Ever since John Prine's final encore at the historic 20th Annual Folks Festival last August, one question has loomed large over Planet Bluegrass: how will the 21st Folks match the magic of sweet Colorado sunshine, The Swell Season and Ani DiFranco, and the spiritual culmination of 20 years of songs and stories?
We have begun to sketch out part of the answer... There will be music – a cappella, acoustic stringbands, solo singer-songwriters, dynamic folk-rock bands. They will open their souls to a sea of tarps and river tubers. We will laugh and dance, cry and sing...
A few weeks ago, we began introducing a few of the 2011 artists on Facebook and our Festivarian Forum. Today, we're excited to announce the first 8 performers who will define our weekend of songs, stories and summertime along the St. Vrain River at the 21st Annual Rocky Mountain Folks Festival (Aug 19-21)...
• Brandi Carlile • Sweet Honey in the Rock • Josh Ritter & the Royal City Band • Carolina Chocolate Drops • Mary Gauthier • Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion • Dan Mangan • Megan Burtt • many, many more still to be announced...
These artists embody the breadth and depth that has marked our "summit on the song" for twenty years – from Sweet Honey in the Rock's inspiring a cappella exploration of the African-American musical legacy (making their first Folks Festival performance since 1998) to Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion's sweet harmonies carrying-on the next generation of one of America's first families of song.
All weekend our tarps will visit new emotional spaces – from the massive (Brandi Carlile's soaring voice leaving a lasting imprint on the cliffs of the Lyons Valley) to the intimate (Mary Gauthier emptying her generous musical heart).
Josh Ritter and his band share their infectious joy as they draw from Josh's rich catalog of songs; Carolina Chocolate Drops awe their third Planet Bluegrass festival with their high-energy stringband music of the Carolina Piedmont; Dan Mangan leads his dynamic band in a passionate set of Canadian indie-folk; and one of Colorado's powerful young talents Megan Burtt makes her Folks debut after winning last year's Songwriter Showcase.
We'll be adding many more artists in the coming weeks, leading up to the complete single-day lineup (and the release of single-day tickets) this Spring. Stay tuned: we're positively giddy over some of these upcoming announcements.
Three-day passes (including a limited number of early-bird tickets – a $30 discount!) and camping are available now at shop.bluegrass.com or 800-624-2422. As always, Planet Bluegrass charges no handling fees, and all Folks Festival tickets are fully refundable when returned by July 15.
We've added 3 more reasons to join us in Lyons for the Spring Wildflower Concert Series... On Friday, March 25, Georgia's single-microphone bluegrass provocateurs the Packway Handle Band return to the Wildflower. Then 2 weeks later (Friday, April 8) one of the most revered bassists in bluegrass Missy Raines brings her progressive band The New Hip to Lyons for a set of deft vocal change-ups and musically witty instrumentals.
Finally, we close our Spring series with Greensky Bluegrass (Friday, May 6). With celebrated main stage performances at Telluride Bluegrass ('07 and '09) and RockyGrass ('10), along with a very sold-out Wildflower show in '09, the energy from this intimate Wildflower show will carry us right into festival season.
Tickets for all shows in the Spring Wildflower Concert Series are available now at shop.bluegrass.com or 800-624-2422. Stay up-to-date on upcoming Wildflower shows by joining our "Words from the Wildflower" email newsletter.
As we warned in our last email, The Song School (Aug 14-18) is now completely sold-out. (Sigh.) For the lucky few who enrolled in our week-long exploration of songwriting craft and inspiration, watch for the initial faculty listing later this week. It'll include: Dr. Ysaye Barnwell (from Sweet Honey in the Rock), Mary Gauthier, Sarah Lee Guthrie, Johnny Irion, and many more.
Just as the early-bird passes for both RockyGrass and Telluride Bluegrass sold-out in record time, so we expect the discounted early-bird Folks Festival tickets to do the same. Spread the word to your Festivarian family: that $30 savings will go a long way in buying a few new CDs, a new set of guitar strings, and a colorful calendar to begin counting down the days to August 19-21.
Though we have now begun our sketch of the 2011 Folks Festival, the magic won't truly be known until Folks Festivarians return to Lyons this August – eager to share their songs and stories, rekindle friendships, plant their chairs in the St. Vrain, and create their own Folks experience. It's time to begin your sketch; it's time to envision your place in the magic of the 21st Folks.
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