The countdown is on! Just four weeks from tomorrow, on June 8, Pagosa Folk ‘N Bluegrass will get underway with three days of incredible live musical performances on Reservoir Hill.
This year’s lineup spans a range of musical styles — folk, bluegrass, newgrass, folk rock, and those bands that are just plain impossible to categorize, like this week’s spotlighted artists SHEL and Jayme Stone.
SHEL is Sarah, Hannah, Eva and Liza, four classically trained musicians who happen to be sisters ranging in age from 18-23. From the artist colony of Fort Collins, Colo., SHEL is sophisticated and youthful, emotional and lighthearted, classic and eccentric. SHEL’s engaging live show is marked with a prodigy’s creativity and a veteran’s instinct for entertaining. Audiences delight in their unique songwriting style and fresh new sound.
The Holbrook sisters grew up in a musical household and first appeared on the stage backing their singer-songwriter father, Andrew Holbrook. In 2005, the girls collaborated to form SHEL and now play and write all of their own music. Their new EP “When the Dragon Came Down,” was co-produced by SHEL and six-time Grammy Award-winner Brent Maher. The band has attracted the attention of such major media outlets as NPR’s eTown Live and ABC.com; toured nationwide playing fairs and festivals including South by Southwest, International Folk Alliance, Lilith Fair, Four Corners Folk Festival and Cornerstone; and had one of their songs featured in Glade’s Scented Oil Candle’s national TV ad campaign.
Immensely gifted as a violinist and vocalist, Sarah (violin, bass) also shines with her bass chops. She is the primary designer of SHEL’s original graphics and videography. She is also the undisputed ambassador of fun at every show. An award-winning young composer and pianist, Hannah (piano, keyboards) sings and helps arrange SHEL’s unique vocal harmonies. She studied piano performance and composition at Colorado State University. Lead vocalist and one of the primary writers, Eva (mandolin, cello) plays both acoustic and electric mandolin and is involved in every phase of arranging and production. Eva records many of the band’s tracks in their home studio. Equally proficient on the Djembe and Roland Handsonic drum, Liza (drums, percussion) has a natural polyrhythmic ability that was spotted at an early age. Her creative approach to percussion enables her to create the unique rhythmic patterns that help define SHEL’s music.
These dynamic young women will play the main stage Saturday, June 9 at 3:45 PM.
Two-time Juno-winning banjoist Jayme Stone makes music inspired by folk traditions from around the world. His latest album, “Room of Wonders,” explores music from Norway, Sweden, Bulgaria, Brazil, Italy and North America. The repertoire includes a movement from Bach’s “French Suite,” a Moorish sword-fighting dance and Stone’s lush, edgy originals.
Stone thrives on unexpected inspiration: Japanese poetry, Brazilian literature, instruments he found while traveling in remote Malian villages. He finds it with influences as diverse as Anouar Brahem, Bill Frisell and Toumani Diabaté. His Juno Award-winning albums, most notably “Africa to Appalachia,” both defy and honor the banjo’s long role in the world’s music, turning historical connections into compelling music.
The last chapter in Stone’s musical travelogue took place in Africa. He went, knowing what is still news to most: that the hide-covered instrument with an “extra” drone string we call the banjo actually comes from West Africa. He became particularly curious about the music that made it across the ocean on slave ships headed west from Senegal and Mali in the 1600s. The resulting album, “Africa to Appalachia,” is a boundary-crossing musical collaboration with singer and kora maestro Mansa Sissoko.
Jayme Stone’s Room of Wonders will be performing on Sunday, June 10, at 11 a.m.
Pagosa Folk ‘N Bluegrass is currently seeking volunteers to work a six-hour shift during the three-day weekend. Volunteers will be able to attend the festival free of charge for all three days. If you are interested in volunteering please email Dan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pagosa Folk ‘N Bluegrass is a kid-friendly event with free admission for kids 12 and under who are accompanied by an adult. In addition to the music on the main and late night stages, craft and food vendors and lively pickin’ circles in the campgrounds, the festival hosts a children’s program that offers free arts and crafts and kids entertainment all weekend long.
For complete festival information or to purchase tickets, visit www.folkwest.com. Tickets can also be purchased by phone at (877) 472-4672.