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By Crista Munro
Special to The PREVIEW
Time is running out on early-bird pricing for this year’s Pagosa Folk ‘N Bluegrass festival.
The event takes place June 7-9, and festival-goers have through Sunday, March 31, to pick up discounted tickets online or by phone.
This year’s lineup features headliners Band of Heathens, The Duhks and The Iguanas, also joined by Della Mae, the Black Lillies, Matt Flinner Trio, the Warren Hood Band, the Defibulators, The Haunted Windchimes, Taarka, Paper Bird, Corn Yeti, The New Shoots Trio, Expedition Quintet and this week’s featured bands: Front Country and Finnders & Youngberg.
This year will be Finnders & Youngberg’s third straight appearance at Folk ‘N Bluegrass and the third year they’ve been instructors for the Pagosa Bluegrass Jam Camp, which takes place on the hill just prior to the festival. This year’s dates are June 4-6.
Colorado’s Finnders & Youngberg proudly swim in the deep currents of American music — classic bluegrass, tried-and-true honky tonk, country swing and skillfully spun folk tales. While their sound evokes timelessness, it is a decidedly contemporary, well-traveled 21st century sensibility that informs their songwriting. Their tunes draw on the bumps, bruises and laugh lines earned when we find ourselves in the “bogs” of back roads, dive bars, and long, lonesome nights.
Musicians with a palpable sense of place, the members of Finnders & Youngberg (FY5) have all laid strong foundations as veterans of the vibrant Colorado Front Range acoustic music scene. Two-time MerleFest songwriting competition winner in both the gospel and bluegrass categories, Iowa native Mike Finders possesses an arresting and emotive stage presence. His finely-honed storytelling forms the bulk of the band’s cannon as the principal songwriter and guitarist for the band.
Erin Youngberg (“E”) provides a muscle-y bass and beautiful, worldwise vocals, while her husband Aaron Youngberg (“AA”) plays a mean banjo and seductive pedal steel. Both were founding members of the Hit & Run Bluegrass Band, which won the RockyGrass band competition in 2002 and Telluride in 2003. AA also is proud owner and chief engineer at Swingfingers Recording Studio in Fort Collins, while E has performed and recorded with Uncle Earl.
The group is rounded out by Rich Zimmerman on mandolin and Ryan Drickey on fiddle. Zimmerman was a founder of the innovative acoustic Boulder band Slipstream. Meanwhile Drickey’s chameleonic fiddling has earned him a RockyGrass fiddle competition win and marked him as a much sought after session player.
Onstage, the members of FY5 possess an undeniable chemistry and an energy that flows with might. Marked by an intimacy with the audience, their performances feature precision picking, soaring harmonies and joyful, energetic choreography centered around an old-school single microphone setup. The emotional richness of their music resonates throughout their stage show. Heartbreakers slip in between anthemic glass raisers. Driving tales of working men and women shimmy alongside wryly humorous numbers. Quick-witted stage banter keeps folks laughing. Tightly wound instrumental breakdowns keep dancers on their toes.
Finnders & Youngberg will play on the main stage on Friday, June 7 at 5 p.m.
Newcomer to the Pagosa festival scene, Front Country is the band that will be teaching the younger students at this year’s Pagosa Bluegrass Camp for Kids. After their RockyGrass band competition win in 2012, Front Country is ready for a busy year, with appearances at RockyGrass, Pagosa Folk n’ Bluegrass, and the CBA Father’s Day Fest already booked for the summer. The band released its first EP “This is Front Country” in February at the Great American Music Hall in their hometown of San Francisco.
Formed in 2011 as a collective of the Bay Area’s finest young acoustic talent, Adam Roszkiewicz, Jacob Groopman, Jordan Klein, Leif Karlstrom, Melody Walker and Zach Sharpe joined forces to play a monthly gig with friends in San Francisco’s Mission District. They quickly found a musical rapport that was open to challenging arrangements, unique covers and original songwriting. Their repertoire rapidly expanded, and in January of 2012, Front Country decided to take on a Bay Area bluegrass tradition and compete in the prestigious RockyGrass band competition later that summer. On July 29, 2012 Front Country became the second Northern California band in three years to win the title, earning a spot to perform on that festival’s main stage this July.
Front Country’s main stage set at Pagosa Folk ‘N Bluegrass is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 9.
Pagosa Folk ‘N Bluegrass is supported in part by a grant from Colorado Creative Industries. Tickets and additional information are available online at www.folkwest.com or by calling 731-5582.