Sarah Jarosz, Quiles & Cloud to Perform at Four Corners Folk Fest
This year’s Four Corners Folk Festival lineup includes Los Lobos, Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn, The Wood Brothers, The Lil’ Smokies, The East Pointers, John Fullbright, We Banjo 3, Session Americana, The Accidentals, The Drunken Hearts, Freddy & Francine, Ghost of Paul Revere, the FY5 Band… and this week’s featured artists: Sarah Jarosz and Quiles & Cloud.
“I really like that word,” Sarah Jarosz says of the title of Undercurrent, her fourth Sugar Hill album. “If you look up the definition, it’s ‘an underlying feeling or influence’ or ‘a flow of water moving below the surface.’ To me, that really encompasses the feeling behind this record.”
That evocative imagery is appropriate for Undercurrent, whose 11 original songs seem to reveal new lyrical depth and sonic nuance with every listen. A gifted multi-instrumentalist, a singularly expressive vocalist and a songwriter of rare insight, Sarah Jarosz has been described by The New York Times as “one of acoustic music’s most promising young talents: a singer-songwriter and mandolin and banjo prodigy with the taste and poise to strike that rare balance of commercial and critical success.”
Although it’s her fourth album, Undercurrent is a milestone for Jarosz in more ways than one. It’s her first release since graduating with honors from the New England Conservatory of Music, and her first since relocating to New York City. It was selected as the International Folk Music Award Album of the Year and won the Grammy Award for Best Folk Album. A track on the record, “House of Mercy,” won the Grammy award for Best American Roots Performance.
Upon receiving a mandolin for Christmas when she was nine years old, she worked tirelessly to master the instrument, and learned to play guitar and clawhammer banjo along the way. When she was 11, she performed at her first bluegrass festival; over the next few years, she gained an impressive reputation as a young phenom on the festival circuit, absorbing a world of traditional influences while honing her own highly original songwriting sensibility.
“From an early age, I’ve had a strong desire to create music,” Jarosz states. “I was also fortunate to be surrounded by older, accomplished musicians who were my mentors. From the very beginning, all of my heroes looked out for me and challenged me in the best ways.”
Jarosz spent much of 2015 touring widely as one-third of “I’m With Her,” the mini-supergroup she shares with kindred spirits Sara Watkins and Aoife O’Donovan.
“After singing my own songs for so many years, it was eye-opening to shift gears and be a part of something different,” Jarosz observes. “We’ve been a band for only a year, but I’ve learned so much from it already, and I definitely brought some of those lessons to Undercurrent.
“I’m just trying to become more focused and more honest, and trying to be a better listener and observer of the world around me,” she asserts.
Sarah Jarosz will perform on the festival main stage on Sunday, September 3 at 5:00pm.
When Maria Quiles (vocals and guitar) and Rory Cloud (vocals and guitar) met in 2011, both were adrift. Maria had quit her job, given up her San Francisco apartment, and moved in with her uncle in order to pursue music full-time. Rory had left behind a stable schedule of gigs and music lessons in Southern California to seek a new music community elsewhere. He eventually wound up living out of his Toyota Corolla in San Francisco, where he first heard Maria at an open mic.
“As a lead guitar player, I could immediately hear myself in her songs.” Rory remembers.
They started playing together shortly thereafter, and it was an instant fit. As Rory puts it, “At the time, I had no commitments. I was living on food stamps and busking in Sausalito, and occasionally getting $50 for gigs. It was a challenging transition in my life, but it was very intentional. I wanted the freedom to live a life with music that really spoke to me, and so did Maria.”
Rory and Maria dubbed their new project Quiles & Cloud. They played together nearly every day, and recorded their first album 5 months after they first met. They began touring almost immediately – often for months at a time. The duo’s experiences on the road caused them to open themselves up even further – both to one another, and to the people they met along the way – becoming more receptive to the kinds of connections that they could create through music.
Their sound has struck a chord with audiences all over the country. Folk Alley has lauded the group’s “continued ability to combine subtle precision with stark grit and creative exploration.” Acoustic Guitar has called them “a compelling new voice on the Americana scene.” Quiles & Cloud have now played hundreds of shows, won the 2014 FreshGrass Duo Award, and caught the attention of Grammy Award-winning banjo player Alison Brown, who produced their third album, Beyond The Rain, which comes out on Compass Records soon.
Quiles & Cloud will play the late night stage on Friday, September 1 at approximately 9:00pm and will follow that up with a main stage set on Saturday, September 2 at 11:30am.
The Four Corners Folk Festival is produced by FolkWest, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and is funded in part with a grant from Colorado Creative Industries.