For the third year in a row, I spent Labor Day weekend immersed in the world of folk music at Storyhill Fest, aka folk music heaven on earth. Located on a large beautiful wooded property on a lake in the Brainerd area, the festival drew a record 400 people in its 4th year of existence (I missed the first one, but I have a good excuse - I was out of the country!). Featuring two full days of music by a dozen folk musicians from all over the country, plus the magical nightly campfires, it really is (as emcee J-Matt likes to remind us) the best kept musical secret in Minnesota. Plenty of outdoor activities on land and water, a family-friendly atmosphere, workshops for aspiring musicians, comfortable accommodations ranging from campsites to cabins to private rooms in a lodge, small enough to give you that up-close-and-personal feel with the artists, large enough to draw acclaimed talent from the folk music world, what more could you ask for in a music festival?
In chronological order of their appearance on stage, here are a few words about the artists that made up this year's festival (click on each artist's name to be taken to their website, where you can find information about purchasing their music or seeing them perform live):
|Danny Schmidt and Carrie Elkin|
Carrie Elkin: What can I say about Carrie that I haven't already said (here and here)? She has performed and/or emcee-ed at every Storyhill Fest I've attended, and I can't imagine the festival without her. Her voice is a force of nature, and I'm beginning to think there's nothing she can't do. She shared a set with the next two artists so we didn't get to see as long of a solo show as in the past, but she made up for it by singing backup for many of the artists - because who doesn't sound better with Carrie Elkin standing next to with them?
|in the round with |
Shannon Wurst, Steve Parry, and Carrie Elkin
Shannon Wurst: Sharing a set with the previous two artists, I don't feel like I saw enough of Shannon. But I heard enough to know I'd like to hear more. There's something very appealing about her voice - pure and honest. Fortunately she sang a few more songs at the campfire both nights, and maybe she'll get a full set at next year's fest!
|Doug and Telisha Williams|
|Sam Baker and Carrie Elkin|
|Chris and Johnny, aka Storyhill|
Check out this of Storyhill singing their song "White Roses," which morphs into the Beatles' "I'm Looking through You." (More Storyhill Fest videos available at the Cherry and Spoon youtube channel, including two versions of my favorite Danny Schmidt song "Company of Friends.")
If all of the above wonderfulness isn't enough to convince you that Storyhill Fest is the place to be on Labor Day weekend, there's one more bit of wonder. The highlight of the festival is the nightly campfire sing. The artists come down to the biggest campfire I've ever seen and pass songs around, while we festival-goers get to watch and listen. It's a truly magical experience. Everyone sounds better by a campfire. Not that they don't sound amazing on stage and on their recordings, but when some of your favorite musicians are singing and playing guitar just a few feet away from you in the still night air of the Minnesota woods, there's nothing quite like it. There's something about the acoustics of a campfire that brings out the truth in a song. The hardest thing in the world is leaving that campfire while the music is still going on, but there comes a point when I just can no longer stay upright, and must stumble through the dark to bed, to go to sleep with the music softly ringing in my ears, dreaming of next year.
Tickets for Storyhill Fest 2013 will likely go on sale later this year so keep checking the website, or sign up for the newsletter to be the first to know.