Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Folk Fest is ramping up for August

James McMurtry to play Northern Rockies Folk Fest

Express Staff Writer

James McMurtry will headline the 34th Northern Rockies Folk Festival at Hop Porter Park in Hailey, Aug. 5-6. Courtesy photo

It's time to start planning for summer because the musicians coming to visit the Wood River Valley are worth the effort. For one of the best live music deals of the summer, the Northern Rockies Folk Festival, a Wood River Valley tradition for 34 years, is as good as it gets.

"We understand people need to be prudent with their entertainment dollars," said festival board President Pete Kramer. "We work hard to keep our pricing affordable. We feel fortunate to have significant sponsors such as Albertsons and a grant from the Idaho Commission on the Arts."

This year's festival will take place Friday, Aug. 5, and Saturday, Aug. 6. Tickets are $32 for two days or $16 for Friday and $21 for Saturday. Shows start at 5 p.m. on Friday and 11 a.m. on Saturday. Tickets are available online at with no service fee and at Chapter One Bookstore in Ketchum, Shelley's Deli in Hailey and at the gate.

"We will offer specials and discounts leading up to the festival," Kramer said. "We understand the value of the folk festival to the community. At the end of the day, we are a community event."

Kramer said the festival is a 501(c) 3 organization, which means any donation is tax deductible.

"We still focus on upcoming Wood River Valley talent," he said. "There are lots of people from this valley who are pursuing musical dreams."

The quality of stage production at the festival is top-notch, one reason that big acts such as James McMurtry and the Gourds are excited to play in the Wood River Valley.

"We brought back the Gourds because they are fun and they wanted to come back," he said. "We also want to introduce new talent to the festival in James McMurtry, which is very exciting."

McMurtry, the son of author Larry McMurtry, who wrote "Lonesome Dove" and "Terms of Endearment," grew up on a diet of Johnny Cash and Roy Acuff records. His first album, released in 1989, was produced by John Mellencamp and marked the beginning of a series of acclaimed projects for Columbia and Sugar Hill. In 2008, "Just Us Kids" marked his highest Billboard 200 chart position in more than 19 years. "Live in Europe" followed in 2009, and it documents McMurtry and his band on their first European tour, where they were accompanied on keyboards by Ian McLagan.

The festival will also include music by Quailfish, Roses Pawn Shop, The Sloans, Justin Wells, Carly Gibson, Intersection, Slow Children Playing, Up A Creek and Bill Coffey. Other valley talent will include Ken Martin, Tim East, Fletcher Brock and Jim Paisley.

New this year, the festival will offer overnight camping and RV parking across the street at Lion's Park on the Big Wood River. Reservations will be available at the Hailey Chamber of Commerce. On Sunday, Aug. 7, a "Picking Party" will take place at Lion's Park for all string instrument pickers who want to come together and play informally.

Sabina Dana Plasse:

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