"I believe that listening and love are synonyms; they're the same thing." So shared Mary Gauthier with her wonderfully honest and emotional Song School class yesterday afternoon. More than any week of the year, this week is about listening and sharing, and by extension: love.
As festivarians, we gather together for three weekends a year - basking in virtuosic improvisations, rich woody acoustic tones, soulful voices, and spectacular settings. But at Folks Fest, more than any other time, we fall in love with songs. We listen to each other with a heightened awareness of our community and our family. And for three magical days we write the final chapter in our own story of Summer 2009.
The 19th Annual Rocky Mountain Folks Festival (Aug 14-16) begins tomorrow.
As seasoned festivarians we probably don't need to tell you that Gillian Welch, Susan Tedeschi, Brett Dennen, Dougie MacLean, Rufus Wainwright (whom Elton John calls "the greatest songwriter on the planet") and many others will be with us in Lyons all weekend.
(In case you've missed a few announcements over the past few months,
here's the complete main stage lineup:
Gillian Welch * Rufus Wainwright * Susan Tedeschi * Don McLean * Madeleine Peyroux * Brett Dennen * M. Ward (solo) * Dougie MacLean * Over the Rhine * Peter Himmelman * Mary Gauthier * JJ Grey & Mofro * Will Hoge * Blind Pilot * Ben Sollee * The Drepung Monks * Mia Dyson * Vance Gilbert * Joe Pug * Amy Speace * Chuck E. Costa)
We probably don't need to paint another picture of an idyllic Colorado summer day along the river - hanging out on a tarp with friends under the Cottonwoods listening to Ben Sollee and Over the Rhine croon their way into our hearts. Nor do we need to remind you that Folks Festival is our most relaxed, family-friendly festival - with the St. Vrain River at a gentle level for the kids to splash and float, and for their parents to set their camp chairs right in the water with a view to the stage.
But we should tell you that tickets (three-day passes and single-day tickets), and camping (including those coveted on-site spots) are still available. You can purchase them - thru Thursday night - online at shop.bluegrass.com or 800-624-2422. Then beginning Friday morning tickets will only be available at the festival box office - cash or credit card. But don't let that scare you, tickets will be available all weekend.
If you're not camping with us, trust us when we say that every act this weekend is essential. Get up early and make your way to Lyons for the Songwriter Showcase on Friday morning; check out wonderful singer-songwriters Chuck E. Costa, Amy Speace, and Joe Pug on Saturday; and by all means do not miss the colorful beauty and stirring throat chanting of the Drepung Monks on Sunday - a spiritual thrill of a lifetime. Check out the complete daily schedule at bluegrass.com.
As promised, the complete schedule of performances in the Wildflower Pavilion is now posted at bluegrass.com. Every day our gorgeous "cathedral of bluegrass" hosts intimate performances (Ellis, Steve Seskin, Rebecca Folsom, Maggie Simpson), workshops (Paul Reisler, the music of Iraq), and numerous in-the-round sessions where songwriters share their stories and songs with each other - and with us. This year we're featuring a special in-the-round set from 3 of Denver's most-acclaimed indie songwriters: Laura Goldhamer, Joshua Novak, and Rachael Pollard.
Need something to help you get through this final day before Folks Fest? Check out the interview with the legendary Don McLean on DenverPost.com or tune in to his live interview on 850KOA at 5pm today. Read in the Marquee Magazine why Sunday's solo set from M. Ward will be such a treat. Or hear Madeleine Peyroux describe her Friday night set on BlogCritics.org: "We'll have a rollicking good time and fall in love, with something or someone, in the process."
If you're a Folks Fest veteran, consider sharing the experience with someone new. Forward this email, knock on a neighbor's door, or surprise a friend with a day in Lyons. Many a lifelong friendship has been birthed at Folks Fest. Pack a larger picnic, bring along an extra tarp, and fill your car full of grinning new festivarians.
But if you can't be with us this weekend, take a few minutes to sing a song for someone you love. Then listen to them as they do the same. Go ahead and strum a few chords, gather some friends and family on a tarp in the backyard, and know that all of us in Lyons will be missing you.
The Folks on Planet Bluegrass