The Fifth Annual Folk ‘N Bluegrass will get underway on Friday, June 8, with the official opening of the campground at 11 a.m. Music workshops start at noon that day and music on the main stage kicks off at 5 p.m.
The 14 bands on this year’s lineup represent a broad spectrum of musical styles including newgrass, bluegrass, folk, folk rock, Americana and various and sundry combinations of all of the above. This year’s bands are Mountain Heart, Jimmy LaFave, Elephant Revival, Sierra Hull and Highway 111, Bearfoot, SHEL, The Deadly Gentlemen, Phoebe Hunt Project, Cahalen Morrison & Eli West, Lake Street Dive, Jayme Stone’s Room of Wonders, Finnders & Youngberg and this week’s featured bands: David Wilcox and Larkin Poe.
When you attend a Larkin Poe show, it is impossible not to see and hear that these sisters have soul and musical prowess well beyond their years. At 21 and 23, respectively, Rebecca and Megan Lovell are charismatic performers, experienced songwriters and accomplished musicians. Featuring tight vocal harmonies and dizzying instrumental riffs, the music of Larkin Poe ranges from folk-rock to acoustic R&B, from grooving jam band to delicate singer-songwriter — Larkin Poe is versatile, entertaining, and totally authentic in all that they do.
Born and raised in Georgia, the sisters’ musical journey began as children, playing classical violin and piano at the ages of 5 and 6. In their early teens, after winning a prestigious award on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion on NPR, the then-called “Lovell Sisters” toured internationally — from the stage of the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tenn., to Bonnaroo. At the beginning of 2010, after saying farewell to The Lovell Sisters, the musical story of Rebecca and Megan’s young adulthood began in the form of a new band: Larkin Poe.
With a seemingly inexhaustible fount of creativity and passion, Larkin Poe hit the road running in January 2010, and, in less than two years, has already released five studio projects of all-original music, become a regular fixture on radio charts across Europe, and acted as the backing band for Elvis Costello on his international tours — with a live performance DVD due out summer 2012 and a new studio project in the works for winter 2012.
With extensive tours booked across the United States and Europe, Larkin Poe continues its high-energy invasion of the folk music scene, captivating audiences around the world with the band’s insightful lyrics, magnetic presence, and dazzling instrumental virtuosity. You can catch Larkin Poe on Sunday, June 10, at 3 p.m.
David Wilcox is a true American treasure. He has sold over 750,000 discs and has been writing songs for 30 years. Wilcox is known for his open-tuning acoustic guitar, sawed-off capos, storytelling wit, and insightful metaphors. Perhaps the Boston Globe best summarizes the music of David Wilcox: “Fueled by brilliantly articulate guitar, an honestly pretty baritone, and deft lyrics, he combines the best of both pop and modern folk aesthetics.”
Wilcox loves following where the music leads, as he explains talking about his latest CD “Reverie.”
“I just like how a short song can start a long conversation. I enjoy seeing new landscapes and perspectives, and these songs are like pictures I take on my travels. Some are from wild points of view and that’s why I like them. And yes, there are also some songs on this new CD that speak straight from the heart just like the old David Wilcox always used to do, but this time he’s surrounded by an interesting cast of characters.”
Wilcox made a bunch of records before getting to this one. Sixteen have been released prior to “Reverie,” going all the way back to 1987 with a disc called “Nightshift Watchman.” That was followed up by a trio of discs on A&M Records, two each on Koch Records and Vanguard (A&M and Vanguard both later released compilations, as well), and the last six discs have all been released through What Are Records?
Some musicians travel in order to play music; David Wilcox is just the opposite. “I play music in order to travel. I was a traveler first. For the first decade of my travels, I loved seeing different communities as I was riding my bicycle all over the world. I’ve got pictures and memories of great adventures from back when I was traveling light. All I wanted back then was something to give back. I wanted a way to meet my tribe, find friends along the way. Music has been a way to offer a better trade for all the inspiration I get from the people and places I visit,” Wilcox relates.
“For more than twenty years now, I have been following the navigation I get from music. I love to follow where music leads, not geographically, but emotionally. One of my first songs, ‘Gone to Santa Fe,’ I wrote long before I traveled there. It sounds like a love song for a woman who dares me to come with her on an adventure, but that’s just a way to sing what music has been for me. And now, twenty four years later, there is a new song on the latest recording about going to Ireland. No, I haven’t been yet, but through writing the song, I set my heart on what I really want to find there. Not a tourist vacation, but rather an experience that wakes up my spirit. Music has always given me a hint of a point of view that is beyond my horizon.”
Between those two songs, there are decades of others that also chart the course of Wilcox’s adventure. There are some that led to specific cities, like “Three Brothers,” that got the songwriter to Jerusalem, but most are navigating destinations of the heart. His songs are either beckoning the listener toward a way to feel more alive, or else marking a hole Wilcox doesn’t want to fall in again.
Wilcox explains, “I would definitely be lost without music. I wouldn’t have even known what to wish for. But now, after all these years, the bliss I glimpsed only in song is within reach most of the time. I am grateful for all the eye opening and heart opening experiences, but this is not the typical music business success story. Many years ago, when someone asked me where I wanted my music to be in ten years, I put my hand on my heart and said: ‘Right here.’
“I have always sung the songs that kept me sane. I love music that moves me, but only if it moves me forward. I don’t want to sing songs that stay stuck in the same old illusions that fooled me before. I trust that when a song really moves me, it moves me because it is coming from a place I am going. Each song is like a postcard that inspires me to travel, but instead of just a snapshot of a place, it’s a preview of a whole different way of seeing. Through songs, I get to know who I might become, because I experience a joy and peace and gratitude that I know are possible; all I have to do is go the distance.”
The legendary David Wilcox will close Friday night’s show on the Main Stage on June 8, at 9 p.m. on Reservoir Hill.
Pagosa Folk ‘N Bluegrass is currently seeking a few more volunteers to work a six-hour shift during the three-day weekend. Volunteers will earn a three-day festival ticket. If you are interested in volunteering, please e-mail Dan at email@example.com or call 731-5582.
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.