Each year I block off the weekend of the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival over at Planet Bluegrass. This is one of my favorite music events of the year with three days of non-stop music from 11:00am until the last set winds down at 10:30pm.
The folks over at Planet Bluegrass never disappoint with the lineup. There are the tried and trues that play late in the day and draw the crowds and there are the bands I've yet to discover. The lineup this year stuck to the aforementioned formula...crowd drawers and new discoveries.
This year was an amazing blend of the must sees:
- Don McLean - Who got the entire crowd on their feet to sing and dance to a ~20 minute rendition of 'American Pie'under the stars. Never mind that there was a fallen climber rescue going on just across the creek (thankfully she got away with minor injuries).
- Madeleine Peyroux - Not your typical Folks Fest set. There was a moment of feeling like I was in some small cafe in Paris listening to a funky jazz artist.
- Brett Dennen - A discovery from a Folks Festival a few years back when he played an early afternoon set. He has since taken the main stage at Telluride Bluegrass and blew the crowd away this year with his full band during his Sunday early evening set.
Which leads me to the 'discoveries'. I've been going to the Folks Fest since 2001. Haven't missed a year yet, and don't plan to unless some amazing travel opportunity just gets in the way. Each year without fail there is a find. An act that shows up on the lineup that I've never heard, but just blows me away. And theirs is the CD I buy for the weekend. Yep, I just buy one for the entire weekend. Previous years finds have been the likes of Brett Dennen, Missy Higgins, The Waifs, and Darrell Scott to name a few. They have remained personal favorites and I have seen them all develop their sets and presence over the years. It is fun to witness in which direction the success takes them.
In the tarp line Friday morning, a conversation with a Bob Dylan fan (identified by his concert t-shirt) from Colorado Springs turned to who is the new must see act this year. We talked about Over the Rhine (who when all was said and done were my runner-up), Joe Pug, and Will Hoge. They were all awesome and worth putting on the rain gear for (which was done multiple times).
The Dylan fan told me about an act he heard about on NPR. They did a tour along the West Coast riding their bicycles. Kinda cool, huh? I was curious and marked them in the schedule as a 'don't miss'. Good thing, too. Turns out Blind Pilot, the band in question, was the hands down find of the weekend.
Now the tough part. Why were they the find of the weekend? In the moment, sitting in a sea of tarps with my festivarian glow I was wowed by how tight the band played and the use of 'not everyday instruments' such as the trumpet, harmophone, xylophone, full size base, and non-bluegrass banjo. Their music filled the senses in a good way. It may sound fluffy, but that it is. I like the feeling their music evokes for me. And, that feeling keeps coming each time I listen to their CD. Over and over and over.
You can get yourself a dose of it here.