The Palisade Bluegrass and Roots Music Festival
A sweet deal for Mesa County music lovers
The Palisade Bluegrass and Roots Music Festival is kicking off the 2012 western Colorado summer music scene with a huge bang, with the Steel Drivers and 18 South appearing Saturday night, June 16, and the Grammy Award-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops closing the festival on Sunday, June 17.
The Carolina Chocolate Drops won a Grammy for best traditional folk album with their 2010 release, “Genuine Negro Jig,” and have followed that up with “Leaving Eden,” released in Feb. 2012. Their song, “Daughter’s Lament,” is featured on the soundtrack of “The Hunger Games.” They are an up-and-coming group with a unique style and sound, so don’t leave the festival early on Sunday.
This will mark the fourth year that Palisade has hosted the festival and organizers hope that Mesa County residents will come out and join the party. In fact, they’ve added a sweet incentive to do just that — all Mesa County residents will pay the blind faith ticket price, which is $15 to $20 per day less than the gate price and $30 less for camping. Call 464-5602 for information.
The festival is at Riverbend Park in Palisade, where there’s plenty of room for everyone to spread out. This year, the town of Palisade has opened up premium camping spots near the river. Festival jam bands play long into the night in camping areas after the official music on the stage has ended.
The park also has extensive bike trails, so bring your bike when you come for the weekend; it’s an easy way to get around the festival and get into Palisade if you want to visit downtown. The town of Palisade will also be operating a free shuttle carrying festival-goers to town, circulating every half hour. Park your car at the campground on Friday night and there’s no need to get back in it until the festival ends on Sunday.
ARTIST FOCUS: Carolina Chocolate Drops
Founding members Dom Flemons and Rhiannon Giddens of the Carolina Chocolate Drops have been playing music together since 2005. The band has been constantly touring since 2007 and their 2010 album, Genuine Negro Jig, won a Grammy for Best Traditional Folk Music. They recently recorded a song with T. Bone Burnett for the Hunger Games soundtrack and worked with Jack Holzman on a 50th Anniversary compilation for Amnesty International.
“It’s been a whirlwind since day one,” said Flemons, “but things have been growing every year. With the Grammy on the last album, more people are aware of what we’re putting out.”
The band recently added two new members to the lineup who are also traveling with the band in 2012. Hubby Jenkins, a Brooklyn-based guitarist, singer, mandolin and banjo player, and Leyla McCalla, a cello player from New Orleans. Their most recent album, Leaving Eden, also featured the talents of beat-boxer Adam Matta.
Beat-boxing and banjo music may sound like an odd combination to those who have not heard Giddens sing “Country Girl,” but once you hear it, you realize it’s a perfect combination. It’s also one more reason why it’s difficult to put the Carolina Chocolate Drops into a genre of music and expect them to stay there.
“It’s old time music,” Flemons said. “It has a bunch of elements of other genres. There are pieces of blues, jazz and country in it.”
Their old time sound was a perfect match for The Hunger Games soundtrack, and their song, “Daughter’s Lament,” showcases Giddens’ clear, strong voice. The band came into town a day early and as a result, Flemons was able to play the quills, a traditional African American pan flute, on another track.
In addition to the quills, Flemons also plays the banjo, guitar, jugs, snare drum and bones. Giddens is also a multi-instrumentalist, playing banjo, fiddle and the kazoo.
Yes, the kazoo. She’s also a classically trained singer who can handle opera. How’s that for a contrast? The Carolina Chocolate Drops create a unique sound unlike anything being played today. Don’t miss the opportunity to hear them play in Palisade.