A week ago many of us were singing the bluest, most high lonesome note in bluegrass: the RockyGrass farewell. After 3 joyous days unearthing the ancient tones along the St. Vrain – through hot pickin', soulful singing, honest songwriting, and even humor (thanks, Steve Martin) – RockyGrass is now but a memory that will carry us through another 12 months. Thanks to everyone who made the memories of the 39th RockyGrass so magical.
If you were among this year's RockyGrass festivarians, we'd love to hear your thoughts in our online survey. Every year we closely examine every aspect of the festival and your feedback is an important part of that process. As a bonus: one randomly-chosen survey response will win a pair of 3-day passes for next year's RockyGrass.
We'll spend the next year reflecting on the many RockyGrass highlights: Del and Sam's epic stage-filling encores; the stirring RockyGrass return of Larry Sparks; Open Road's onstage marriage proposal; the musical sorbet of Mike and Caterina; the youthful edge of Della Mae and Joy Kills Sorrow; the inspiring virtuosity of Bryan, the Krugers, Psychograss; and so many others on the main stage, Wildflower, and campgrounds all festival-long. Check out a few festival reviews in the Denver Post, Bluegrass Blog, and Aurora Sentinel, and share your own highlights on Facebook and the Festivarian Forum.
Congratulations to this year's music contest winners – John Meek (dobro), Ian Walsh (fiddle), Dave Goldenberg (mandolin), Isaac Eicher (guitar), Steven Moore (banjo), and 2011 band contest winners: 23 String Band. The Kentucky quintet is the first act confirmed for the 40th Annual RockyGrass.
For the third consecutive year, Camp Zero Hero won the Sustainable Campsite Challenge, earning another pair of onsite camping passes for next year's festival. This camp continues to impress us with their passion for sustainability, educating much of the back campground about waste, reusability, and leave no trace camping ethics. Folks Fest campers: start planning now for your entry in the 4th Annual Campsite Challenge. We'll be selecting several winners each day.
Mark your calendar for the 40th RockyGrass – July 27-29, 2012. We'll be selling onsite camping and RockyGrass Academy spaces in an online lottery in November, followed by the general on-sale of all other RockyGrass tickets in early December. Watch for more specific dates and details early this fall.
The main stage schedule is now set for the 21st Annual Rocky Mountain Folks Festival (Aug 19-21). From closers Brandi Carlile; the trio of Bob Weir, Chris Robinson & Jackie Greene; and a special solo set from Jackson Browne; to the recently-announced Sunday morning set from the haunting New England singer/multi-instrumentalist Tim Eriksen – "Widely regarded as the best ballad singer of his generation" (BBC) – every Folks Fest set is essential listening, inspiring and nourishing.
We hope part of your Folks Festival planning included purchasing tickets, because the final few Friday single-day tickets sold-out last weekend – making the entire festival now sold-out. If you somehow missed out, have a look at the ticket board on our Festivarian Forum.
Or adjust your vacation schedule and join us for The Song School (August 14-18). Due to several last minute cancellations, we now have a handful of open spaces for our week-long exploration of the art, craft, business, and inspiration of songwriting, with more than 30 instructors, including Folks Festival performers Mary Gauthier, Dr. Ysaye Barnwell (of Sweet Honey in the Rock), Livingston Taylor, Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion, Anais Mitchell, and many others. Spaces may still be available at shop.bluegrass.com or 800-624-2422.
If you're looking for some new music to energize your week, check out the stream of songs from this year's 10 finalists in the Folks Festival Songwriter Showcase. Each of these singer-songwriters will be competing on the main stage on Friday morning, as well as sharing in-the-round sessions in the Wildflower on Saturday and Sunday.
As we did with RockyGrass, we're taking the next step in "Sustainable Festivation" by removing all landfill trash containers from inside the festival. Since all plates, cups, and utensils from festival vendors are compostable, nothing should have to end up in the landfill. So if you bring in non-compostable, non-recyclable trash, we ask that you pack it back out (our Sustainable Festivation Crewmembers will help direct you to appropriate receptacles).
Also, as sustainable festivarians traveling to the festival from outside Lyons, we encourage you to check out the new online carpool service Ridaroo. This free site helps connect festivarians with rides to the festival from around Colorado and beyond.
We're excited to announce the first 3 shows in the fall Wildflower Concert Series in our 300-seat Wildflower Pavilion on the Planet Bluegrass Ranch in Lyons. On Friday, September 9 we commemorate the 100th Birthday of the father of bluegrass Bill Monroe in an all-star evening featuring many of Colorado's top traditional bluegrass bands, including Long Road Home, Blue Canyon Boys, Mountain Holler, The Stanleytones, Pete & Joan Wernick, The Jaspers, and many more.
Then the following weekend (Saturday, September 17) we celebrate the final weekend of summer and the coming Autumnal Equinox with our 5th annual Mabon Celebration featuring Adam Aijala & Ben Kaufmann of Yonder Mountain String Band. We'll open the gates at 2pm for camping, hearty food and drink, Mabon revelry, and this special performance from 2 of our favorite musicians.
The series continues with the Celtic virtuosity of Solas (Friday, October 7) and several more shows to be announced in the coming weeks. Tickets are available now at shop.bluegrass.com or 800-624-2422.
In case you missed it... Telluride Bluegrass and Lyons were recently featured on NPR's All Things Considered. Meanwhile, the current issue of Rolling Stone includes a lengthy profile on Mumford & Sons at Telluride Bluegrass, and online magazine PopMatters has a very thoughtful (and thorough) 4-part review of this year's Telluride Bluegrass Festival.
If you haven't yet shared your thoughts on the 2011 Telluride Bluegrass Festival in our online survey, you have just another week or so. Remember: one lucky survey response will win a pair of passes for the 2012 festival.
We'll have more Folks Festival news to share in the coming days, including the Wildflower performance schedule, new family area additions, and more. It's been a magical festival season on Planet Bluegrass. We can't wait to share one final weekend of stories and songs with you.
The Folks on Planet Bluegrass