DAY 2: The 25th Annual Rocky Mountain Folks Festival – Planet Bluegrass, Lyons Aug 19-21


:: Folks Festival ::

:: Planet Bluegrass, Lyons ::

August 20

Photos by Josh Elioseff

Words by Nichole Wagner

Saturday opened with the 2014 Songwriter Showcase winner, Connor Garvey.  He shared the stage with Chris Cunningham (of Storyhill), Shannon Wurst, and Caroline Spence (who won the 2013 Songwriter Showcase).  Sessions Americana piled around a pub table with a microphone, providing an intimate feel to their set of rock, Western swing, and roots music.

The Pine Hill Project (Lucy Kaplansky and Richard Shindell) swapped songs from their new CD while also covering Gillian Welch’s “Wichita,” Nick Cave’s “I Live on a Battlefield,” and Elizabeth and the Catapult’s “Open Book.”

Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers were Saturday’s first “reach” act, bringing some vintage rock sounds to the main stage. Donning a white jumper, Nicki and the band led the crowd through a rollicking hour and fifteen minutes that included “Mr. Saturday Night,” “Tragedy,” “Queen of the Rodeo,” “Check Your Head,” and a rousing rendition of “Somebody To Love” that even Grace Slick herself would have approved as an encore.

The rains came again during Martin Sexton’s soulful set but luckily with less force than on Friday.  He acknowledged that he was a “very grateful guy,” and like the expert performer that he is, he handled the weather situation beautifully by weaving references to the rain into tunes such as “Digging Me,” “Glory Bound,” and his encore “Purple Rain” while a gorgeous double-rainbow appeared overhead.

Long-time friends and Grammy winners Mary Chapin Carpenter and Shawn Colvin swapped hits, covers, and stories from their years as folk icons, opening with Donovan’s “Try and Catch the Wind” before “This Shirt.”  Shawn commented about how wonderful it was to “go deep” into Mary’s songs because “she can write fictional stories” whereas “I write break up songs.”  They shared harmonies on “One Cool Remove,” which was prefaced by a story about a dress Shawn wanted Mary to wear in the video.  “It was a little much,” she admitted, laughing.  A rendition of Bruce Springsteen’s “Tougher than the Rest” was followed by conversation about the car on the cover of Tunnel of Love until Shawn exclaimed, “Forget the car! How about him?!” They brought it back down for Crowded House’s “Four Seasons in One Day” and The Beatles’ “I’ll Be Back” before closing out with “I’d Rather Be in Colorado,” “Sunny Came Home” (which Steve Earle calls the “ultimate breakup song-a murder ballad”), “The Hard Way,” and “That’s the Way Love Goes.”

Jason Isbell closed out Saturday night with the final stop on his Something More Than Free tour, triumphant in the accolades the album has received but also ready to return home for a well-deserved break and the upcoming birth of his daughter.  Opening with “Palmetto Rose,” he and his band wound through a set of his military-themed tunes (“Decoration Day,” “Tour of Duty,”and “Dress Blues”) before bringing out an accordion because “they’re beautiful, they make you hungry and romantic”  to replace Amanda Shires’ fiddle-work on “Codeine.” Spreading the setlist largely between his most recent releases, Jason played “Cover Me Up,” “Traveling Alone,” and “Different Days” from Southeastern and “Speed Trap Town,” “The Life You Chose,” and “24 Frames” before “Outfit” from his Drive-By Truckers days.  As his set came to a close, he left the crowd rocking with “Super 8.”



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