PHOTO ESSAY: Saturday at Pagosa Folk ’N Bluegrass Festival

On June 2nd, I posted the below photo on my Facebook, with this explanation:

The view from my cabin deck reveals a white speck (lower right) which is the festival tent on Rez Hill. Festival begins a week from today… thanks, Crista Munro and Dan Appenzeller… The Lil Smokies and The O’Connor Band with Mark O’Connor…. amongst others…

The 2017 three-day Pagosa Folk ‘N Bluegrass Festival – somewhat of a misnomer because it has evolved into a multi-genre music festival – featured so much good music, that I must limit this essay to Saturday.

Phoebe Hunt and the Gatherers started the day off with a “Wow!”  Hunt’s soulful performance captured my heart from the get-go. Her introduction by the festival emcee was so full of accolades – including a Rolling Stone article – that it nearly brought Hunt to tears. “Not a good way to start a set,” she quipped, but Hunt quickly composed herself and took the audience on a wonderful trip for the next hour. Hunt’s humility combined with her immense writing, singing and fiddling talent pulled emotion out of every word she sang, as though it was the first time she had sang each song.

Phoebe Hunt and the Gatherers

Next up was the group Western Centuries. I must admit my favorite performer in that group was the drummer, who traded places with the lead singer to perform a couple of songs he had written, including a fun piece that evoked a Jimmy Buffet performance.

Western Centuries drummer evoking Jimmy Buffet

During Western Centuries’ set, I took a little trip back stage to the hospitality area/green room, where I found many musicians enjoying each other’s company and the breathless view.

Phoebe Hunt, her band, and their friends, including Molly Tuttle.

Phoebe Hunt and Molly Tuttle, back stage.


Phoebe Hunt’s rhythm section.

Musicians from The O’Connor Band relax before their closing performance Saturday night.

Next up was Molly Tuttle.

Molly Tuttle during sound check.

A polished performer and incredible flat picker, Tuttle’s band delivered.  She and her bass player live across the street from each other in Nashville, and they frequently play on their front porches. Lucky neighborhood.

Molly Tuttle and band.

I missed the next act, The Stash! Band, because I had to run down the hill, drive to my cabin to feed and walk my dog, and then back to the festival.

I heard various reports about The Stash! Band.  To summarize, it was the outlier band of the day.  Personal taste took over from there.

If you’ve never seen the The Lil Smokies, you’re missing an incredible progressive bluegrass jam band that delivers an incredibly good time to the audience. They were back from last year, and so was the audience.

The Lil’ Smokies

2017 Grammy winner for Best Bluegrass Album, The O’Connor Band featuring Mark O’Connor closed the day.  They are the consummate professionals, and, with three fiddle players, they had a symphonic sound at times.  They jammed dueling banjos, dueling fiddles and dueling guitars.

Mark O’Connor with The O’Connor Band.

A good time was had by all, on a splendid day at a splendid festival.


Cynda Green

Cynda Green enjoys writing about various and sundry topics, least of which is local politics.