Seattle Folk Festival, Dec 12, Alela Diane & Mr. Lif
Hearth Music and Town Hall Seattle are proud to present the first-ever Seattle Folk Festival, coming up on December 12! If you’ve been watching our posts on No Depression, you know that we’ve got an eclectic version of what “folk” means, and this diversity will be well represented at the festival.
Held at Town Hall Seattle on Sunday, December 12, the Seattle Folk Festival features a full day of performers from the Northwest and beyond, and two headliners in the evening: French-Canadian folk trio De Temps Antan and indie-folk shining star Alela Diane & Wild Divine.
If you haven’t heard Alela’s music, she’s been one of the leading voices of what used to be termed “freak folk” (thank god that term finally died). Touring with Iron & Wine and being compared to Devendra Banhart was great for building buzz, but Alela Diane seems to have shrugged off her “passing fad” status, preferring instead to release consistently beautiful and challenging music. Her first album, The Pirate’s Gospel was originally wrapped in grocery bags with hand-drawn ships and swaths of lace stitched to the cover. After its re-release on small, upstart label Holocene Music, and a serious name-dropping in a New York Times article on “freak folk”, Alela Diane’s star shot to the indie folk firmament. She followed The Pirate’s Gospel with the critically-acclaimed To Be Still in 2009 on Rough Trade, an album that fleshed out her organic songwriting and beautifully quirky song structures.
Every Path, from 2009’s To Be Still
We love Alela Diane not just for her dreamy voice and her lyrics, which are the audio equivalent of a long walk through dark woods, but for her connection to our hometown of Nevada City, CA, a beautiful town in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada which has developed quite the indie-folk scene. The iconic singer Joanna Newsom hails from Nevada City, as does Alela’s musical friends Alina Hardin and Mariee Sioux, and a host of lesser-known indie folksters. It’s a magical place, where the deep, dark gold mines and the soft mysticism of the Yuba River have inspired many artists. And this magic shines through in Alela’s songs.
Hollywood “discovers” freak folk? Devendra Banhart used for horror movie trailer!
Headlining the daytime lineup, is a brand-new band brought together JUST for the Seattle Folk Festival. We had the crazy idea of joining hip-hop and Balkan brass, and it turns out that two of the best artists in these genres were totally into the idea! Mr. Lif, a legend of the underground hip-hop scene, will join his scattershot zig-zag rhymes with Brass Menazeri, one of the best Balkan brass bands in the US and masters of the wildly frenetic rhythms of Balkan music.
The Sun, off Lif’s 2009 album, I Heard It Today
We’ve been thinking of Mr. Lif as the 21st century Woody Guthrie. He’s one of the few or only rappers calling out the money-mongers that have driven our economy to its knees. In his 2009 album, I Heard It Today, he shows little patience with the government and the bankers, turning to the street stories he hears all around: families losing their homes, husbands and wives losing their jobs, and the best minds of our generation wasted behind cubicles.
LISTEN to “What About Us” from I Heard It Today
What About Us Lyrics:
I write my rap quotes on bank notes / and bank statements that don’t make sense / around the time it’s time for me to pay rent / my patience is running out / the truth is coming out / abuse of clout / ceo’s using large amounts we could never dream of / for leisure / it’s like we’re in a war without a heater / or broke at a casino / staring at the dealer / light your sensimella / they rush to lock you up for puffing on the stress reliever / and Obama wouldn’t stop em / neither would Mc Cain / let me explain / I got lost playing your game / they pumped a couple slugs in my frame / y’all tax payer slayers / turn the other cheek deregulators / trust betrayers / Reagan, Nixon, and Petraeus poorly portray us / program us just to sway us / promise us favors / then use em’ just to dominate us / Oh now you’re printing $700 Billion just to save the children? / Y’all muthafuckaz bout to make a killin’
We’re at our limit now / enough is enough / you’re sitting on billions of dollars / but what about us?! / No health care / just enough change to ride the muthafuckin’ bus / what about us?! / Our biggest mistake was giving you trust / you living plush / and you don’t give a fuck about us / One government / one world motto / “In God We Trust” / but what about us?!
It’s time we stopped thinking about hip-hop as a solely black, urban art form. Hip-hop has transcended its origins, transcended its own mythology, transcended its corporate controllers, and built a new world. As a third (or fourth?) generation grows into hip-hop, as parents pass their love of the culture to their children, as young kids run back to the source to learn their history, it’s time we realized that hip-hop is the folk music of a new generation. Real hip-hop certainly shares the same core tenets of folk: Truth before Commerce, Community First, Make Music with What You Got Not What You Want, Respect Your Elders, Know Your History, and Fuck the Police!
Johnny Cash / Eazy-E Mashup
De Temps Antan: Powerhouse Folk Trio from Québec
Alela Diane & Wild Divine: Indie Folk Shining Star
Mr. Lif with Brass Menazeri
Jim Page & The Spokes
Cahalen Morrison & Eli West
The Hurricane Ridge Runners
Juan Barco & Paul Anastasio
The Nils Olof Söderbäck Band