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Mountain Heart, Sierra Hull to close out Folk ‘N Bluegrass

Well, folks, there is only one more week until the Fifth Annual Pagosa Folk ‘N Bluegrass opens on Friday, June 8!

No doubt, there will be a few dozen avid campers in line waiting for the magical moment at 11 a.m. that day, when the beautiful campground opens on Reservoir Hill.

This year marks the festival’s expansion to three days as music gets underway on the main stage at 5 p.m. on Friday evening. The 2012 musical lineup represents this festival’s most diverse to date, with 14 bands that play such a wide variety of genres, it’s impossible to even describe them all in one sentence. Luckily, the Internet is a wonderful invention and provides curious “surfers” the opportunity to listen to all of this year’s artists before the big event. Performers this year are Jimmy LaFave, David Wilcox, Bearfoot, SHEL, Elephant Revival, The Deadly Gentlemen, Larkin Poe, Cahalen Morrison & Eli West, the Phoebe Hunt Project, Lake Street Dive, Jayme Stone’s Room of Wonders, Finnders & Youngberg and this week’s bands: Mountain Heart and Sierra Hull & Highway 111. Links to all of the festival artists’ web sites can be found at www.folkwest.com.

Mountain Heart has been fearlessly revolutionizing the way acoustic music is presented and played. The band’s name has been synonymous with cutting edge excellence in acoustic music circles since the group’s creation in 1999. Widely known throughout the music industry for continually redefining the boundaries of acoustic music, Mountain Heart has gained legions of loyal fans both as a result of its members’ superlative musicianship and, more notably, their incomparably exciting live performances. The band is Josh Shilling on vocals and guitar, Jim VanCleve on fiddle, Barry Abernathy on banjo, Jason Moore on bass, Aaron Ramsey on mandolin and Dobro and Jake Stargel on guitar.

As one of the most highly awarded ensembles ever assembled, Mountain Heart, or members of the band, have either won or been nominated for Grammys, ACM, CMA and multiple IBMA Awards. They have appeared on the revered stage of the Grand Ole Opry in excess of 125 times and have shared the stage with acts ranging from Montgomery Gentry, Merle Haggard, George Jones and Brad Paisley, to Alison Krauss, Tony Rice, The Avett Brothers, Levon Helm, John Fogerty and Patty Loveless.

Mountain Heart’s musical virtuosity, unmatched energy and keen sense of entertainment dynamics have helped them to forge a highly unique sound and stage show, which appeal to an incredibly wide variety of musical tastes. From large outdoor folk music and bluegrass festivals to sold-out arena shows opening for Southern Rock icons Lynyrd Skynyrd, to co-headlining concerts with the acoustic guitar legend Tony Rice, Mountain Heart always makes an undeniable connection to the audience, leaving them on their feet.

This rare combination of abilities makes Mountain Heart one of the most versatile acts ever assembled. This year will see Mountain Heart booked to play some of the most prestigious outdoor music festivals in the nation, as well as theaters and clubs as they tour in support of their seventh album, “That Just Happened”. They’ll be making a tour stop at Pagosa Folk ‘N Bluegrass to close the show on Saturday, June 9 at 7 p.m.

Boundaries — age, genre or otherwise — don’t hamper an artist like Sierra Hull. At the ripe old age of 19, she’s already released two CDs and graduated from the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, which she attended on a Presidential Scholarship (the first bluegrass musician to have been awarded that honor).

And she’s already earned considerable respect in the bluegrass world; the IBMA’s voting members having nominated her for five awards over three years, and there’s a good chance she’ll be the first woman to win the mandolin category. At age 11, Alison Krauss called her with an invitation to the Opry stage. As a player, a singer and a songwriter, Sierra has remarkable range, as well as the potential to win over ears unfamiliar with Bill Monroe and give performances of broad cultural importance, as she’s done at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center and the National Prayer Breakfast. But if ever the “child prodigy” label did Sierra justice, its usefulness has completely fallen away and a distinctive new identity has emerged. What you hear on her latest release, “Daybreak,” is one of bluegrass’s few full-fledged virtuosic instrumentalist-singer-songwriters — one who’s gracefully grown into her gifts. While her mandolin playing has always possessed clarity and fleet-fingered precision, on this CD Sierra attacks her solos with newfound spontaneity and depth of feeling; she calls it “playing with a point to prove.” Her singing—always straight and true—has more heartfelt power behind it than ever before. “Daybreak” is certainly a noteworthy arrival, but you can’t help but feel it’s also just the beginning.

Sierra Hull and Highway 111 will open for Mountain Heart, heating up the Main Stage at 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 9.

Most of the volunteer slots have been filled, but we are still looking for a few alternates that could substitute in the case of last minute cancellations. If we need your services, you will earn a three-day festival admission.

Everything you need to know about Pagosa Folk ‘N Bluegrass can be found online at www.folkwest.com — schedules, ticket prices, performer information, what you can and can’t bring to the festival… you get the idea. If you’d like to purchase tickets, you can order online at the same website, or call (877) 472-4672.

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