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The 19th annual Four Corners Folk Festival is right around the corner. The event kicks off next Friday, Aug. 29, and runs through Sunday, Aug. 31, on Reservoir Hill in downtown Pagosa Springs. The world-class lineup of musicians attracts thousands of music lovers from all over the country to enjoy a weekend full of live performances, workshops, kids’ activities and campfire jam sessions.
This year’s performers include the Sam Bush Band, Tim O’Brien and Darrell Scott, Elephant Revival, Sarah Jarosz, Baskery, Caravan of Thieves, Sunliner, Paper Bird, Heather Maloney/Darlingside, Beth Wood, Steep Ravine, Haas Kowert Tice, Gordie MacKeeman and His Rhythm Boys and this week’s featured performers: Marley’s Ghost, Shook Twins and The Oh Hellos.
As the L.A. Weekly aptly described Marley’s Ghost, “This West Coast group deftly dashes across decades of American music to create a sound that’s steeped in tradition but never bogged down by traditionalism.”
Marley’s Ghost is an eclectic aggregation composed of singer/multi-instrumentalists Dan Wheetman, Jon Wilcox, Mike Phelan, Ed Littlefield Jr. and Jerry Fletcher. This band can sing and play anything with spot-on feel, from roots to rock, blues to bluegrass, gospel to stone country, which is what they’ve been doing to the ongoing delight of a fervent cult that includes many of their fellow musicians. Throughout their first quarter century as a working unit, their trademark multi-part harmonies never cease to captivate, whether on record or in live performance.
The band recently celebrated its 25th anniversary with the scintillating tour de force “Jubilee.” The album, produced by the late and legendary Cowboy Jack Clement and recorded at Nashville’s venerable Sound Emporium that Clement built, features guest performances from artists Emmylou Harris, John Prine, Old Crow Medicine Show, Marty Stuart and Larry Campbell.
Campbell, a master musician of all things stringed, three-time Grammy-winning producer, and Americana Music Association Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, was so impressed with the band during his session work on “Jubilee,” that he signed on to produce its follow-up album. That effort, much of which was recorded at the venerable Levon Helm Studios in Woodstock, N.Y., turned out to be a perfect match of artist and producer and will hit the streets later this year.
Also on board for 2014, Marley’s Ghost is launching “Praying for Rain: The Dust Bowl and Beyond,” a multimedia theatrical performance piece about one of the worst environmental disasters of the 20th century, the toll it took upon the land and those wed to it, and its echoes as a warning about our own impact on today’s environment. Fueled by the band’s deep musical roots, narrative prowess, and passion for history, “Praying for Rain” promises a thoughtful and resonant evening of theater and song.
Marley’s Ghost has a main stage set on Sunday, Aug. 31, at 12:30 p.m.
Born and raised in Sandpoint, Idaho, Shook Twins are an indie folk-pop band now hailing from coniferous forested Portland, Ore. Identical twins Katelyn and Laurie Shook, and Kyle Volkman and Niko Daoussis form the core quartet. Central elements of the Shook Twins’ sound are a wide range of instrumentation, including banjo, guitar, electric and upright bass, mandolin, electric guitar, electronic drums, face drum (beatbox), glockenspiel, ukulele, banjo drumming and their signature golden egg. Beautiful twin harmonies, layered upon acoustic and electric instrumentation coupled with Laurie’s inventive use of percussive and ambient vocal loops, and Katelyn’s repurposed telephone microphone, set their sound apart, creating a unique and eccentric blend of folk, roots, groove and soul.
The twins are the main songwriters, but they have recently started backing up band members Daoussis (Cyber Camel) and Anna Tivel (Anna and the Underbelly) and adding those players’ stunning songs to the mix.
Each of the Shook Twins song tells a story, distinctive, sharp, genuine and well, sometimes quirky. Drawing from their life experience, select subjects include being potters’ daughters, imagined superpowers and a chicken named “Rose” they befriended. Shook Twins also pull out unexpected takes on classic hits, retellings of their musician friends’ songs, heartfelt ballads and rhythm-driven dance numbers.
After releasing their first album, “You Can Have the Rest,” the twin sisters moved to Portland in December 2009, conceptualizing their 2011 release “Window” (featuring Bonnie Paine and Bridget Law of Elephant Revival). Both those albums have received favorable reviews and extensive radio airplay resulting in a busy tour schedule and an ever-growing fanbase, as well as kudos from many major musicians. Their latest release, “What We Do,” has garnered praise from publications like USA Today and Acoustic Songwriter magazine.
Shook Twins have shared the stage with artists including Ryan Adams, David Grisman, Mason Jennings, Blizten Trapper, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Sarah Jarosz, Laura Veirs, The FruitBats, Jonatha Brooke, JJ Grey and MoFro, The Indigo Girls, Crooked Still, Jason Webley, The BoDeans, Elephant Revival, The Head and The Heart, The Lumineers and many more. Eclectic, amusing and whimsical, Shook Twins’ laid-back and fun stage presence draws the listener in, allowing them to take the audience away on the adventure that is their live show.
Shook Twins perform on the main stage on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. and again on the late night stage Saturday evening at approximately 11 p.m.
The Oh Hellos
“Six best sets from Newport Newbies: Oh Hellos: Holy moly! This eclectic folk collective from Texas, led by siblings Tyler and Maggie Heath, was 13 members strong, creating a mighty wall of sound that had an overflow crowd dancing, moving and clapping along. Energetic and vibrant, fueled by two drummers, accordion, fiddle, banjo, five or six backing singers and heaven knows what else, this outfit seemed generally shocked by the loud ovation that followed every song.”— Boston Herald.
“Folk audiences were blown away early by the magic of The Oh Hellos — who offered energy, instrumentation and harmonies that reminded this writer of folk alumnus Typhoon, Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros, Hey Marseilles and The Lumineers. The band whipped the energy of the Quad Stage into a frothy mix of sunshine and joy and before you knew it, Saturday had truly begun in earnest. For me, this set was every bit as exciting and honest as the first time I saw Trampled By Turtles play in Newport … There’s magic here to spare!” — RSLBlog.
Hot on the heels of a successful July headlining tour that brought The Oh Hellos to their critically acclaimed debut Newport Folk Festival performance, the San Marcos, Texas-based band is showing no sign of slowing down.
Beginning Aug. 20, the band embarked on a 19-city tour which includes multiple dates supporting NEEDTOBREATHE, and a visit to Colorado for a headlining show at The Boulder Theater and this performance at the Four Corners Folk Festival.
Maggie and Tyler Heath, the core of The Oh Hellos, are sibling composers whose talents and voices have acted as magnets, drawing a group of as many as 13 musicians in to join them in crafting an extraordinary sound. The result is a show that is at one moment intimate, the next explosive and triumphant, leaving fans in breathless bliss.
The Oh Hellos have achieved the kind of independent success most artists dream of, with a dedicated fan base that has grown through word of mouth discovery. The band has eschewed attention from the conventional music industry in favor of an autonomous approach, self producing and releasing their records and allowing their powerful brand of folk rock and unforgettable concerts to speak for themselves. Their single “Hello My Old Heart” became an organic hit, finding its way to the top of the charts at key radio stations across the country.
The Oh Hellos will open for the headliner on Sunday, Aug. 31, at 5:30 p.m. on the festival’s main stage.
Learn more about the Four Corners Folk Festival, including the full schedule, in-depth lineup and performance information and how to get tickets online at www.folkwest.com. Tickets are available by phone at 731-5582.
Band bio information provided by Shook Twins, Marley’s Ghost and The Oh Hellos.