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By Crista Munro
Special to The PREVIEW
I’m not quite sure where this summer has gone, but if you know, could you please tell me?
Believe it or not, we are just three weeks away from the start of the 18th annual Four Corners Folk Festival, taking place Aug. 30-Sept. 1 on Reservoir Hill in downtown Pagosa Springs.
This year’s amazing lineup of musicians includes the legendary John Hiatt and the Combo, Natalie MacMaster, The Wood Brothers, Elephant Revival, Jimmy LaFave, Slaid Cleaves, Aoife O’Donovan Band, Sarah Siskind and Travis Book, John Fullbright, New Country Rehab, Rose’s Pawn Shop, Halden Wofford and the Hi-Beams, The Lone Bellow, The Giving Tree Band and this week’s two featured artists, Darrell Scott and Baskery.
An exciting addition to the music this year is the Preview in the Park concert, happening on Thursday, Aug. 29, at 5 p.m. in Town Park. Admission is free, and two festival bands — Halden Wofford and the Hi-Beams and New Country Rehab — will entertain on the gazebo stage until 8 p.m. that evening. The event will be weather dependent, so if rain is forecast, it will be cancelled. The Chamber of Commerce will serve up food, and beer and wine will be available for purchase. On Friday, the festivities will move up to Reservoir Hill when the main stage music gets underway.
Veteran festival performer Darrell Scott was baptized in country music — the old country music of cheating, drinking, working, longing- pre-Garth, pre-video, pre-urban-cowboy country music — the voice of working people, people of the land. Darrell’s own people came from Kentucky: poor tobacco farmers and Harlan County coal miners, descendants of Scots and Irish who brought their music with them. Darrell’s latest album, Long Ride Home, is country music how he remembers it from his childhood, with some of the players that made the very music that was both lifting and breaking his heart as a kid. Darrell finds that, while the country music industry has changed, country and working people have not changed so much; they still love real country music when they hear it.
Darrell is a fixture at FolkWest festivals, headlining Pagosa Folk ‘N Bluegrass once and appearing numerous times in the Four Corners Folk Festival lineup with his own band, with Tim O’Brien and as part of the Sam Bush Band way back in 2001.
It has long been clear to us that Darrell Scott is one of the most prolific and talented songwriters of modern Americana and alt-country music, and judging by the volume of awards he has amassed during his career, it is clear to those in the music industry as well. Here are just a few highlights: Independent Music Award Best Country Album of 2011 — “A Crooked Road;” 2011 Grammy Nomination for Best Country Instrumental Performance — “Willow Creek;” International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Nomination — 2010 Recorded Event of the Year — “Bleeding for a Little Peace of Mind” with Blue Highway; American Songwriter Top 25 Songs from the last 25 Years — No. 6: “It’s A Great Day To Be Alive” (2009); Americana Award for 2007 Song of the Year — “Hank William’s Ghost;” Independent Music Award for 2005 Album of the Year — Theatre of the Unheard; Grammy Nomination for Best Country Song 2003 — “Long Time Gone” (recorded by the Dixie Chicks); Rolling Stone Magazine 2003 Critics Top Albums — “Theatre of the Unheard;” IBMA Song of the Year Nominee — 2002, 2003; ASCAP’s 2002 Songwriter of the Year; Grammy Nomination for Best Country Instrumental Performance 2001 — “The Second Mouse” (with Tim O’Brien); NSAI 2001 Songwriter of the Year
While no one performs Darrell’s songs as well as Darrell, other artists have recorded them over the years with highly successful outcomes, among them the Dixie Chicks, Keb’ Mo’, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, Guy Clark, Kathy Mattea; Brad Paisley, Martina McBride, Jonell Mosser, Garth Brooks, Travis Tritt, Sara Evans, Suzy Bogguss, Patty Loveless, Darryl Worley and Trace Adkins.
After a summer spent touring as part of Robert Plant’s Band of Joy in 2012, Darrell and his band are back on the road this year and will close Friday’s main stage show at the Four Corners Folk Festival, with a 7 p.m. set.
Baskery is a band built on what three people can do together. The music is not to be branded as country or bluegrass just from looking at the instruments — Baskery is not bound by any genre and its members want to keep it that way.
The three sisters of Baskery can’t recall when or why they started playing, it has always just been there, as an occupation, as a distraction and mostly, as a conviction, “Performing live has become the most natural thing to us.” It’s all there in their live act, because it is real.
In their late teens, the sisters joined forces with their dad, who for decades was a one-man-band playing old blues and country songs at bars and clubs for a living. They describe their introduction to the music business in a quite unglamorous way, “We played cover songs for drunken people, but we never played songs we didn’t like just to please the crowd. Throwing ourselves out there was probably the best education we could have gotten; it gave us a collective backbone.”
Along with the love for roots music and Americana came the urge to break the rules of this traditional music. Baskery is all about turning the music on its head, blending the straightforwardness of punk with the subtlety of singer/songwriting. The band has been compared to everything from Abba to Led Zeppelin and Motörhead.
Baskery has released two full length albums and in 2011 they received the Stim Scholarship for their songwriting skills. Their debut album “Fall Among Thieves” (2008) was recorded the old-school way — completely live in the studio — and it was all about finding that one take and banning any overdubs. The 10 songs on “New Friends” (2011) were written and partly recorded on tour, which was the only chance for the band to make an album. “There simply weren’t any gaps in the tour schedule, so we had to bring some equipment on the road. You’d be surprised if you knew how many good sounding motel rooms there are out there.”
Both albums were acknowledged and well received by the music press all over Europe. The band recently released their third full length album, teaming up with Long Beach-based producer Matt Wignall in Berlin in the hope of together finding the right sounds and squeezing out every last drop of the potential held in the new songs.
Baskery is an extraordinary live act and the band has taken on some of the most prestigious stages in the world. The live show is high octane and energetic, yet dynamic and personal. There’s always a buzz going on around this trio from Stockholm.
2013 will again find the sisters touring across the globe. The band was featured at this year’s SXSW conference in Austin, Texas, and at the North American Folk Alliance Conference in Toronto, where I was lucky enough to catch their set.
But really, the luck that day was on the side of the Four Corners Folk Festival audience who, as a result, will now get to experience this powerful trio on Reservoir Hill on Saturday, Aug. 31, at 4 p.m. and on the late night stage on Friday, Aug. 30, at 10:15 p.m.
The Four Corners Folk Festival is supported in part by a grant from Colorado Creative Industries. There are still a handful of volunteer positions left at the festival; if you work for a few hours you earn free admission to the festival for the entire weekend; call the number below if interested. For tickets or additional information about this year’s Four Corners Folk Festival, including schedules, performer web links and more, visit www.folkwest.com or call 731-5582.