Photos by Dorothy St. Clare & Tobin Voggesser
From September 18th through the 20th, 2014, the exquisite town of Lyons, Colorado will once again host the Kinfolk Celebration. This Festival takes place at picturesque Planet Bluegrass Ranch. As many know, the folks at Planet Bluegrass are responsible for orchestrating the legendary Telluride Bluegrass Festival, which celebrated its 41st consecutive year this past June. What this means is that Planet Bluegrass knows how to throw a great party.
The Kinfolk Celebration is not a yearly one. This is only the fourth one to be held at the Ranch. The last Kinfolk Celebration was held there in 2012 and the one before that took place twelve years ago. Mountain Tracks Vol. 3 was recorded at the Third Planet Bluegrass Kinfolk Celebration. The Ranch is an exceptionally appealing place and camping there is considered by festival goers to be a rare privilege. There are only a couple of opportunities a year to attend live music at the Ranch and camp overnight.
Another reason this venue carries a special place in many festivarians hearts is that it was nearly destroyed last year in a five hundred year flood. This flood demolished the Wildflower pavilion, rerouted the St. Vrain River and isolated the little town of Lyons. The St. Vrain, a normally docile, peaceful stream that runs through the Ranch property, rampaged out of control and changed its course to run directly in front of the main stage.
Craig Ferguson, the proprietor of Planet Bluegrass, took a look at the decimated property and vowed to rebuild in time for RockyGrass. The event took place this past July without a hitch to the amazement and delight of its attendees. You can view this amazing reconstruction here: http://bit.ly/pb2014rebuild.
The Planet Bluegrass Ranch holds significance to the hosts of the Kinfolk Celebration, Yonder Mountain String Band. Yonder performed at the much loved RockyGrass festival, held annually at the Ranch, during the band’s first year of existence in 1999. Adam Aijala and Ben Kaufmann play an intimate show at the Ranch every year to celebrate Mabon (one of the few events that allow overnight camping).
Last year Mabon was derailed by the devastating flood. This year the show will be held the Thursday night of Kinfolk. Followers of Yonder Mountain String Band (Kinfolk) consider this event to be extraordinary because it allows these two great singer/songwriters the chance to show their range and joke and interact with the audience in a way that they could never do at a Yonder show. Adam and Ben’s show on Thursday is included in the camping pass for the Kinfolk Celebration this year.
A word about the Kinfolk community is in order. These music loving people are as varied in age, life experience and location as is conceivable. They are not elitist about their love of the band either. Whether it is your first show or your one hundred and first you will be met with open arms by this colorful gang.
This is also a wonderful opportunity to see Yonder’s current lineup. Mandolin player Jake Jolliff is an amazing talent with the ability to pick faster than the speed of light. Allie Kral brings her considerable skill on the fiddle and a new energy to the mix. Both of these additions have vocal skill making the harmonies richer. These two are bringing new ideas to the table which can be seen by fun new covers and different takes on YMSB standards. The sound is fresh and energetic. Reviews from the North West String Summit show that this formation is working!
This year’s Kinfolk celebration reveals some fun surprises such as the legendary John Bell of Widespread Panic fame, performing an acoustic set and joining the band for the Friday night show (September 19). Also on the bill, Haunted Windchimes, Head for the Hills, Gipsy Moon, Travelin’ McCourys, Drew Emmitt & Vince Herman from Leftover Salmon performing as a duo, and special guests Ronnie McCoury & Jason Carter from the Travelin’ McCourys appearing with Yonder Mountain (Saturday September 20). With this caliber of musicians there will, of course, be sit-ins galore!
Yonder Mountain String Band performs two sets each night, joined by Jake Jolliff & Allie Kral both nights. In addition, Ben Kaufman & Adam Aijala will perform on Thursday ( September 18) to celebrate Mabon.
Camping ranges from the throw-down party to quiet family camping, so there is guaranteed to be something for everyone. Also worth the trip is the fun of exploring this historical section of Colorado, nestled in the shadow of Long Peak and dubbed “The double gateway to the Rockies”. The fact that no one knows when this celebration will be held at Planet Bluegrass Ranch again makes this a don’t miss! For more information and tickets: http://www.bluegrass.com/kinfolk/