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Highway Poets & Wild Iris

Sometimes, you have to go away just to come home again. Sustained growth requires an assessment of where you’ve been, where it’s brought you, and where you want to go, and quiet reflection is as natural a part of this process as autumn dipping into winter. Hibernation, meditation, and resolution build toward spring’s revitalization, and the energy that surrounds such potential is what gets all the world dancing barefoot in the rain. As For the Folks enters its third year, we’ve taken the winter to dissect just how to keep propelling forward, and it’s only appropriate to open the season with a pair of bands that display the same hunger to progress. The Highway Poets and Wild Iris approach the road before them with eyes scouring the expanse of the great western sky, and their music reflects the drive of artists challenging each other to push their work further and create stronger bonds with their audience each time out.

The Highway Poets perform with the urgency of a freight train. Their sound races off the stage, swirls around the crowd, and whips up a frenzy that leaves no body unmoved. They come in heavy and lean hard on the gas, and all those in the vicinity are encouraged to hang on for dear life. Each show is an event of its own and they play as if their lives depend on it. Which, of course, they do. Music doesn’t allow for anything but everything. There’s too much power, too much at stake, too many eyes and ears poised on each ebb and flow that a moment of insincerity can sink the ship. This band recognizes that to stop growing is to stagnate, and as they push their music they bring the crowd along on a ride that’s sure to break new ground at every turn.

Wild Iris is the embodiment of artists putting every ounce of themselves into their work. Their songs resonate with expression, the vocals wrapping around guitar riffs that still have the dirt dripping from their roots. The terms that attempt to define them- Americana, Country, Folk- speak to the tangible form that hangs at an audience’s fingertips like a painting you’re not only allowed to touch but to hold, embrace, dance with and adore. Their songs tell stories upon stories and one can only listen with wonder at those spinning the tales, following a breadcrumb trail of where they come from and where the path leads. Music is not given or taken, it’s shared between those who create it and those who ingest it. Wild Iris scoots over in its seat to allow the audience to join them on their ride through an open landscape, changing pace and texture in accordance with all the variety of the California that informs their music. They are Santa Cruz, the Central Coast, the towering redwoods and the deep blue sea, and regardless of where you reside, they feel like home. On May 11, we’ll welcome them to ours; we simply cannot wait.

If you are a dreamer, come in. If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer . . . If you’re a pretender, come sit by my fire, for we have some flax golden tales to spin. Come in! Come in!

As we take off on a path headed where we know not, may we borrow from Shel Silverstein and invite you to join us, help us, add your fuel to our fire; we cannot, and would not, do it without you. A new year to explore, new friends to adore, new hills to climb. As with all good trips, it feels simply superb to come home. On May 11 we’ll do just that, can’t wait to see you there.