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John Hiatt and The Combo, Natalie MacMaster headline festival

By Crista Munro
Special to The PREVIEW

Photo courtesy FolkWest John Hiatt and The Combo have been touring all summer and will be primed to close the show at the Four Corners Folk Festival on Saturday, Aug. 31, with a 7:30 p.m. main stage set.

Photo courtesy FolkWest
John Hiatt and The Combo have been touring all summer and will be primed to close the show at the Four Corners Folk Festival on Saturday, Aug. 31, with a 7:30 p.m. main stage set.

By the time you read this, more than likely the big lines of campers waiting across from Reservoir Hill since Tuesday have finally been admitted to Reservoir Hill for the 18th annual Four Corners Folk Festival.

And if you’re reading this on Thursday, Aug. 29, be sure to head down to Town Park tonight at 5 p.m. (weather permitting) to catch a free concert with two festival bands, Halden Wofford and the Hi-Beams and New Country Rehab.

2013 promises to be one of our best festivals yet, with an amazing and varied musical lineup including the Darrell Scott Band, The Wood Brothers, Jimmy LaFave, Elephant Revival, The Lone Bellow, Baskery, Slaid Cleaves, Aoife O’Donovan, John Fullbright, New Country Rehab, Halden Wofford and the Hi-Beams, Sunliner, The Giving Tree Band, Rose’s Pawn Shop, and the weekend’s headliners: John Hiatt and The Combo, and Natalie MacMaster.

Acclaimed musician and songwriter John Hiatt’s career has spanned more than 30 years and everyone — from Bob Dylan to Eric Clapton, BB King, Bonnie Raitt and Iggy Pop — has covered his work.

Hiatt began his solo career with the 1974 album “Hangin’ Around the Observatory.” His landmark 1987 release “Bring The Family,” which celebrated its 25th anniversary last year, was his first album to chart in the U.S. His album in 2000, “Crossing Muddy Waters,” was called, “The most natural and relaxed John Hiatt album in years,” by All Music Guide. In 2008, Hiatt released “Same Old Man,” was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and was honored by the Americana Music Association with its prestigious Lifetime Achievement in Songwriting Award. Critical acclaim continued for “The Open Road” (2010) with The Boston Herald praising, “Hiatt knocks together a rocking, full-throttle road record that in its tone, toughness and mix of blues, r and b and country harkens back to his landmark ‘Bring the Family,’” while the Associated Press proclaimed, “Hiatt remains at the top of his game,” in reference to “Dirty Jeans and Mudslide Hymns” (2011).

John Hiatt released his latest, “Mystic Pinball,” on both CD and limited edition 180-gram vinyl last fall via New West Records. Called ,“one of rock’s most astute singer-songwriters of the last 40 years” by the Los Angeles Times, Hiatt continues to write brilliant songs including “We’re Alright Now,” the first single from “Mystic Pinball,” which is described by The Huffington Post as, “… a hypnotic, energizing and inspirational anthem of rebirth and reassurance reminding us to once again, have a little faith in ourselves, each other and times to come.”

For “Mystic Pinball,” his 21st studio album, Hiatt turned to producer Kevin “Caveman” Shirley (Aerosmith, Iron Maiden, Joe Bonamassa). Shirley also produced Hiatt’s highly praised “Dirty Jeans And Mudslide Hymns,” which the New York Times declared was, “… his best since 1995.” Hiatt relies on the exceptional musical skills of Doug Lancio (electric guitar, mandolin, Dobro), Kenneth Blevins (drums and percussion) and Patrick O’Hearn  (bass) to play with him on the record. The album made it to No. 1 on the Americana Chart last October.

Hiatt and his band, The Combo, have gained a reputation for captivating crowds at their live shows as The Tennessean depicts: “He prowls the stage, delivering the bluesy stuff in a whiskey-burn howl, shouting the rock stuff and fronting a formidable band that can turn on a dime, from ballads to bombast.”

John Hiatt and The Combo have been touring all summer and will close the show on Saturday, Aug. 31, with a 7:30 p.m. main stage set.

Through and through, let there be no doubt: expert Juno Award-winning fiddler Natalie MacMaster is a Cape Breton girl.

Lest there be any reservation concerning this declaration, you’re invited to check out “Cape Breton Girl,” her 11th and latest collection of jubilant instrumental music that is beloved by audiences worldwide.

Over the past three decades, fiddler Natalie MacMaster has established herself as an electrifying performer all over the world, thrilling Carnegie Hall audiences and Massey Hall crowds; captivating radio audiences with multiple appearances on the CBC, Canada A.M. and Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion,” and warming TV viewers with guest spots on Christmas specials like Rita MacNeil’s Christmas and Holiday Festival On Ice with Olympic ice skaters Jamie Sale, David Pelletier, Kurt Browning and world champion Jeffrey Buttle.

MacMaster’s dedicated work ethic has helped her accomplish so much; professionally, she has amassed multiple gold albums, two Grammy nominations and one win (for her contribution to Yo Yo Ma’s “Songs Of Joy and Peace”); a Juno Award for Best Instrumental Album for “In My Hands;” eight Canadian Country Music Awards, 10 East Coast Music Awards, an honorary doctorate from St. Thomas University and honorary degrees from Niagara University, N.Y., Trent University and, most recently, the Arts and Letters Award from the Canadian Association of New York.

But, to Natalie MacMaster, her beloved family now shapes and informs her musicianship as much as the jigs, reels, air, waltzes, strathspeys, marches and traditional folk that feed her spiritual soul. Natalie married handsome fiddle phenomenon Donnell Leahy of Leahy in 2002.

“I am a mom now. I am a wife. Those things are my priorities in life, and I think people get a sense of that — of that part of who I am —  through my show.  But my music itself hasn’t changed.”

If anything, family has reinvigorated Natalie MacMaster’s commitment to the stage and her audience.

“I like being on stage even more,” she enthuses. “When I appear onstage, that’s my departure from Momhood, and I transform into Natalie MacMaster: the entertainer, the fiddler, the performer.  I relish that now more.”

Natalie is back for her third headliner appearance at the Four Corners Folk Festival with a 7 p.m. closing set on Sunday, Sept. 1.

If you are interested in learning about any last-minute volunteer opportunities with the festival, or would like tickets or additional information, call 731-5582. Complete festival information, including schedules, ticket prices, etc. can be found at www.folkwest.com.

The Four Corners Folk Festival is supported in part by a grant from Colorado Creative Industries.

This story was posted on August 29, 2013.