Wednesday, May 22, 2013

What’s in a name change?

Bigger word means bigger variety of music

Express Staff Writer

    It’s nearly that time of year again, the time Northern Rockies Music Festival organizer Pete Kramer likes to say is “the one weekend you can see all your friends and relatives, have a great time and go away until next year.”
    The festival, for 35 years known as the Northern Rockies Folk Festival, has a new name to allow wiggle room to the lineup for the popular summer party. This year’s event is set for Friday, Aug. 2, and Saturday, Aug. 3, at Hop Porter Park in Hailey.
    “Changing the word ‘folk’ to ‘music’ lays open the invitation for a wider audience,” Kramer said. He describes this year’s spread as largely “Americana.”
    This year’s lineup starts Friday night with locals Up a Creek, followed by Halden Wofford and the Hi-Beams with headliner Hayes Carll.
    Carll, who echoes a bit of Lyle Lovett in his music, “is a rapidly ascending artist from Austin,” Kramer said. He caught Carll’s act on the televised Austin City Lights playing along veteran Robert Earl Keene.
    So broken by—what else?—matters of the heart and soul, Carll waxes humorously and convincingly on his “Bad Liver and a Broken Heart,” and how “She Left Me for Jesus,” on his latest album, “Trouble in Mind.”
    Carll is a Texas country singer-songwriter from The Woodlands, outside Houston. He was a 2011 nominee for Artist of the Year at the 2011 Americana Music Association awards.
    “I guess you could say I write degenerate love songs,” the lanky history major said on his website biography. “That, and songs about people who are wedged between not much and even less; people who see how hopeless it is and somehow make it work anyway. And the best kind of irony, sometimes, is applying no irony and letting reality do the work.”
    “This night is the boot-scooting, butt-kicking night for sure,” Kramer said.
    On Saturday, it’s Paddy Wagon, Captain Dano & The Nobodies, Steph Sloan & Elephant Parade, George Devore and the Electric Cigarettes.
    This night represents the crux of the festival’s mission.
    “A really important aspect of our successful formula is to include our young and emerging artists,” he said. “The big thing with us is bringing in quality entertainers, featuring local talent and remaining the most affordable and accessible event for the Wood River Valley.”
    Sloan is a product of local support and the festival. Her original music and unique voice can be sampled on Youtube, with “Record Player,” a song inspired by brother Nick and performed at the Berklee College of Music Songwriter’s Night.
    The headliner will be blues and soul performer Ruthie Foster.
    Foster’s latest album, “Let it Burn,” features The Blind Boys of Alabama and soul legend William Bell and The Funky Meters.
    The New York Times said Foster “sounds long-suffering, forthright, resilient and thoroughly at home.” Paste magazine praised her undeniable power in her “monstrous voice.”
    She has been described as reminiscent of folk musician Bonnie Raitt.
    The 44s, who frequently swing through the Sun Valley Brewery where they regularly bring down the house, “will bring the gas” before Foster takes the stage, Kramer said.
    There will be camping available at Lion’s Park and there will be food and drink vendors on site.
    “We’ve always been proud of the fact that we have talent that delivers,” Kramer said. “The proof is when six weeks later someone walks up to me saying they are still listening to the music they heard that weekend.”

Fest stats:
When: Friday, Aug. 2, and Saturday, Aug. 3.
Tickets: At the gate, Friday only $20, Saturday only $30, weekend pass $45. Discount of 15 percent in advance from

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