Two consecutive features on the same festival might seem like overkill under ordinary circumstances. But Falcon Ridge Folk Festival released their alphabetized list of Emerging Artists just after we shared our previous feature, and I’m utterly floored by the amount of talent and craftsmanship included therein. Today, then, we come back to the Hillsdale, NY fields to share a few samples from the ranks of the up-and-coming. Enjoy!
The Emerging Artists Showcase at Falcon Ridge is quite well-respected in the music world: it’s quite competitive, and for fans, it’s a great way to test out new acts on the rise. But there’s something special about this year’s roster. For the first time, it features both a number of artists who have been on my “must see” list for a while, and several whom we’ve featured here before, including country-folk artist turned singer-songwriter Amy Black, “roots and branches” stringband Annalivia, Tall Heights, a duo from the Boston area who have shown up on my YouTube radar several times, and urban newgrass quintet Roosevelt Dime, who we first championed way back in 2008.
Other artists on this year’s list are relatively new to me, though many come highly recommended. New find Darlingside, for example, a “string rock quartet”, promises a heady sound, with layered indiefolk harmonies and instruments from cello to mandolin over the beat. Irreverent folk reinventors Bobtown sport an eclectic folk band energy with influences that range from punkgrass to funky gospel and folkpop. Young progressive bluegrass quintet Cricket Tell The Weather are featured at a number of trusted festivals this summer, and have played with Rushad Eggleston, co-founder of Crooked Still, which is itself a strong recommendation.
And although trends in the past few years have resulted in a group that skews heavily away from solo artists, a number of strong solo singer-songwriters appear on the list, from 2013 New Folk Finalist Bethel Steele to excellently impish local heroine Carrie Ferguson, from dark and raw-voiced New Jersey caller Jonah Tolchin to Maine-based acoustic coffeehouse rising star Connor Garvey, from NYC folkpopper Rachael Sage to midwestern folkrocker Jacob Latham. I’m especially happy to have discovered Amanda Pearcey, a great choice for the folkpop set, in researching this second-round feature: her new album, streamed in full below her homepage, featuring a voice reminiscent of Ani DiFranco, and a slow burn of a Rolling Stones cover.
I’ll stop there, lest I end up leaving someone out. But by definition, each of the 24 who has made it to the showcase bears serious consideration. Here’s the total list, in alphabetical order; if you’re up on your own local scene, and live in the continental US, odds are good you might recognize a few names yourself.
Amanda Pearcy (Austin, TX)
Amy Black (Somerville, MA)
Annalivia (Boston, MA)
Bethel Steele (Boston, MA)
Brad Yoder Duo (Pittsburgh, PA)
Carrie Ferguson (Northhampton, MA)
Connor Garvey (Portland, ME)
Cricket Tell the Weather (New Haven, CT)
Darlingside (Boston, MA)
Doug Allen (Stamford, CT)
Doug Kwartler (Boston, MA)
Jacob Latham (Bloomington, IN)
Jonah Tolchin (Princeton, NJ)
Martin Swinger (Augusta, ME)
Michael Braunfeld (Philadelphia, PA)
Noble Hunter (Brooklyn, NY)
Phil Henry Acoustic Trio (Rutland, VT)
Rachael Sage (NYC)
Reverend TH McGlinchey (Philadelphia, PA)
Roosevelt Dime (Brooklyn, NY)
Tall Heights (Boston, MA)
The Bones of J.R. Jones (Manilus, NY)
The Boxcar Lilies (Greenfield, MA)
Artists selected for the Emerging Artists Showcase play two songs each on mainstage on Friday between noon and 4:30; the hill is generally well-attended, and if CD sales at the “merch tent” are any indication, most artists pick up more than a few fans. But happily, the showcase isn’t the only chance you’ll have to see your newest music crush. Most artists who play Friday stay on for the weekend to play the campgrounds and vendor booths, in casual stop-as-you-can sessions and at hilltop songcircle “tent venues” run by coffeehouse promoters.
Several of these acts, in fact, including Roosevelt Dime, Darlingside, Bethel Steele, Connor Garvey, and Tall Heights, will appear on Thursday at the Lounge Stage, an unofficial platform run by previous Most Wanted Emerging Artists Pesky J. Nixon and friends, before the official festival stages go online; the roster is being leaked slowly over at the Lounge Stage Facebook page, but I’ve been given a sneak peek, and can attest to the great talent and high level of name-recognition therein. Already-announced performers also include Gathering Time, The Ya Yas, and Honor Finnegan (who toured together last month as the 2013 Falcon Ridge preview tour), crowd favorites Putnam Smith and ilyAIMY, folk duo Goodnight Moonshine (whose live debut last year was hosted by our very own Tree Falls Productions), and party-in-a-folkband Spuyten Duyvil, pictured above in a triumphant if rainy performance on Mainstage a few years ago. Last year, the Lounge Stage attracted over 400 patrons; it’s like having a small festival embedded inside a large one, and you’ll find me there for much of the day.
But I digress – the point here is to get y’all excited enough about the festival itself to make the trip for their 25th anniversary year. So scroll on for a few covers from a small but representative sample of this year’s Falcon Ridge Folk Festival Emerging Artists, hit up our earlier entry for mainstage artists galore – and then head over to this Spotify list to hear full albums and more from the emerging crowd.
Cover Lay Down shares new features and coverfolk sets twice weekly thanks to the support of patrons like you. Coming soon: a CD-release party with The Deadly Gentlemen, and more from the overstuffed mailbag!