The 16th annual Four Corners Folk Festival is just weeks away, set to take place Sept. 2-4 in Pagosa Springs.
This year will be the biggest event in FolkWest’s history, with a lineup full of heavy hitters including headliners the Keb’ Mo’ Band, Los Lobos and Natalie MacMaster, plus Jackie Greene, Punch Brothers, Jimmy LaFave, The Infamous Stringdusters, Caravan of Thieves, Chatham County Line, Cousin Harley, The Black Lillies, MilkDrive and this week’s featured artists: Joy Kills Sorrow and Anne and Pete Sibley.
Our first band made their Pagosa debut in June at Pagosa Folk ‘N Bluegrass to an adoring new audience. With its bold new brand of acoustic music, Joy Kills Sorrow pushes right through the envelope and out the other side. The Boston-based string band brings a decidedly modern sensibility to an old-world sound, channeling the prodigious talents of its individual members into elegant arrangements and well-crafted songs. While the group pays due homage to its bluegrass roots—its name is taken from WJKS, a radio station that broadcasted the Monroe brothers’ show in the 1930s—the band truly excels in its rich and textured treatment of more contemporary material. Boasting a full arsenal of original songs, Joy Kills Sorrow plumbs the entire spectrum of its spare instrumentation, effortlessly merging influences as diverse as folk, rock, pop, and jazz. The music that emerges is dark and often funny, ruminating on modern life and love with eloquence and wit. The result is a radical new strain of folk music, one that bravely breaks with tradition even as it salutes the past.
Formed under the banner “a modern American string band,” Joy Kills Sorrow first emerged out of Boston’s thriving folk music scene in 2005, releasing their self-titled debut album in 2007. Two years and several band members later, Joy Kills Sorrow is poised to make its mark with a new lineup of some of the country’s finest young talent. Founding member Matthew Arcara, a subtle and expressive guitarist, was the 2006 winner of Winfield’s National Flatpicking Championship. Joy Kills Sorrow’s newest addition, mandolin virtuoso Jacob Jolliff, is Berklee School of Music’s first full-scholarship mandolin student and a veteran performer, having toured professionally since age eleven and shared the stage with mandolin legends David Grisman and Mike Marshall. Wesley Corbett, a banjoist of uncommon facility and grace, was featured in the August 2008 issue of Banjo Newsletter and has toured nationally with Crooked Still and The Biscuit Burners. Emma Beaton, the 2008 Canadian Folk Music Awards’ Young Performer of the Year, adds an earthy, powerful presence to the band as its newly-minted vocalist. And bassist Bridget Kearney, winner of the 2006 John Lennon Songwriting Contest, is largely responsible for Joy Kills Sorrow’s inimitable sound, thanks to her impeccable musicality and distinctive songwriting style.
Since its inception, Joy Kills Sorrow has performed at theaters, listening rooms, and festivals across the continent and has been featured on nationally syndicated radio programs. In 2007, the group won first prize in the Podunk Bluegrass Festival Band Contest; that same year, they were deemed the “‘poster children for the burgeoning Americana format” by Sing Out! magazine. The band has evolved considerably in the years since then, and their sophomore effort promises to deliver. Released in February on Signature Sounds, the new album, Darkness Sure Becomes This City, features a wealth of original material from members of Joy Kills Sorrow as well as some fine new songs from other composers. The CD is an accomplished piece of work, laced throughout with polished arrangements and pop-inflected melodies. With it, Joy Kills Sorrow gracefully combines the old and the new, and the outcome, however surprising, is sublime. Joy Kills Sorrow will play the festival’s main stage on Friday, Sept. 2 at 4:15 p.m.. and again at the Ross Aragon Community Center on Saturday, Sept. 3, at 9 p.m..
Originally from New England, husband and wife duet Anne and Pete Sibley have been at home in the Rocky Mountain West since 1999. Singing for as long as they can remember, Anne and Pete have come many miles from their classical music training to “the people’s music:” folk, bluegrass and traditional. Using the guitar and clawhammer banjo to accompany their tight harmonies, the Sibleys tell stories about life and love as they see it, and it is this quality that rings true with audiences from coast to coast. Anne & Pete’s music highlights their connection with the landscape, community, family, and even the food they grow and eat. Less than a decade since they released their first album, the Sibleys’ music hit the national spotlight in 2009 with a first place finish in the “Great American Duet Sing Off” on National Public Radio’s A Prairie Home Companion. In 2009, the couple released their fourth and most critically-acclaimed CD, “Coming Home.” Prior releases are “Will You Walk With Me” (2005), “Winter on the Great Divide “(2007) and “Think of This River” (2004).
Anne and Pete will be making their sixth straight appearance at the festival in their traditional time slot, opening Sunday’s performances at 11 a.m. with their beautiful and deeply moving music from the heart.
FolkWest is a Colorado cultural non-profit that receives financial support from the El Pomar Foundation, La Plata Electric Roundup Foundation, and the Ballantine Family Fund.
To purchase tickets or for additional information about the festival schedule, bands and lineup, visit the festival website at www.folkwest.com, or call (877) 472-4672 (locally, 731-5582).