Folks Fest Day 1
August 17, 2012
Folks Fest Day 1
The folks at Planet Bluegrass have some interesting ways to guarantee fairness when it comes to entry in to their festivals and the Rocky Mountain Folks Fest is no exception. Each night before the festival performances, a huge line forms sometime before midnight and at some point between midnight and three AM, staff comes along the line and hands out randomly ordered numbers which represent a number in line. The next morning prior to the gates opening at ten AM, a line is formed in numerical order using the numbers received the previous night and people are let on to the grounds in that order.
We had the good fortune of having both strength in numbers (to receive multiple chances to get a coveted low number) and of having the number distribution come early on the first night, just after midnight and our group secured a nice low number. When the gates opened and the race was on to secure great spots, we were able to score a coveted riverside location up front of the pop-up area as well as a nice tarp front and center of the stage- a double score.
This allowed us flexibility to watch the show from the sunny front or relax along the cool banks of the St. Vrain river where the kids (and adults) in our group spent much of the day. Kathy even found a nice spot to hang a hammock. It was just about a perfect start.
Michael & Holly Near
Day one of the festival was the one that I was most looking forward to as some of my favorite artists were on tap to perform. The morning entertainment began with the annual Songwriters Showcase in which some of the top songwriters who had been on site for the entire previous week attending Song School were given their moment on the main stage. This set was followed by the young man who won the Songwriting competition last year, Caleb Hawley who as part of his prize was given the first solo set the following year. Not a bad gig and a nice way to ease in to a weekend of music and fun.
Justin Townes Earle
The weather was about perfect for the festival as performers took to the main stage during the afternoon and early evening under sunny skies with nice warmth and low humidity- a blessing for us Key West folk. Holly Near, a folkie legend from the early seventies played next followed soon after by a wonderful set from the talented Justin Townes Earle. The son of the famed Steve Earle, Justin carved his own fantastic niche with a great performance. I was not all that familiar with his work and loved it.
On the other hand I was really familiar with the music of the final three performers of Friday evening and it was their sets that I was most looking forward to over the entire weekend. First up was Dawes, the LA band that I had seen exactly two weeks earlier performing at Lollapalooza in Chicago. This set was much more subdued and quiet, no doubt owing in large measure to the relaxed crowd on hand here compared to the frenzy of Lollapalooza. It was still a wonderful and enjoyable set.
Trina & Jill
However the next act, another of my favorites, Kathleen Edwards delivered what might have been the most powerful and emotional set of the weekend as she covered much of the emotional ground of her latest release Voyager. Emotions definitely got the better of her as she cried while reminiscing about her last visit to Folks Fest from a few years ago and all that has happened in her personal life since that time. The emotion carried over into a spectacular performance that included almost all of my favorites of her songs.
The night was closed out by yet another phenomenal performance this one by Sam Beam, aka Iron & Wine, who performed both a solo acoustic set as well as a set backed by members of his band. Beam has one of the most interesting and defining voices of the modern indie-folk rock scene and his set was a perfect way to close out a fairly spectacular first day at Folks Fest.