Let the festing begin
Pagosa Folk N' Bluegrass kicks off festival season in SWCO

Let the festing begin

Reservoir Hill will be alive with the sound of music June 9-11./ Courtesy photo

Telegraph staff - 06/01/2023

It’s time to grab your camp chair and dancing Chacos.  Festival season in Southwest Colorado hits the ground running June 9-11 as the Pagosa Folk N’ Bluegrass returns for its 16th year on Reservoir Hill in Pagosa Springs. Sixteen acts in the bluegrass, folk, R&B and Native American genres will perform over the course of the weekend, including several that have received multiple International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) awards.

“We are excited to welcome back festivarians to Reservoir Hill for our June bluegrass and folk festival,” Tami Graham, Executive Director of KSUT, which puts on the festival, said. “The lineup reflects both the festival’s long history and our diverse on-air programming.”

Headliners for this year’s festival include Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley, Sister Sadie, Becky Buller and the Larry Keel Experience. The lineup also includes old favorites like FY5 alongside up-and-coming artists like Caleb Caudle, Full Cord and Sihasin, an acclaimed Diné duo with punk rock roots that appeared at last summer’s Telluride Bluegrass Festival. The Flagstaff-based group incorporates traditional Diné healing and hoop dancing into their rhythm-heavy, drums-and-bass music.

“We are proud of our roots as one of the nation’s oldest tribal radio stations, and we’re committed to presenting award-winning indigenous performers in a variety of genres,” KSUT Development and Music Director Chris Aaland said. 

• Ickes is a 15-time IBMA Dobro Player of the Year from the Bay Area who co-founded the highly influential bluegrass group Blue Highway. And Hensley, one of Nashville’s most sought-after session musicians, he has been called “Nashville’s hottest young player” by Acoustic Guitar magazine. As a duo, Ickes and Hensley have released four albums that weave bluegrass, country, blues and rock & roll. Their latest album, “Living in a Song,” has charted highly in national bluegrass, Americana and alternative country music polls.

• Sister Sadie won three straight IBMA Vocal Group of the Year awards from 2019-21 – no small feat in a genre dominated by male pickers and singers. The five women that make up the group – original members Deanie Richardson (fiddle) and Gina Britt (banjo & vocals) and newcomers Jaelee Roberts (guitar & vocals), Dani Flowers (guitar & vocals) and Maddie Dalton (upright bass & vocals) – have played the Grand Ole Opry, been featured in an exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame and continue to rack up awards, both as a group and individually.

• Becky Buller is a 10-time IBMA award recipient for her fiddle playing, singing and songwriting. In addition to her own award-winning albums, her songs have won Grammys for the Infamous Stringdusters and the Travelin’ McCourys. When not touring with the Becky Buller Band, she serves as a board member on IBMA and is heavily involved in music education.

• The Larry Keel Experience is led by its namesake, who is widely regarded as one of the most innovative flat pickers in the world. He has collaborating with musical innovators such as Tyler Childers, Billy Strings, Al DiMeola, Keller Williams, Sam Bush and the late Tony Rice. Keel has appeared on over 20 albums, 12 of which he produced. Alongside his wife, bassist Jenny Keel, and longtime mandolin player Jared Pool, the Experience is one of the most popular bands on the jam-grass circuit.

Other artists who will appear at Pagosa Folk N’ Bluegrass include Fireside Collective, Henhouse Prowlers, Stillhouse Junkies, Armchair Boogie, Full Cord, Phoebe Hunt, Leon Timbo, Sihasin, Caleb Caudle, FY5, The Bonnie & Taylor Sims Band (formerly known as Bonnie & The Clydes), and the Stone-Hall Trio.

Other festival happenings include a late-night stage, workshops, children’s tent, campground picks, food and craft vendors, and a beer garden featuring Breckenridge and Riff Raff beers and Talbott’s ciders and wines. As has become tradition, Saturday and Sunday mornings will kick off with Bubbles & Bluegrass, which pairs acoustic performances by FY5 (Saturday) and Bonnie & Taylor Sims (Sunday) with complimentary beverages in the Breckenridge beer garden.

Single-day, weekend and patron passes are on sale at www.ksutpresents.org, as are camping passes and a limited number of vehicle passes. ?