2017 Rocky Mountain Folks Festival PREVIEW


On August 17 I’ll be taking the 3:15 a.m. bus to Boston’s Logan Airport where I’ll be getting on a plane (United…gasp!) that will fly just under 2000 miles before touching down in Denver, Colorado. At which point, I’ll be getting off that plane and hopping on a shuttle bus to Lyons. I’ll spend four nights there staying with my friend Lal and we’ll be attending the annual Rocky Mountain Folks Festival.


Here’s the thing; I’ve NEVER been to Colorado. As in for real never. Colorado has always felt more like a dream than an actual place. It’s always seemed so far away almost as if it’s in another solar system. For all I know it could be.

I’m not a downhill skier so I haven’t had those kinds of Colorado visions. My entire life, Colorado has always made me think of two specific things: THIS  SONG and THIS TV SHOW. 

But with the recent launch of this blog and my insatiable thirst for live music and adventure, I decided – after seeing the lineup of the RMFF- that it was FINALLY time to make my way to the Centennial state.

Earlier this year I went to Tennessee for the first time in my life and you  read about that very special trip HERE and HERE.

So why am I excited about the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival? There are many reasons and it all starts with SHEL.

Left to right: Liza, Hannah, Eva and Sara Holbrook of SHELPhoto by Joe Dudeck
Left to right: Liza, Hannah, Eva and Sarah Holbrook of SHEL Photo by Joe Dudeck

In fact, it was one year ago yesterday that I first saw SHEL live after writing about them for the Portland Press Herald/MaineToday.com. They were so great I went and saw them again at the Ossipee Valley Music Festival in Hiram, Maine the very next day. Check out this insanely amazing cover of the Led Zeppelin song “The Battle of Evermore” which SHEL recorded on their 2012 debut album. Fun fact: They’ll be performing at the RMFF on Sunday, Aug. 20 which also happens to be Robert Plant’s birthday.

SHEL is from Fort Collins, Colorado and are based there as well as Nashville, TN.

They’re one of those bands that are tricky to categorize but I’ll take a stab at it.

SHEL are purveyors of indie-folk-pop-rock magic and their songs will make you smile, weep, float up into the clouds and down into the depths of the ocean. The band is Sarah, Hannah, Eva and Liza (hence SHEL) and they’ve all been playing music since they were kids. They’re so good at what they do that seeing them live is a stunning, electrifying, uplifting and I dare say transformational experience. Trust me!

Also, check out this live clip of one of my favorite SHEL songs.

I reached out to keys and accordion player Hannah Holbrook to get the latest on the band and to measure their excitement level on playing Rocky Mountain Folks Festival.

“This summer, we’re extremely excited to be touring in our home state, Colorado! We’ve been spending every spare moment in Nashville, TN recording for film and TV projects and working on our next album. New music and videos coming soon,” said Hannah. And this is all of course SPECTACULAR news to this fan. As for the festival, indeed it is something very special for SHEL to be part of. “We’re really looking forward to playing in Lyons. We’ve been hearing about the legendary Rocky Mountain Folks Festival our whole lives but this is the first year we’re actually in town for it and we’re honored to be a part of it.”

As for the rest of the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival; some of the acts I know and love and some I’ve haven’t had a chance to get to know yet but that will be part of the weekend’s magic; the discovery process.

To see the entire lineup CLICK HERE

Here are a few of the other acts that I’m SUPER excited to see in a few weeks.

Gregory Alan Isakov<em>Photo by Rebecca Cardiad</em>
Gregory Alan Isakov Photo by Rebecca Cardiad

Gregory Alan Isakov

I’m still getting to know this singer-songwriter and to know him at all is to love him a ton. I’m working my way through his catalog and with each new song I hear my jaw drops a little more and I become more and more smitten with his songwriting. I saw GAI at the 2014 Boston Calling Festival and can’t wait to see him again because man alive, the live album he released last year, “Gregory Alan Isakov with the Colorado Symphony” is divine.

I mean seriously, listen to this.


Rhiannon Giddens

I’ve been a casual fan of her old-time string band Carolina Chocolate Drops since they released their 2010 debut record “Genuine Negro Jig” and am annoyed with myself because I have yet to see them live.

Giddens released her first solo album, “Tomorrow is My Turn” in 2015 and she followed it up with “Freedom Highway” this past February and this is the album that I’ve been ALL ABOUT for the past month or so. It’s not that I don’t like the other one, I just haven’t listened to it yet because I’m lame. But I will. “Freedom Highway” is mostly original songs with the title track being a protest song that dates back to 1965 and was penned by Roebuck “Pops” Staples of the legendary Staple Singers.

Giddens’ take on it is sensational. Take a listen to the song and Giddens’ gorgeous, glorious voice:


“Freedom Highway” is an album that’s joyous, mournful, rootsy, hopeful, historical and about 376 other things and I can’t wait to hear Giddens and her band play some its songs live.

Lake Street DivePhoto courtesy of the artist
Lake Street Dive Photo by Danny Clinch

Lake Street Dive

Dear Mike, Rachael, Bridget and the other Mike,

I think you’re all REALLY swell.



Seriously though, if you’ve never seen Lake Street Dive live, stop what you’re doing right now and go buy tickets to the festival because my oh my, they’re one of the most spectacular ( I use this word too much but it’s always true) live bands out there.

The last time I saw them was in February and the show was dynamite.

If you’ve never heard of Lake Street Dive, take a listen to this:

The Wailin’ Jennys

The Wailin' Jennys
Nicky Mehta, Ruth Moody and Heather Masse of The Wailin’ Jennys Photo courtesy of the artist

They’re the folk trio of Nicky Mehta, Ruth Moody and Heather Masse.

Harmonies for days…

The Wailin’ Jennys are certifiably FANTASTIC live.  Just listen to this:

The Weepies

The Weepies
Steve Tannen and Deb Talan of The Weepies Photo courtesy of the artist

The Weepies is the married duo of Steve Tannen and Deb Talan. They’ve released five albums since 2003 and they both have solo work out as well. I have barely scratched the surface with The Weepies but I’ll say this much, this song KILLS ME. (Aimsel code for I love it!!)

This video clip is audio only which is just as well because I suggest you close your eyes and just let this play.


And so there you have it, these are some of the acts I’m excited to see and to be super deluxe clear, this is only about 1/3 of the acts who will be performing on August 18 to 20 in Lyons.

To quote Mr. Denver “All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go…” OK so they’re not QUITE packed but I did buy my airport bus ticket today when I was at the station dropping my sister off. I’ll be bringing my camera and some notebooks to document this thing as best I can so look for that post soon after I get back.

As of today (7/30) there are still tickets left for the 2017 Rocky Mountain Folks Festival and you can get them here.

If you come to the festival, drop me a line and let me know so we can say hi. I’ll be the gal from Maine with the 1,000 watt smile.

Ponti out.



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