The 15th annual Four Corners Folk Festival officially gets underway on Friday, Sept. 3 (not counting the Camper’s Eve concert at the Liberty Theater on Wednesday, Sept. 1) and continues through Sunday, Sept, 5, with musical performances by Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder, the Sam Bush Band, The Infamous Stringdusters, Solas, Over the Rhine, Crooked Still, Sarah Jarosz, John Jorgenson Quintet, Anne and Pete Sibley, the Black Lillies, Caravan of Thieves, Sarah Siskind and MilkDrive, plus this week’s featured artists: Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen and Sweet Sunny South.
Frank Solivan is a singer of power and passion, a writer whose articulate songs go straight to the heart and a multi-instrumentalist who combines the pure, hard drive of classic bluegrass with 21st century sophistication. Frank’s 2002 debut recording, “I Am A Rambler,” revealed an exciting new talent on the bluegrass horizon. The following year, his skills on mandolin, fiddle, guitar, and vocals earned him a place in Country Current, the United States Navy’s elite country and bluegrass band. In 2006, Frank’s recording, “Selfish Tears,” demonstrates the depth of his songwriting and the breadth of his musicianship. Frank penned eight of the CD’s 11 tracks, and his performances display an added strength and maturity.
Born in Modesto, Calif., Frank learned to sing and play the fiddle and banjo from his parents, both gifted musicians. By the time he was 12 years old he had already taken first place in several fiddle and banjo contests. During his high school years Frank studied the cello, eventually occupying the second chair in the cello section of the California All-State Honor Orchestra.
In 1995 Frank moved to Alaska, where he taught fiddle, mandolin, and guitar, and took first prize in the Alaska State Fair fiddle contest four years in a row. While playing first chair violin in the University of Alaska’s Symphony, he was also touring with bluegrass legends Doug Dillard and Ginger Boatwright. And even though he was barely twenty years old, he acted as a key mentor to members of Bearfoot (Winners of the 2001 National Band Competition at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in Colorado) and other young Alaskan artists. This will be the band’s second Pagosa gig, coming off their 2009 appearance at Pagosa Folk ‘N Bluegrass.
Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen is slated to play the main stage on Friday, Sept. 3 at 4:30 p.m.
Sweet Sunny South is an acoustic old timey string band that plays a unique blend of new and traditional music. Based in Paonia, Colo., the band has been making a name for itself at festivals and theaters for the past eight years and has received invitations to perform as an official showcase band for both the International Bluegrass Music Association conference and The Folk Alliance in 2006. The group was also featured as one of Colorado’s “Movers and Shakers” in Denver’s Westword magazine in 2007 and were selected the winners of the New Belgium Brewery’s “What’s your Folly?” contest after writing a jingle for the brewery.
Sweet Sunny South represents the traditional music of greats such as The Stanley Brothers and The Carter Family, while at the same time drawing influences from more contemporary bands such as The Freighthoppers, The Wilders and The Reeltime Travelers.
Banjo and mandolin player Bill Powers writes most of the bands’ songs, which take the listener on a journey into dusty old American music. Cory Obert plays a mean old-time fiddle, sometimes with a Cajun flare, and sings a solid high tenor. Rob Miller also writes songs, plays the D 28 guitar and sings lead and harmony. Shelley Gray (aka “Laura Ingalls Wilder n Swingin”) plays the ‘ol kay bass, sings, hollers and puts the “Sweet” in Sweet Sunny South.
Audiences can expect a highly entertaining stage show featuring rollicking fiddle tunes, soulful ballads, tight vocal harmonies and an exceptional array of original songs combined with a heavy dose of humor that keeps the crowd smiling. The group has recorded four CDs which are receiving heavy airplay across the country.
Transport yourself back to the glory days of the Grand Ole Opry and experience Sweet Sunny South weaving in and out around a single microphone, presenting their style of old time music on the festival’s main stage at 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 4.
The Four Corners Folk Festival is supported with funding from Colorado Creative Industries, a state agency, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.
For complete schedule and lineup information, or to purchase tickets online, visit www.folkwest.com. Tickets can be purchased by cash or check at Moonlight Books and the Pagosa Springs Area Chamber of Commerce or with a credit card by calling (877) 472-4672.