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Four Corners Folk Fest to offer workshops, intimate performances on La Plata Electric Workshop Stage

Music fans, aspiring musicians and others can attend free workshops on the La Plata Electric Association Workshop Stage during the 26th annual Four Corners Folk Festival in Pagosa Springs this weekend.

Workshop Schedule:
Saturday, September 3:
• Arranging with The Badly Bent: 2 p.m.
• Performance with Dana Ariel: 3 p.m.
• Songwriting with Sarah Borges & Amanda Anne Platt: 4 p.m.

Sunday, September 4:
• A Happy Musical Adventure for Festival Goers with Denise & Charles Leslie of the Rocky Mountain Uke Festival: 11 a.m.
• Songwriting with Darrell Scott: 1 p.m.
• The World of Seth Walker: 3 p.m.

Workshops include a once-in-a-lifetime collaboration between two of the top women’s songwriters in Americana music; an insight into a blues guitarist’s world; a local bluegrass band explaining how they arrange songs in a variety of genres; a young, rising singer/songwriter who practically grew up at the festival; a legendary singer songwriter; and a happy musical adventure for festival goers.

“Workshops are a festival tradition that go way back to our very first year,” said Festival Director Jill Davis. “Whether you’re a musician looking for tips and advice, or an ardent fan hoping for a peek into the creative process of a performer you admire, the workshop tent is a great place to go.”

The La Plata Electric Association Workshop Tent is located just up the gravel road a bit from the box office, smack dab in the middle of a grassy meadow and surrounded by ponderosa pines, scrub oak and lupine flowers. It’s an intimate setting where no amplification is required because attendees sit right in front of their favorite musicians.

Players are encouraged to bring their own instruments in case there’s an opportunity to play along, but non-players are equally welcome to just sit back and take it all in. Workshops are open to all festival-goers with a valid wristband for the day.

Additional workshops may be added, which will be announced by the festival emcee. Most workshops are around 50 minutes in length.

About the workshops and performers:
The Badly Bent has been entrenched in the Four Corners bluegrass scene since 1998. It won the coveted 2005 Telluride Bluegrass Band Competition and has played at more than 100 festivals across the U.S. This March, they released their third album, Too Late to Care, which has charted on bluegrass and alt-country charts ever since. The band features Patrick Dressen (vocals, guitar), Mark Epstein (vocals, banjo), Guy Ewing (bass), Cindi Trautmann (vocals, fiddle) and Joel Denman (mandolin). Badly Bent albums and live shows regularly include well-crafted originals and a host of songs they reinvent from a variety of genres, including bluegrass, folk, country and rock.

Dana Ariel is a local singer/songwriter whose songs “Midnight Sun,” “Wild Woman” and “Stories” are regularly played on KSUT. Although just one voice and one guitar, her eclectic sound features atmospheric vocals, folky guitar and a mixture of genres. She has shared the stage and worked with local bands such as Hello DollFace and Elder Grown and draws comparisons to Brett Dennen and Sara Watkins. Ariel told us she practically grew up on Reservoir Hill and serves as a volunteer on the festival’s stage crew.

Sarah Borges and Amanda Anne Platt are two of the most powerful songwriters in contemporary Americana music. Borges has fronted her own band since the 2004 release of her debut album, Silver Lining. She has released eight albums since, including her latest, Together Alone, which has cracked the Top 20 of both the Americana Music Association and Alt-Country Specialty Chart weekly polls. Platt is the leader of Amanda Anne Platt & The Honeycutters, an Asheville, N.C.-based band that plays a blend of Americana steeped in Appalachian folk and traditional country. Formed in 2009, The Honeycutters have eight albums to their credit, including their highly-acclaimed double album, The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, which was released earlier this year. While the two of them are longtime members of the Mongrel Music roster, they’ve never performed together prior to their Four Corners Folk Festival workshop.

Denise and Charles Leslie are directors of Rocky Mountain UkeFest, Durango’s annual ukulele festival. They are bringing their Rocky Mountain Campground Tour to the Four Corners Folk Festival and will have everyone strumming and singing songs they love. Their workshop is open to all ages and all instruments are welcome. “We’re encouraging banjos, fiddles, harmonicas, guitars and all to join our little four-chord session.”

Darrell Scott is one of the festival headliners and has played on this stage several times over the years. And what is the path that shapes us as we go along, those true defining moments without which we would be hollow versions of our current selves? For Darrell, it was coming from a musical family with a father who had him smitten with guitars by the age of 4, alongside a brother who played Jerry Reed style as well. From there, things only ramped up with literature and poetry endeavors while a student at Tufts University, along with playing his way through life. This would never change. He often leads songwriting workshops to help people tell their own truths with their stories, and is as busy as always writing, producing, performing, and just plain fully immersing himself at the hips in life.

Seth Walker is a blues singer and guitarist who has released 11 albums to date, the most recent, I Hope I Know, still placing highly on blues, Americana and alt-country radio charts. Born and raised in rural North Carolina, he has called such musical Meccas as Austin, New Orleans, Nashville and, most recently, Asheville, N.C., home. Walker maintains close musical relationships with The Mavericks and The Wood Brothers and has performed around the world. He also recently released his first book, a collection of essays, stories and artwork called Your Van Is On Fire: The Miscellaneous Meanderings of a Musician. Like the book, his workshop, titled “The World of Seth Walker” shares personal accounts of his time spent in perpetual motion searching for the muse.

Festival headliners include Yonder Mountain String Band, Darrell Scott’s Electrifying Trio, Heartless Bastards, Dirtwire and Gangstagrass. All totaled, 16 bands and artists in the folk, Americana, bluegrass, blues, rock, R&B and Celtic genres will perform on Reservoir Hill this coming weekend.

Campgrounds will open at 11 a.m. Thursday; music starts at 4 p.m. Friday and continues through Sunday evening.

For a complete schedule, to purchase tickets, or find out information about each performer, visit ksutpresents.org. Volunteer opportunities are still available.

Chris Aaland is the Development Director at KSUT Public Radio. He also hosts the Monday Afternoon Blend and the Wednesday evening specialty show Tales of the New West.
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