Bluegrass band The Hillsiders will perform at the Bluegrass and Traditional Music Festival at Wildlife West Nature Park in Edgewood. (Courtesy of The Hillsiders)

What could be better in summer than warm nights and live music?

The Southwest Traditional and Bluegrass Music Association, also known as the Southwest Pickers, will host the 47th Annual Bluegrass and Traditional Music Festival, which runs from 3-9 p.m. Friday, June 17 and 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday. June 18 at Wildlife West. Natural park in Edgewood.

“Well, it was tough, you know, in 2020 would have been our annual event, but we had to close like everyone else,” said Tony Mora, president, talent coordinator and webmaster of Southwest Pickers. “We kind of maintained our tradition, because we produced it virtually, but we didn’t call it what others kind of called theirs, a festival, we just wanted to keep our stuff.”

This year’s co-headliners feature up-and-coming bluegrass band, The Hillsiders, who mix old school and bluegrass genres.

“This year we moved our events from a larger venue to a smaller venue,” Mora said. “In doing so, we thought it would be less intrusive and more opportunistic, in fact, for more local entertainment.”

This celebration of traditional acoustic music includes a mix of bluegrass, old times, traditional Appalachian dulcimer, Americana, and various folk concerts, as well as workshops, open mics, banjo raffles, and hosting and other activities for the whole family.

Another group, The Rifters, hail from southern Colorado and northern New Mexico and will mesmerize the crowd with a range of musical genres collectively referred to as Americana.

An interesting band is made up of school kids called the ATC Acoustic Band, hailing from the Academy of Technology and Santa Fe Classics.

“So it’s part of our continuing education initiatives to have groups trying to encourage young people who might be interested in this type of music and entertainment,” Mora said. “So the ATC Spring group has been in place for a number of years and they have a great instructor in Eric Carlson who has been involved and does a great job of gathering samples to bring to our events.”

The ATC Group is one of the annual chapters of the event.

“I think we’ve had a set of this band, at least five or six times, so we really like knocking them down, they’re always a crowd favorite,” Mora said.

Also on display are The Crooked and The Cracked, Kitty Jo Creek, the High Desert Rangers, ABQ Skeleton Crew, dulcimer virtuosos David and Annette Lindsey, and a falconry exhibit presented by world-renowned falconer Tom Smylie.

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