Music runs deep in Musicfest family

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Margo Pedrick is 57 years old, and for all of those years that she can remember, her extended family has been gathering in the summer to camp out on Slater Creek near the Colorado-Wyoming border.

Many of the campers were musically inclined, and before long, the campfire circle would break out singing and playing guitars, mandolins and harmonicas.

"I've been coming here all of my life," Pedrick said. "In the 1900s, Uncle Ike and Aunt Gretchen (Hancock) took over the Elk Ranch on Slater Creek."

Jo Klendshoj acquired Elk Ranch after the passing of the Hancocks, and she kept the Labor Day campouts going.

In 2002, with the help of Linda Fleming, a county commissioner in Carbon County, and the Museum Board in Savery, Wyo., a music festival was born at the Little Snake River Valley Museum.

Musicfest is in its fifth year, playing to a crowd of mostly locals from Baggs, Dixon and Savery. People driving up from Craig take picnic lunches and enjoy the grassy lawns and picnic tables while wandering the museum buildings.

Throughout their visit, the sounds of musicians, singing as if around a campfire, drift through the air.

"I learned to fish on Slater Creek," said Kelly "Moon" McGinnis. "I worked for Ike on the ranch. Put in fence, dug the well. It's sort of a coming home thing."

McGinnis sings and plays guitar and harmonica at the festival. He's now a songwriter in Denver when he's not working as a carpenter to make a living.

"I play more urban music. I'm not a rancher," McGinnis said. "The people in this valley have roots. It's great to see their faces when we're playing."

Of the 20 to 30 people camping at the creek, some are the next generation of musicians, learning their instruments around the campfire, and at school.

Anthony Limon is a 25-year-old music student at the University of Colorado in Boulder, and a son of Pedrick's.

He began playing piano when he was 6 years old, and he also plays violin.

"Music is totally in my blood," Limon said. "Everybody you see on stage is related to me somehow."

Limon collaborates on songs with Isaac Faulk, a 17-year-old attending Boulder High School, and also a son of Margo Pedrick.

"I come from a hard-rock, heavy-metal background," Faulk said. "Today, though, it's all acoustic. No hard rock in Savery."

Dan Pedrick is a mental health judge in Albuquerque, N.M., and a guitar player for the Musicfest. His specialties are country, classic rock and some folk music.

"I'm here for the fly-fishing and the music," Dan Pedrick said. "You've got to take breaks from working. I've got to do this music."

As the musicians enter and leave the stage, some playing and some taking a break, the music flows and ebbs like the water on the banks of Slater Creek.

Locals from the Little Snake River Valley tap their feet in approval, smile and occasionally sing along.

For Doug McGinnis, owner of a drywall patching business in Boulder, it's great to be back in the valley.

"This place never changes. I always come back here," McGinnis said.

He has been camping with friends and relatives for a couple of days now, and he said the songs always sound better around a campfire. He hopes to someday have success as a songwriter.

"I've been writing songs for 30 years," McGinnis said. "There are a couple of keepers there. It's a lot like fishing."

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