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Eddie from Ohio, Solas, headliners at Folk ’N Bluegrass Festival

The fourth annual Pagosa Folk ‘N Bluegrass Festival will kick off with the traditional Free Friday concert on June 3 beginning at 4 p.m. in Town Park.

The concert will feature music from three festival performers: MilkDrive, The Grant Farm and Warren Hood and the Goods and there’s no admission charge. Gates open at 3:00 PM next Friday, with food provided by area nonprofits and micro-brew beer available in the beer garden.

 Also on the festival lineup this year are nine other phenomenal bands: Crooked Still, Joy Kills Sorrow, The Dixie Bee-Liners, Town Mountain, Rockin’ Acoustic Circus, Spring Creek and Finnders and Youngberg and this year’s headliners: Eddie From Ohio and Solas.

 Eddie From Ohio is no stranger to the Pagosa Springs music audience, having won the hearts and minds of Four Corners Folk Festival fans for the first time back in 1999 and returning seven times to that festival over the following years. This marks the band’s first June appearance at the Folk ‘N Bluegrass festival. Eddie from Ohio continues to defy description with their unique blend of vocals and acoustic instrumentation. A bedrock foundation of hand and stick percussion and a textural flavoring of guitar/bass/harmonica support the four-part harmonies and lyrically-driven original music. While this combination has drawn comparisons like the Grateful Dead meets Peter, Paul and Mary, or like Jewel fronts the Bare Naked Ladies, EFO fuses a multitude of musical influences to create their own trademark sound.

Performing Songwriter writes, “The manic strumminess recalls Ani DiFranco or Dave Matthews, but there’s also a deep undercurrent of high, lonesome mountain harmony that should appeal to fans of Alison Krauss and Union Station.”

With this trademark sound, EFO has produced nine CDs independently (selling upwards of 150,000 copies to date), toured from Florida to Washington State, cultivated massive postal and e-mail lists, received air play from hundreds of radio stations worldwide, been invited to play the main stage at prestigious festivals like Philadelphia Folk, Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, Telluride Bluegrass Festival, the Four Corners Folk Festival and Strawberry Music Festival, appeared on syndicated radio programs Mountain Stage, West Coast Live and World Cafe, and were awarded “Best Contemporary Folk Group” by the Washington Area Music Association six times since 1997.

The Virginia-based band began in 1991, playing covers in neighborhood bars when three James Madison University graduates (Robbie Schaefer, Eddie Hartness and Michael Clem) teamed up with Virginia Tech alumnae Julie Murphy Wells. After a popular seven year Tuesday night residency at Bad Habits Grille in Arlington, VA, EFO graduated from town taverns to renowned listening rooms and concert series throughout the country, where their tight harmonies and humorous lyrics, set against an eclectic array of musical forms, can be featured to best advantage.

Eddie From Ohio will headline the festival on Saturday, June 4, with a  7:30 p.m. show on the main stage.

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 Shanachie CD, 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 is virtually unique in the new territory it has opened up for Celtic music. The band 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.

The Philadelphia Inquirer Magazine says, “Seamus Egan and Solas make mind-blowing Irish folk music, maybe the world’s best,” while the Los Angeles Times says, “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, they are 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, they transcend musical genres into the realm of pure musical expression that only a relative handful of musicians attain.

The internationally acclaimed supergroup 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.

Solas’ set will be the finale of this year’s Folk ‘N Bluegrass festival, with a 6 p.m. performance on Sunday, June 5, on Reservoir Hill.

To purchase festival tickets for the weekend or individual days, or for additional information, visit www.folkwest.com or call (877) 472-4672.  Pagosa Folk ‘N Bluegrass is supported by a grant from Colorado Creative Industries, a state agency, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

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