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MeadowGrass sounds off in the Forest

A plethora of musicians performed during the fourth MeadowGrass Music Festival at La Foret Conference and Retreat Center in Black Forest, Colo., Memorial Day Weekend.The festival began as a two-day festival in 2008, featuring local musicians. This year, 21 bands and musicians ñ local, state and national ñ participated.ìBands get their start here ñ it helps them develop a following,î said Amy Whitesell, festival committee member and co-owner of A Music Co. Inc., a live music promotion company for the Pikes Peak region.Many people perceive the festival as bluegrass but itís all inclusive, Whitesell said.Saturdayís musicians included the Flumps, hailing from Florence, Colo. Drummer Alex Koshak said the band is working on a CD with another local band, El Toro de la Muerte.The Hopeful Heroines, also from Colorado Springs, performed Saturday as well. ìThis is as good as it gets,î said Harriet Landrum, violinist. Landrum and Xanthe Alexis, on acoustic guitar, started playing together four years ago at the urging of friends. What came out of their venture were lyrics from songs like ìWhiskey Vacation:î ìThe choice between food and adventure is getting in the way, so I take that Whiskey vacation.îWell-known Alela Diane, 29, of Portland Ore., graced the stage Saturday performing for the first time in Colorado. She is working on her fourth solo album and has previously toured with her brothers and fatherís band, a Jerry Garcia cover band.This yearís festival was dedicated to the memory of Colorado Springs blues guitarist John-Alex Mason, who played at the inaugural festival in a rainstorm that caused the stage to collapse. Regardless, Mason kept right on playing. In 2001, Mason won the Telluride, Colo., Acoustic Blues Competition. He also played with blues greats B.B. King, John Mayall and John Hammond. At age 35, Mason died in 2011 from complications after surgery to remove cancerous tissue.This yearís festival also offered family-friendly activities and 120 camp sites. ìThere are a lot more families here this year. Camping is all sold out, including parking,î Whitesell said.ìI very much enjoy being a part of the festival ñ our whole family works here.î

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