While the majority of WestFest revolves around mountain men, Indians, prospectors and cowboys, Michael Martin Murphey's romanticized version of the "old West" also serves as a forum to many musical acts who have taken that sentimental influence and used it to create a whole new sound. A few highlights:
Despite success in the United Kingdom, Cowboy Nation has been floating under the U.S. radar for some time now, a feat considering that their exquisitely barren, American gothic harmonies distill the essence of "the West" into music with both edge and heritage. Brothers Chip and Tony Kinman and drummer Jamie Spidell are the Clint Eastwood to mainstream country's John Wayne; A.B. Guthrie to other acts' Louis L'amour.
Hot Club of Cowtown is another young trio drawing from old sounds, only this group leans more east than west. East ... like Paris. Combining the stringed swing of Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli's Hot Club era with Texas-style fiddling and Bob Wills standards, Cowtown's vintage sound appeals to jazz, swing and country fans of all ages -- music for the intelligent masses.
Pinmonkey's soulful country has been compared to the Eagles, but dobros and lead singer Michael Reynolds' bluegrass mountain tenor roots any modern rock influences that might sway the band out of their Nashville eddy and into the mainstream. There's enough rhythm and pop in Pinmonkey's music to make them relevant, but their earnest performances keep them independent of the rhinestone explosions and crossover tendencies so rampant in their hometown of Nashville.
Tony Furtado, normally booked on the jam-band tour circuit, is another unexpected act at WestFest. Furtado's acoustic guitar fusion of jazz, funk, Americana, bluegrass and Grateful Deadstyle hippie rock will be quite possibly the most unique performance at this year's festival.
WestFest musical schedule:
Friday, June 28
Main Stage (to the east of the Pikes Peak Center)
Michael Martin Murphey, 4:45-5 p.m.; Eddie Three Eagles, 5-5:30 p.m.; Brenn Hill, 5:30-6 p.m.; Joanne Shenandoah, 6-6:30 p.m.; Cowboy Nation, 6:30-7 p.m.; Joni Harms, 7-7:30 p.m.; R.W. Hampton, 7:30-8 p.m.; Michael Martin Murphey, 8-8:45 p.m.; Cowboy and Indian jam, 9:15-11 p.m.
Village Stage (a.k.a. "Second Stage" to the north of the Pikes Peak Center)
The Mitguards, 6-7 p.m.; Aaron Angello, 8:30-9:15 p.m.
Saturday, June 29
Michael Martin Murphey, 10:30-11 a.m.; Aaron Angello and The Mitguards, 11-11:30 a.m.; Red Steagall, 11:40 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; Eddie Three Eagles, 1:55-2:25 p.m.; Tony Furtado, 3:50-4:40 p.m.; Hot Club of Cowtown, 6:05-7:10 p.m.; Darryl Worley, 7:15-8:30 p.m.; Michael Martin Murphey, 8:40-10 p.m.
Riders in the Sky, 12:40-1:50 p.m.; Eddie Three Eagles, 1:55-2:25 p.m.; Ryan Murphey, 3:15-3:45 p.m.; Red Steagall, 4:55-5:25:
In the Great Hall inside the Pikes Peak Center:
The Mitguards, 12:15-1:15 p.m.; Aaron Angello, 3:15-4:15 p.m.; Pinmonkey, 4:50-5:35 p.m.
Sunday, June 30
Michael Martin Murphy, 11-11:25 a.m.; Red Steagall, 11:35 a.m. to 12:20 p.m.; Hot Club of Cowtown, 1:35-2:25 p.m.; Pinmonkey, 2:35-3:35 p.m.; Chely Wright, 3:45-4:55 p.m.; Poco, 5:50-7 p.m.; Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, 7:10-8:20 p.m.; Michael Martin Murphy, 8:30-9:45 p.m.
Eddie Three Eagles, 12:20-1:05 p.m.; Ryan Murphey, 3:30-4 p.m.; Red Steagall, 4:55-5:35 p.m.
In the Great Hall
12:15-1:15 p.m. the Mitguards
3:15-4:15: Aaron Angello
-- Kristen Sherwood
Friday-Sunday, June 28-30
Tickets: Friday, $15; Saturday, $21; Sunday, $21; Saturday-Sunday pass, $39; Friday-Sunday pass: $50. Free to kids under 12. Call 520-9090 to purchase tickets
For more about WestFest, see Livelong Days) . For details, call the WestFest info line at 877/937-8337 or visit www.westfest.net.