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Gazette Premium Content MeadowGrass Music Festival returns to Memorial Day with music, dance and sun

By Jen Mulson Published: May 23, 2013

MEADOWGRASS MUSIC FESTIVAL
When: Friday through Sunday
Where: La Foret Conference and Retreat Center, 6145 Shoup Road
Tickets: $40 single day, $75 full festival pass; 495-2743, meadowgrass.org
Camping: All passes are sold out. $10 camping pass, $85 full festival and camping pass
Something else: Check out bios of the headliners and the music schedule

The MeadowGrass Music Festival, now a staple of the Memorial Day weekend at La Foret Conference and Retreat Center in Black Forest, is back for round five.

The three-day traditional and contemporary roots music congregation features national, regional and local acts. This year promises to be the biggest shindig yet, with more bands, new music workshops by featured musicians, a film screening and late-night shows after the main stage has gone dark.

Festival director Steve Harris saw positive signs in the weeks before opening day. They sold more advance tickets this year than in 2012. Camping sites, which doubled this year, sold out May 2 - more than three weeks before the festival begins.

"Last year, we averaged 1,000 to 1,300 people a day," Harris said. "This year, I'm expecting 1,500 a day, possibly 2,000." The festival at La Foret lost money the first three years but turned a profit in 2012. Harris hopes that trend continues.

"It would be nice to say that after five years we've made more money than we've spent," said Harris, who also hosts the Grass Roots Revival show Wednesday nights on local radio station KRCC. "But it takes time to get these things established." The talent budget this year was $50,000, Harris said. That's a 30 percent increase over last year. That allowed him to bring in 24 bands, as opposed to 21 last year.

"It's kind of what we can afford," he said. "If we had a bigger budget, we would bring in bigger bands. I'm not opposed to it. I do try to get bands that are up-and-coming because of what we can afford. Our biggest coup is getting Dawes, but we'll always want to give an up-and-coming an opportunity. It's exciting to see them at that stage of their career."

 

BLITZEN TRAPPER
8:30 p.m. Friday
Hometown: Portland, Ore.
Formed: 2000
Band members: Eric Earley, Erik Menteer, Brian Adrian Koch, Michael Van Pelt, Marty Marquis
Latest CD: “American Goldwing,” 2011
Influences: The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Elton John, Led Zeppelin
Sounds like: Tom Petty, Neil Young, Gram Parsons

BIO
Indie folk band Blitzen Trapper released their first three albums on their own and were signed to a label in 2007. The 2008 album “Furr” earned high praise, and Rolling Stone ranked it No. 13 on its best albums of 2008 list. The title track was No. 4 on best singles.
The New York Times critic Nate Chinen said of their last album: “Eric Earley, the band’s singer and songwriter, doesn’t stop at evoking Mr. Dylan; he also brushes up against Randy Bachman and Elton John. But the songs are stubbornly engaging, filled with characters who drink and regret it, and struggle to understand their own decisions.”


The Gazette: What artist, living or dead, would you most want to record with?
Eric Earley: Either Joe Walsh or RZA (Wu-Tang Clan); they both have a really heavy style, and their sound is good to drive to.
Gazette: What song have you always wanted to cover?
Earley: “Strange Magic” by ELO (Electric Light Orchestra).

TODD SNIDER
8:30 p.m. Sunday
Hometown: Portland, Ore.
Latest CDs: “Agnostic Hymns & Stoner Fables” and “Time As We Know It: The Songs Of Jerry Jeff Walker,” both April 2012
Influences: Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, John Prine, Jerry Jeff Walker, Tom Petty
Sounds like: Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie

BIO
Todd Snider is a country blues singer/songwriter and harmonica player. He has released more than a dozen albums since 1994.
The New York Times critic Stephen Holden wrote: “Mr. Snider’s country-blues songs are deceptively casual and charming. The more you contemplate them, the sturdier and deeper they seem. He presents himself as a live-and-let-live fatalist who has seen too much of the world to pass judgment on anyone.”

The Gazette: What artist, living or dead, would you most want to record with?
Todd Snider: I want to make an album produced by Chris Robinson (The Black Crowes). I just met him recently and think he’s my generation’s best.
Gazette: What song have you always wanted to cover?
Snider: “Unchained Melody.” But I can’t hit all those notes.

 

GREAT AMERICAN TAXI
8:30 p.m. Sunday
Hometown: Nederland
Formed: 2005
Band members: Vince Herman, Chad Staehly, Jim Lewin, Chris Sheldon, Brian Adams
Latest CD: “Paradise Lost,” 2011
Influences: The Band, The Jayhawks, Gram Parsons and New Riders of the Purple Sage
Sounds like: Little Feat, Los Lobos and the Grateful Dead

BIO
Vince Herman, of bluegrass jam band Leftover Salmon fame, is the man behind Great American Taxi. The Americana, country rock band often tours and backs singer Todd Snider, who also produced their last album.
Dennis Cook, editor of the Jambands website, said: “The Taxi is the whole dang package for someone looking to lift their heels whilst wetting their whistle and getting their head and heart fed, too. In short, Great American Taxi is a speakeasy where all are welcome.”

The Gazette: What artist, living or dead, would you most want to record with?
Great American Taxi: I think everyone in Great American Taxi would have loved to record with Lowell George from Little Feat. Lowell had such an amazing gift for crafting a song, and he also knew how to get what he wanted in the studio.
Gazette: What song have you always wanted to cover?
Taxi: Great American Taxi backed up Todd Snider on an album recently that covered about 15 songs of Jerry Jeff Walker’s. Don Was produced the album, entitled “Time As We Know It: The Songs of Jerry Jeff Walker.” That was a fun project and a chance to cover a bunch of great songs.

--

FRIDAY
• 1 p.m. — Burn the Maps
• 2 p.m. — Moonhoney Gypsy Tango Cabaret
• 3:15 p.m. — Honey Don’t
• 4:45 p.m. — Sera Cahoone
• 6:30 p.m. — The David Mayfield Parade
• 8:30 p.m. — Blitzen Trapper

SATURDAY
• 11 a.m. — The Changing Colors
• 12:15 p.m. — Chauncy Crandall & The Rocket Flies
• 1:30 p.m. — Cahalen Morrison and Eli West
• 3 p.m. — Mollie O’Brien and Rich Moore
• 4:30 p.m. — Kirstin Hersh
• 6:15 p.m. — Hot Club of Cowtown
• 8:15 p.m. — Dawes

SUNDAY
• 10:15 a.m. — The Hereafter
• 11:15 a.m. — Adam and Stilwagen Gospel Hour
• 12:30 p.m. — Charlie Milo Trio
• 1:45 p.m. — Patrick Dethlefs
• 3:30 p.m. — Jayme Stone’s Room of Wonders
• 5 p.m. — Anais Mitchell and Jefferson Hamer
• 6:30 p.m. — Joe Pug
• 8:30 p.m. — Todd Snider and Great
American Taxi

WORKSHOPS
Ponderosa Lodge, included with admission
• 1:30 p.m. Saturday: “Arranging Fiddle Tunes” with 23 String Band
• 3:30 p.m. Saturday: “Storytelling in Song” with Anais Mitchell
• 1:30 p.m. Sunday: “Playing Western Swing/Hot Jazz” with Hot Club of Cowtown
• 3:30 p.m. Sunday: “How to Steal Songs” with Joe Pug

FILM SCREENING BY INDEPENDENT FILM SOCIETY OF COLORADO
7 p.m. Saturday, Ponderosa Lodge, included with admission
• “Rock N Roll Mamas” — A feature-length documentary that follows three female musicians as they tour and also raise their children. Kirstin Hersh, who performs Saturday, is one of the three musicians, and will do a question-and-answer session following the screening.

 

 

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