Play all the folk music you want; it's no good without the folks. To that end, Swallow Hill Music Association is putting on the Swallow Hill Folk Festival, its annual gathering of pickers and fans dedicated to the perpetuation of true American roots music. Four Mile Historic Park, on the banks of Cherry Creek, is a suitably time-honored setting for the twangy confabulation. Headlining the fest, which begins at 6 p.m. tonight, will be Texas singer/songwriter Guy Clark. Nothing short of a legend, Clark has been weaving his intimate country/ blues hybrid for over thirty years, in the process penning hits for bigwigs like Johnny Cash and George Strait. The show returns at noon Saturday, with venerated blues guitarist Chris Smither topping the bill, and Sunday, with a performance by popular all-woman bluegrass combo Mystic River closing out the weekend.
But folk music isn't just a spectator sport; it's about community and inclusion. "We call it our gathering of the clan," says Jim Williams, Swallow Hill's executive director. "We try to make this participatory."
Besides all the beer, vittles, kids' activities and sets by local musicians that will grace the festival, attendees are encouraged to bring their own instruments to various workshops, open jams and drum circles.
Four Mile Park is at 715 South Forest Street. Admission to the Folk Festival is $21 in advance/ $24 at the gate for one-day passes, $54 for weekend passes, and $5 per day for children under twelve. (Prices are lower for Swallow Hill members.) Call 303-777-1003 or visit www.swallowhill.com for details and a complete schedule. -- Jason Heller
One Hot Spot
Rocky Flats rally hits sharp notes
Politics -- what a song and dance. But there's really no harm in turning your garden-variety rally into a satirical cabaret. The only aftershock is that it might make political protest more palatable to the general public. How well they understand that at Boulder's Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center, which will host former Rocky Flats grand jury foreman Wes McKinley and other Flats figures today during How to Survive Radioactive Recreation at Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge, a rally in disguise to poke fun at the concept of recreating in a waste dump. From 4 to 6:30 p.m. at the Central Park Bandshell, Broadway and Canyon Boulevard in Boulder, the politically motivated and the just plain curious can attend a book signing, the Tour de Flats Fashion Show -- an extravaganza of tie-dyed Tyvek, "Victoria's National Secret Very Hot Underwear" and more -- and McKinley's performance of cowboy music and poetry. McKinley will also cook up his signature cowboy brisket and beans for $5 a plate. That ought to be a gas. Plutonium, that is. For details, call 303-444-6981 or go to www.rmpjc.org. -- Susan Froyd