VIDEO: Molly Tuttle, O’Connor Band Headline Folk ‘N Bluegrass Fest

The 12th annual Pagosa Folk ‘N Bluegrass festival takes place this coming weekend, June 9-11 on Reservoir Hill right here in Pagosa Springs.

Another terrific musical lineup is in store for 2017 including Loudon Wainwright III, The Dustbowl Revival, The Lil’ Smokies, Ten Strings and a Goat Skin, Western Centuries, Phoebe Hunt & the Gatherers, The Barefoot Movement, the Luke Bulla Trio, The Last Revel, The Stash! Band, The Heartstring Hunters, Moors & McCumber and this week’s featured artists: The O’Connor Band featuring Mark O’Connor and Molly Tuttle.

The O’Connor Band’s very first performance took place at the legendary Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, Kansas in 2015. In 2017 – less than a year and a half later – they took home the GRAMMY Award for Best Bluegrass Album for their debut recording, Coming Home.

In a whirlwind 18 months, the band has also performed at the GRAMMY Awards Premiere Ceremony, received standing ovations at the Grand Ole Opry and reached the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s Top Bluegrass Albums chart. They have put together a show unlike any other, one that blends country and pop sensibilities with Americana rawness, bluegrass drive, and chamber music sophistication.

 

“I never expect to like a show – I have been disappointed too many times,” says entertainment lawyer John Mason, who has represented the likes of Shakira and The Beach Boys and is currently working with the band. “However, when I first saw the O’Connor Band, I was stunned. This is the best band I have seen in decades, the best musicians. It was the most entertaining show and the most fun I have had in years.”

The O’Connor Band is the product of Mark O’Connor’s imagination – one that has served him well over the course of his four-decade professional career. A former child prodigy and national champion on the fiddle, guitar, and mandolin, Mark has won numerous GRAMMYs and CMA Awards, appeared on hundreds of commercial country albums, collaborated with the likes of Johnny Cash, Wynton Marsalis, Dolly Parton, and Yo-Yo Ma, and performed everything from original violin concertos to swing and jazz. But until recently, he had not worked on a project quite like this.

“It’s been one of the most surprising and rewarding experiences to perform with my family members on stage,” says Mark. “It’s really exciting to bend these American genres in new ways, combining accessibility with a real depth of musicianship and writing.”

In addition to Mark, the band features his son Forrest, (Harvard graduate and former Tennessee State Mandolin Champion), daughter-in-law Kate (frequent performer on the CMA Awards and CMA Country Christmas shows), and wife Maggie (graduate of the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University). The four of them play together as though they have been sharing the stage for many years – and in some ways, they have.

“We all grew up listening to my dad’s music,” says Forrest, “so in a sense, we’ve been preparing for this band for a majority of our lives.”

The band is rounded out by Joe Smart (national flatpick champion on guitar) and Geoff Saunders (bassist/banjoist extraordinaire and recent graduate of the University of Miami’s DMA program).

All six band members possess charisma that, when combined onstage, ensnares audiences from start to finish. All are masters of their instruments, all improvise as readily as they play parts in counterpoint, all can sing, and all move about the stage in a free but gripping choreography.

To miss this opportunity to see the O’Connor Band in Pagosa Springs would be a huge mistake. They will perform on the main stage on Saturday, June 10 at 7:00pm. In addition, band members Mark and Maggie O’Connor will be co-teaching a fiddle workshop on Saturday afternoon at 2:00pm; Forrest O’Connor will be co-teaching a mandolin workshop at 3:00pm and Joe Smart will be co-teaching a guitar workshop at noon that day.

Molly Tuttle
A virtuoso multi-instrumentalist and award-winning songwriter with a distinctive voice, Molly Tuttle has turned the heads of even the most seasoned industry professionals. She began performing on stage when she was 11, and recorded her first album, The Old Apple Tree, at age 13. Since then, she’s appeared on A Prairie Home Companion and at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, was featured on the cover of Flatpicking Guitar Magazine, won first place in the prestigious Chris Austin Songwriting Competition at Merlefest, and, last fall, received a Momentum Award from the International Bluegrass Music Association.

Her lovely voice, impeccable guitar playing, and sensitive song writing make her a star on the rise. She has already received more than two million YouTube views and is currently gearing up to release her first solo EP. American Songwriter Magazine says that Molly Tuttle “sings with the gentle authority of Gillian Welch, yet plays astoundingly fleet flat-picking guitar like Chet Atkins on superdrive.”

 

Molly’s rapid-fire bluegrass guitar work, sweet voice and barn-storming songwriting are sure to blow away the crowd when Molly plays the main stage on Saturday, June 10 at 2:30pm.

She’ll also be featured on the festival’s late night stage on Friday at 10:00pm.

Pagosa Folk ‘N Bluegrass is supported in part with funding from Colorado Creative Industries. Tickets and information about the festival can be found online at www.folkwest.com or by calling 877-472-4672.

Crista Munro

As Executive Director of the Colorado non-profit music organization FolkWest, Crista Munro manages marketing, grant-writing, sales, sponsorships and donor relations… among other duties.