkwest.com or by calling (877) 472-4672. Children 12 and under are admitted free with an accompanying adult, and can enjoy numerous free shows and activities at the Four Corners Kids tent throughout the weekend.