Hearth Music Guide to the 2014 NW Folklife Festival
Each year we put out a Hearth Music Guide to the Northwest Folklife Festival, and this year you’ll need it. Folklife is probably the largest roots music festival in the nation, with about 250,000 people in attendance, hundreds of bands, dozens of stages and thousands of performers. It’s an exercise in controlled chaos, so let’s help you stack the deck to make this the most memorable NW Folklife Festival yet.
By the way, if you’re looking for a TL:DR version of this, just hit up our online schedule and you can follow along with all these suggestions and more. We guarantee you good times if you follow our recommendations: Hearth Music Full Folklife Schedule
The single thing we’re most excited about at Folklife this year is the debut performance of Ethan Lawton in our Hearth Honky-Tonk Showcase. Ethan’s been the Northwest’s secret weapon for years, playing mandolin with Zoe Muth, jamming with all kinds of bluegrass bands, and now drumming in Cahalen Morrison’s country band, but on the side (and in secret) he’s been writing some of the best country/roots songs we’ve ever heard. He slipped us six bedroom demo recordings earlier this year and we’ve listened to them each about 50 times. Everyone we’ve played them for has stopped in their tracks in the first 10 seconds. His sound is something we’ve never heard in roots country, but it’s incredibly compelling.
Growing up in the South end of Seattle, Lawton always loved vintage reggae and rocksteady vinyl records. Somehow he’s worked rocksteady backbeats and a swampy Caribbean breeze into pitch-perfect country songwriting. It’s a sound we’ve never heard before and something we can’t stop listening to. If Lawton ever gets an album together (everyone’s pulling for him!), it’s gonna change the way you think about American roots music. Seriously. So don’t miss his live debut at the Hearth Honky-Tonk Showcase.
Also at the showcase are good friends the Annie Ford Band and Cahalen Morrison’s new band, Country Hammer. Killer Seattle country songwriting and honky-tonkin’. Ballard Ave favorites Country Lips close it out.
Check out an exclusive track from Ethan Lawton. It’s a bedroom demo cut on his iPhone, but you can hear the shape of his music to come:
New Voices of Folklife
I worked as the lead booker for Folklife for six years in the early aughts, and the most powerful part of the festival for me has always been the community coordinators program. Folklife works with key leaders in many different communities throughout the Pacific Northwest, providing them the space and the venue to showcase the music of their community. It’s part of the audacious idea behind Folklife: that the music of our homes and our communities, often far removed from the concert stage, should be allowed to be showcased for all to share. Here are a few New Voices of Folklife that are changing the festival in truly positive ways and are reshaping it to better reflect the true nature of the Pacific Northwest.
Ben Hunter and Joe Seamons
Ben Hunter and Joe Seamons are busy folks these days. In addition to forming the bedrock of nationally touring artist Dom Flemon’s (ex-Carolina Chocolate Drop) band, they also form a duo (and hosts of a concert series) called the Rhapsody Project, and they also have fascinating solo projects. Joe Seamons has his own band, Timberbound, which are dedicated to unearthing and celebrating lost music treasures from Oregon’s forest and logging communities, and Ben Hunter runs a couple nonprofits in Seattle, including Community Arts Create–an innovative nonprofit that recently created a community arts space in the South end of Seattle, the Hillman Collaboratory Center. Ben and Joe’s energy seems inexhaustible and they’re leading a movement of younger traditional arts professionals that’s starting to take serious root in the region.
Hearth Music: How did you first get into Folklife?
Joe Seamons: I first attended for fun in 2009, and ended up busking with some friends. As I was playing a Woody Guthrie song, Janet Stecher passed by and said, “You need to apply to play in this festival next year.” She came by later and handed me an application. Thanks to her, we got Renegade Stringband [Joe’s other band] to play a choice gig on the Labor Stage at a classy indoor theater and, not only did we have a blast, we also sold a ton of CDs. We have been busking enthusiastically at the festival ever since, because it is absolutely the best place to busk anywhere. We’ve had multiple wedding gigs and even a show for the Gates Foundation come about as a result of being heard and seen busking at Folklife.
Ben Hunter: I first got into Folklife three or four years ago. I think it is one of the finer festivals around. That it is free, and encompasses so much more than just music is really amazing. It is a gem, in my mind, for this city. I hope people realize how much work goes into it, and make sure it doesn’t go anywhere. [Folklife] is a place where people with different styles, backgrounds, histories and stories come together through common ground of the folk spirit. This culmination and dissemination of stories is really magical.
How has the culture of the Pacific Northwest changed your perspective?
JS: The culture here is live-and-let-live, but also very proactive and communally engaged. It encourages and nurtures artists while also challenging them. It doesn’t condemn dramatic reinterpretations, but it also–and this is due to our geographical separation from the East Coast and the South–strongly encourages us to closely study and absorb the music that created our culture. I am driven by the impulse to make music that reflects our region as keenly and as beautifully as the music of Appalachia or the Mississippi Delta region reveals the character of those places and people.
BH: What drew me to Seattle in the first place was the music and culture scene, not quite found in the Southwest [where Ben is from]. That I’ve been able to learn and play with some great musicians, and have the ability to do some pretty creative, impactful things with Community Arts Create, has definitely been a product of the vibrancy and energy that I’ve found having lived in the Pacific Northwest.
Ben Hunter & Joe Seamon’s Rhapsody Project Showcase
Friday, May 23, 6:30-9pm, at the Trad Stage
Featuring Ben Hunter & Joe Seamons, Timberbound, and the Wobbly Stringband
Matt Sullivan, Light in the Attic Records
Light in the Attic Records are a pioneering record label that specializes in reissues of obscure older material, usually off LPs or 45s. They’re clearly addicted to old mysteries, as many of their projects require months of detective work and careful sleuthing to track down older musicians. The stories behind their reissues are often just as compelling as the music they’ve unearthed. Label founder Matt Sullivan has been working with Northwest Folklife for the past few years, particularly around the project Wheedle’s Groove–a large reissue uncovering the lost history of Seattle’s soul and funk scene in the 1970s (a scene that brought up Kenny G and Quincy Jones, among others).
A year or so ago, Folklife and Light in the Attic Records brought together the surviving members of this scene for an all-star showcase on the Mural Amphitheater. This year, Light in the Attic is screening the full-length documentary on Wheedle’s Groove. I just picked it up from the Sub Pop airport store (which is rad!), and the documentary does an amazing job of showing the vibrancy of Seattle (and the Central District) in the ’70s, as a scene that should have gone national but instead bubbled just under the surface.
What attracted you to working with Folklife?
Matt Sullivan: It’s a Northwest tradition. My business partner and I are both originally from Bellevue. We went to Bellevue High School. We grew up in the Northwest and would, of course, go to Folklife. I moved down to Los Angeles about 4 years ago to open up an office here. So, there’s 5 of us here in Los Angeles and there’s seven of us in Seattle. We have an office in Ballard. We opened a record store in Ballard recently.
What I find interesting with Wheedle’s Groove is that it seems quixotic to release really obscure music, but with Wheedles Groove, it re-invigorated the community, especially with Folklife and other performances. Are you familiar with that happening with re-releases, that it re-sparks interest within a community?
MS: Yeah, definitely. Music is an inspiring art. Wheedle’s Groove made a mark and had a great presence in Seattle. Former Mayor McGinn made September 3, 2010, Wheedle’s Groove Day. It really has made an impact. A lot of the re-issues tend to do that. Maybe it’s within the community, maybe with the family, maybe with the music scene or a town. Wheedle’s Groove was, for us, something really special, just being from the Northwest. It’s definitely one of the highlights of our 12 years as a label.
Do you think that’s going to happen with Wheedle’s Groove 2 [the second compilation of forgotten Seattle music featuring the transition from soul/funk to disco and hip-hop)?
MS: Yeah. It’s comes out June 3, and it’s the second volume. The first compilation came out in 2004, and it focused on 1965-75. The next volume focuses on ’72-’87 but most of the music on it is from the late ’70s to mid-’80s. These artists are listening to disco and Prince. There is a lot of evolution from the first volume. There are artists that carry over from the first volume into this next volume, but most of the artists are new to the Wheedle’s Groove project. Some are performing and some aren’t. Some are, sadly, deceased and some are doing things other than music.
It’s been a great project. It’s a really hard one tracking all the people down. Jonathon Zwickel and Pat Thomas were a really big part of that and, like Volume One, these were all LPs in 12 inches and 45s.
Are there plans to do a performance of Wheedle’s Groove 2?
MS: Not at the moment. Maybe, over time… We’ve talked about having an event, at least a kick-off party. I don’t know if it’ll have a live element, a live music performance element to it. It’s hard; a lot of the musicians have moved on, aren’t performing live. For us, we respect that and don’t really want to push things with those groups that played before. It just depends on who’s playing and, fortunately, there’s a lot of good players who are still performing from the first volume.
I wouldn’t be surprised if there are shows down the road that involve some of the Volume Two material. We’ll just have to see how it evolves. I think, once the artists on Volume Two see the interest that it’s going to create, they’re going to be excited and surprised as well. Maybe that will inspire them to want to play again.
Wheedle’s Groove, the documentary, screens at Folklife Friday, May 23, 4-5:30pm, at the SIFF Film Center.
Monica Rojas & the DE CAJóN Project
Monica Rojas is an ethnomusicologist and scholar of Afro-Peruvian music and dance and Afro-Latino traditions who’s also a great performer and bandleader herself. She’s been working hard in the Seattle scene to network organizations dedicated to Latino traditions, and her main project now is the network building group MAS–Movimiento Afrolatino Seattle. This soon-to-be nonprofit arts organization is intended to unite many different traditions of African-rooted music in Latin America, and it’s a great initiative. It’s important for people to realize the diversity of Latin American communities in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest. As Monica says, “Our vision is to empower these communities, promote social justice, provide visibility to these pretty invisible communities and through education help eradicate racism and discrimination.”
What do you have planned at Folklife this year? Tell me more.
Monica Rojas: I am directing a project called MÁS–Movimiento Afrolatino Seattle. And, through this project, I am collaborating with a few local Afro-Latino artistic organizations. I am bringing all of them together for this showcase. We have Todo Folklore Cubano, International Capoeira Angola Foundation (ICAF-Seattle), my group DE CAJóN project (Afro-Peruvian music and dance), the Seattle Fandango Project (Son Jarocho from Veracruz), Hagucha Garinagu (Garifuna Roots from Central America), Grupo Bayano (Afro-Puerto Rican music and dance) and we are trying to bring Los Hijos de Agueybana from Puerto Rico.
At this showcase, we will also feature a youth group directed by Juan Huey-Ray on Negro Spiritual song. Our showcase goes 2:00-5:pp p.m. at the Cornish Playhouse. Each group will perform for about 15 minutes and, at the end, we will jam. We will have a season of Afro-Latino arts education events this fall so we will use this event to promote that event and our individual groups and organizations.
How did you first get into Folklife? What does the festival mean to you and your community/communities?
MR: I got into Folklife first back in 1994 when a dance teacher from the University of Oregon saw me dance at an event in Eugene, Ore., and asked me to perform with her group. Since then I have participated with countless groups as musican, dancer, drumming instructor at the rhythm tent and as director of a company and now directing a showcase. Folklife is an opportunity to show your work and to give visibility to your communities and their traditions.
Monica Rojas’ Diaspora Negra: Afrolatino Showcase
Saturday, May 24, 2-5pm, Cornish Playhouse
Featuring Todo Folklore Cubano, DE CAJÓN Project, Seattle Fandango Project, Haguchu Garinagu, Grupo Bayano and Hijos de Agüabaná
Seattle hip-hop artist and cultural activist Draze has been making national waves for his powerfully outspoken video on Seattle’s problems with gentrification. Despite the Pacific Northwest being seen as a bastion for open-minded liberals, both Seattle and Portland suffer from serious problems with gentrification and racism (personal and institutionalized). While Portland police and fire department are shutting down hip-hop shows in white neighborhoods for made-up venue capacity issues, while Seattle is battling one of the last black owned venues in the Central District (Waid’s), and while the Seattle Police Department has a national reputation for excessive force on minorities across the board, Draze and friends have been working tirelessly on his Africatown project, which is based out of Seattle’s historic black community–the Central District or CD.
Africatown is an attempt to reclaim Seattle’s African-American community’s place in the CD, a historic district that has been the center of black community life in the region since the 1800s. Gentrification is rampant in the CD, and people I’ve talked to are being pushed out and are left wondering what happened to the vibrant neighborhood-based culture that was the hallmark of the district.
Draze’s work is essential, especially in lily-white and usually-clueless Seattle. And, it hasn’t been easy. In 2013, after occupying an abandoned school building in the CD to create an alternative to institutionalized schooling that disadvantaged minority youths (a successful occupation that provided much needed services), a standoff with authorities escalated to SWAT teams.
At the Northwest Folklife Festival, Draze will be presenting a showcase–the Sound of Africatown–featuring local artists Global Heat, Yirim Seck, Wyking, and Draze himself.
Hearth Music: Tell me more about the show you have planned for Folklife.
Draze: This show is about introducing the vision of Africatown to the people of Seattle through the music. This show, however, is about more than gentrification. It is the seed that leads to the solution, which is always about people coming together to build stronger communities. A thriving Africatown Central District and South end is good for the economy. It’s good for education, it’s good for diversity, and it’s good for everyone. The music will allow us to eradicate the fear associated with the name Africatown.
I am Africatown, CD, and South end. Both my parents were Zimbabwean musicians who moved to Seattle and became active participants in the music culture of the Northwest. I am proud of the rich heritage that I come from. As a first generation American-born child, I am equally proud and passionate about the hip-hop culture that shaped me. I was literally raised performing marimba music one day and busting rhymes the next. So I figured, what would happen if we put all of that on stage at the same time?
This show is about building a bridge for these worlds to meet. So will we talk about some of the issues plaguing the community? Absolutely. I am a social justice junkie; but the DJ and the Emcee will share the stage with the marimba and the congas and Seattle will get a chance to feel the sound of Africatown.
How did you first get into Folklife? What does the festival mean to you and your community/communities?
Draze: I feel like I was born in this festival. As a young child I played Marimba and Mbira music representing the Shona people of Zimbabwe. Alongside my Father, Dumisani Maraire Sr., and my mother, Lora Chiorah, I feel like we played in Folklife 100 times, but I loved it every time. The people always embraced us with love.
Now that I am a solo hip-hop artist doing my thing. I just want to give that love back. I think I can speak for the hip-hop community, as well, when I say that Folklife has always put forth a diligent effort to ensure that our culture was decently represented. As a Zimbabwean and hip-hop personality, I have witnessed the challenge many artists have faced just trying to find a stage that would embrace our subcultures. I am proud to say that at Folklife we have always felt welcome.
Tell me more about your perspective on gentrification in Seattle. What are some solutions?
Draze: On the topic of gentrification, we can look at past generations and declare how we are different and how we have embraced change but our actions will testify of who we are. While there are multiple contributing factors to gentrification, I am convinced that the solutions are found in bringing people together to have tough discussions. That’s what my video was really about. Getting people to talk. The silence is killing our families and communities. We don’t have to agree, but we have a responsibility to talk. I think gentrification is a topic that makes people feel uncomfortable, because they know once they see the truth they have a responsibility to do something about it. This video, this show and this movement is me doing my part.
Draze’s The Sound of Africatown Showcase
Monday, May 26, 12-1:45pm, EMP Sky Church
Featuring Draze, Yirim Seck, Global Heat, Wyking
Lots of new music coming out of the Northwest these days, and the Northwest Folklife Festival is always a primo way to find new artists. So check out these new albums and artists that we’re really excited about.
Most folks don’t seem to know that Loretta Lynn got her start in Washington State. Lynn and her family moved out to Skagit County to follow the wave of Tar Heel and Southern emigration to the NW’s timber fields. Lynn started performing in public in Blaine, Wash., honky-tonks, before eventually moving away to develop her career.
In a similar vein, folks don’t seem to know that her granddaughter, Tayla Lynn, lives in Seattle and is prepping her debut as a country singer. Once that album (EP, actually) drops, I imagine everyone will be trying to compare her to her grandmother, looking for ways in which her voice or her inflections sound similar.
She sings beautifully and with a heavy twang, so I imagine there are plenty of connections to be made here. But, watch this video of her at KSER FM. She starts talking about this situation exactly and whether she sounds like her grandmother, and I swear I can see her eyes flash fire. There are still anthracite coal fires burning in Appalachia, and not all of these fires are underground. The steely spirit and fiery passion of Southern Appalachia shone through in everything Loretta Lynn did, from her music to her autobiographies and everything else. And, it shines in her granddaughter Tayla Lynn, as well. (Devon Leger)
Tayla Lynn with Grammy Winning Guitarist Eric Tingstad
Saturday, May 24, 4:40-5:10pm, Folklife Café
Portland duo Hillstomp kind of pioneered the Northwest brand of dark, deep country blues that other folks like Lonesome Shack and Gravelroad have taken on. In fact, they were the ones that first got me into the Mississippi hill country trance blues of folks like R.L. Burnside or T-Model Ford. This kind of blues isn’t as popular as it was, say, five years ago, but Hillstomp have always touched as well on good ol’ bluesed-out garage rock. With the Black Keys and Jack White ever in ascendency, it’s a good bet that Hillstomp’s sound won’t get old anytime soon.
Their new album, Portland, Ore., came as a bit of a surprise as both members had been on a break from the band. But, produced by Kevin Blackwell of sister-Portland band Sassparilla, the new album shows Hillstomp haven’t slowed down one bit. Well, actually maybe they have. Whereas before the duo of guitarist/vocalist Henry Kammerer and junk-kit drummer/percussionist/vocalist John Johnson would rage through tranced-out blues numbers like a bunch of thrashing punks, now there are a lot more quiet, subtle moments on the album.
Classic Appalachian ballad “The Cuckoo” gets a softly menacing reboot, and the previous song “Undertow” features some lovely slow banjo lines. Visually, Hillstomp are a blast to watch, so we highly recommend their Folklife show. (Devon Leger)
Sunday, May 25, 8:25-9pm, Fountain Lawn Stage
Part of the Broken-Down Blues Showcase w/The Sumner Brothers and Yada Yada Blues Band
Steep Ravine, a band of Bay Area bluegrass/roots music pickers, dropped a great album in 2013 that I’ve been kicking myself for sleeping on. There’s an uncountable number of bands out there right now mixing acoustic bluegrass instrumentation with singer-songwriter lyricism, but Steep Ravine stand out from the pack immediately.
Their songs are softly heartfelt, but don’t descend into trite territory. Rather, each song unfolds like a little vignette, or maybe like an old black and white photo you find at a thrift store. You don’t get the whole story, and that makes you lean in closer to listen. Their new album, Trampin’ On, is the kind of album to win over tired, overworked community radio music directors, and the kind of music to cool hot brows after a long day of work. It’s also an album that reflects the natural environment of the San Francisco Bay Area where they live, whether it’s quoting Steinbeck or referencing the stiff sea breeze off Monterey Bay. This is an album that you should take time to discover. (Devon Leger)
Friday, May 23, 3:30-4pm, Fountain Lawn Stage
Made up of members of local Balkan heavy weights Orkestar Zirkonium and Nu Klezmer Army, Eurodanceparty USA is not a band, it’s a supergroup With coordinated dance moves and over-the-top costumes that usually reflect some kind of American perspective on early 1990s Eurotrash, Eurodanceparty USA are part Balkan, part 1990’s America-trash-pop, and 100% good time. Seeing this band live is like having your ears glitterbombed for 45 glorious minutes.
You may never even notice that you’re being schooled in some of the richest and oldest traditions of Balkan culture because you’re shaking you booty so hard. There are usually handfuls of Balkan community members sprinkled in the audience, singing along to traditional tunes like “Dola Te Percolla Kah Tetova” and “Kur Me Rrin Karshi Karshi E.” Eurodanceparty USA’s electro-enhanced Balkan folkdance-pop is arranged and performed by American musicians who spend their summers at Balkan Camp, and have found themselves, quite frankly, in the best Balkan band in Seattle. Have a listen here and be sure to check them out at the Folklife Festival’s Balkan Misfit stage. (Mindie Lind)
Saturday May 24, 2014 7:30pm – 8:05pm
Part of Balkan Misfits Party w/Bucharest Drinking Team, Skitnik, Orkestar Zirkonium
These guys sure do look country, but the Colt Kraft Band really is a bootgazin’ ball of beautifully trippy ballads; a very dreamy (cue the keytar), very Northwest indie (flawless vocal harmonies), very spaghetti western (psyched out pedal steel) set of handsomely psychedelic and colorfully catchy tunes.
The real treat here, though, is Colt, who is krafting his signature is-he-serious-or-is-he-smiling style, as heard on Colt Kraft Band’s brand new EP Highschool. The level of heartbreak here is just as much Bill Callahan as it is Bobby Darin, with a strong sense of simplicity, distinction and boyish charm, basically, nothing like actual high school! (Mindie Lind)
Colt Kraft Band
Saturday, May 24, 7-7:30pm
Part of The Spaghetti Northwestern Showcase with Corespondents, Prom Queen, and Pampa
Bill Patton has been playing around Seattle for the better part of 20 years and is widely regarded as the guy you should get to play guitar in your band (and by some pretty big players too: Fleet Foxes, J. Tillman, Poor Moon, Gold Leaves and Low Hums). Now, with this brand new album, A New Kind of Man, Patton is breaking out on his own.
Put out by Light in the Attic subsidiary label, Versicolor, A New Kind of Man is as dreamy as (and much sadder than) albums by label mates and Northwest favorites Grand Hallway and Gabriel Mintz. Patton’s collection of songs are as gloomy as they are good, and as dark as they are delightful, even as he takes on iconic pop tunes, “Jenny From the Block” (Jennifer Lopez) and “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” (Lennon/ McCartney). Patton drones in a dingy gloom rooted in classic jazz and saturated in smoky vocals–not “smoky” as in sultry, more like actual cigarettes–that never really elevate past a mild sustain. With a stylized subtly that is as iconic as the front cover art, A New Kind of Man is attracting all kinds of attention from people like tastemaker and KEXP host, Greg Vandy, who invites Patton–along with other scene newcomers the Americans and Naomi Wachira–to his American Standard Time Showcase. (Mindie Lind)
Monday May 26, 2014 3:30pm – 4:00pm, Fountain Lawn Stage
Part of American Standard Time Showcase with Naomi Wachira and The Foghorns
Jim Faddis / Farmstrong
We’ve worked with Jim before and have always thought he’s a vastly under-rated songwriter. His songs are built so simply and perfectly that folks tend to think they must be easy to write. The fact that he often works in bluegrass, too (with the well-known Big Red Barn band out of Eastern Wash.), keeps him from the dues he deserves as a country/roots songwriter.
Jim’s new album, In My Dreams, came out last year, and it’s a delightful compendium of new songs, all delivered with some of the best roots pickers in the Northwest, and featuring his lovely, gentle vocals. Jim’s solo albums are real slices of Cascadiana, and now that he’s living out in Sequim he’s also been collaborating more with fine folks on the Olympic Peninsula. Among them is another favorite of ours: Cort Armstrong.
Together they’ve formed a new band, FarmStrong and dropped a live album, too–Live in Dungeness: The Summer Sessions. It’s a great blend of old and new songs, drawn from Cort’s background as a killer country blues guitarist and Jim’s interests in bluegrass and roots country. In the group they’re joined by Ricke Meade on vocals/dobor and John Pyles on bass. Both Jim and FarmStrong are playing Folklife and we recommend not missing them.
Monday, May 26, 12:50-1:20pm, Trad Stage
Saturday, May 24, 1:50-2:20pm, Mural Amphitheater
Part of Bluegrass: Hot Picking and Harmonies with Cliff Perry Band, Barleywine Revue, and Renegade Stringband
The Cumberland Brothers
I’ve been hearing about the Cumberland Brothers a lot since they’re lighting up the roots music scene in British Columbia. There’s a reason for this, too: their pitch-perfect blend of early Western music is pretty irresistible.
On their new EP, Gamey, they tap the Jimmie Rodgers vein seemingly effortlessly, writing new songs that are impossible to tell apart from the old classics. They’re going for a brother harmony sound–though I don’t think they’re actual brothers–and they nail that Delmore/Everly Brothers sound seemingly effortlessly. They’re a group to watch, for sure, and a bright shining light on the NW roots music scene.
The Cumberland Brothers
Saturday, May 24, 5:20-5:50, Fisher Green Stage
Part of the New Generation Roots Music Showcase with Armstrong Lawton Katz, Cahalen Morrison & Eli West
We actually recommended Br’er Rabbit last year and are more than happy to recommend them again, based on the strength of their newest album, The Wild North. This group of young roots musicians from Bellingham, Wash., recently went out to ace recording studio Bear Creek and cut the beautiful new album with the same folks that brought out the music of The Lumineers, Fleet Foxes, and many more.You can hear these influences in their music, and they’re part of the clap-and-stomp crew taking Americana music in a much folkier direction. I’m all for it, and I know that, live, Br’er Rabbit are just a blast to watch.
On The Wild North, their songwriting is on full display, and they all have a knack for crafting really fun, catchy hooks that are made to sing along with. And, what lovely voices! Lead vocalists Miranda Zickler and brothers Nathan and Zach Hamer mesh so well together, each one bringing different qualities to the songs they solo on and intertwining gorgeous harmonies throughout. Did I mention they can pick? Yeah, these kids do it all.
Saturday, May 24, 2:30-3pm, Fisher Green Stage
-Copper & Coal: Lovely vintage country twang duo from Portland, Ore. New songs crafted in old honky-tonks. Sat, May 24, 2-2:30, Fountain Lawn Stage
-The Onlies: Young fiddle-driven group that gets better and better. Hugely fun live show and there always bringing new ideas to the mix. Sat, May 24, 1:40-2:15, Fountain Lawn Stage
-Children’s Pete Seeger Sing-a-long: Seeger was a great creator and interpreter of childrens’ music. “Abi-yo-yo” anyone? Sat, May 24, 2-2:50, Cornish Courtyard
-Vela Luka Croatian Dance: ¼ of the residents of Fidalgo Island (Anacortes, WA) descend from another island in Croatia. Fascinating history, fascinating dance. Sat, May 24, 3-5pm, Bagley Wright Theatre
-Armstrong Lawton Katz: Ethan Lawton’s other band. Killer old-time and country blues. Sat, May 24, 4-4:3-pm, Fisher Green Stage
-Cahalen Morrison & Eli West: Our favorite roots duo. Don’t miss them! Sat, May 24, 4:40-5:10pm, Fisher Green Stage
-50 Feet of Song: Mini videos shot with 50 actual feet of 8mm film (3 minute songs). Sat, May 24, 6-7pm, SIFF Cinema Stage
-The Warren G. Hardings: Good buddies and a raging alt-bluegrass stringband. Sat, May 24, 6:45-7:15pm, Fisher Green Stage
-J.W. McClure Jimmie Rodgers tribute: Great local songwriter pays tribute to the first king of rock and roll. Sunday, May 25, 11:40am-12:10pm, Fisher Green Stage.
-La Famille Leger: Our family band. 100% Acadian music from E. Canada. Sun, May 25, 12:20-12:50, Trad Stage
-Robert Sarazin Blake & The Put-It-All-Down-In-A Letters: Good friend and great NW songwriter. Sun, May 25, 12:20-12:50, Fountain Lawn Stage
-The Crow Quill Night Owls: The best jugband in the U.S. Period. Sun, May 25, 1:40-2:10, Fisher Green Stage.
-The Sumner Brothers: Kickass Canadian Americana. Sun, May 25, 7-7:30, Fountain Lawn Stage.
-Hannalee: Utterly charming NW trio of singers in family-like harmony. Monday, May 26, 1:40-2:10pm, Folklife Cafe.
-Naomi Wachira: Utterly lovely and transcendent Kenyan-American singer-songwriter. Mon, May 26, 5-5:30pm, Fountain Lawn Stage.
-Clinton Fearon: True legend of Jamaican reggae. This is the very best way to close out the festival. HIGHLY recommended. Mon, May 26, 8:30-9pm, Mural Amphitheater.
Have Fun Buddies!