Thursday, May 18, 2006

National Folk Festival Line-up Announced

The National Folk Festival has announced its first eight performers. The line up looks amazing.
I just wish I could figure out a way to see them all! The festival is Oct 13-15 on Brown's Island and Tredegar. For more info go to their web site.

Here is the line up:
Chuck BrownInventor of “go-go” music
Affectionately known as the “Godfather of Go-Go,” Chuck Brown pioneered a musical blend of Latin beats, African call-and-response chants, rhythm and blues, and jazz that has been identified with Washington, D.C. for more than 40 years. Go-go in this case is not the popular music of the 1960s that inspired a dance and fashion craze, but rather a dance music and social scene deeply rooted in our nation’s capital. Likening Chuck Brown to another musical pioneer, Bill Monroe, ethnomusicologist Kip Lornell says that Brown “remains among the few 20th-century American vernacular musicians who clearly developed and shaped a musical genre from its infancy to a more mature state.”
Brown was born in North Carolina, but his parents moved to the District of Columbia when he was seven. He grew up listening to jazz and blues and took up playing the guitar. In the early 1960s, he began performing with a Latin-inflected pop band called Los Latinos. Brown eventually broke away to pursue his own artistic path and formed a group called the Soul Searchers. In 1971, they recorded “We the People,” said by many to be the first recording with the distinctive go-go sound. Brown’s 1978 album Bustin’ Loose with the #1 hit single of the same name spread this regional music to a national audience.
Go-go, as played by Chuck Brown, is quintessentially a spontaneous, live performance experience. Over several hours on stage in a crowded dance club the beat never stops. The interaction between Brown and his audience is an integral part of the performance, with call and response repartee between each song. The song may go on for five minutes or may be just a verse or two, depending on Brown’s whim.
Today, this sound is heard in clubs and dance halls, as well as on the playgrounds and street corners, of the nation’s capital. The music has a large international following and Brown spends much time touring Europe and Asia. In 2000, go-go music was featured at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, and Brown was presented with the District of Columbia’s Mayor’s Arts Award for his pioneering contributions to the music of the city. Last year Brown was honored with a National Heritage Fellowship award from the National Endowment for the Arts for his contribution to African American vernacular music.
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Kenny & Amanda Smith BandContemporary bluegrass
The Kenny & Amanda Smith Band combine tight harmony singing with brilliant instrumentation and compelling repertoire to forge one of the most exciting sounds in bluegrass today. The musical and romantic connection between its namesakes led to the band’s creation five years ago, followed by a rapid ascent to the first ranks of bluegrass music.
Kenny Smith, originally from Nine Mile, Indiana, is widely considered to be one of the finest flatpickers of his generation. A winner of numerous guitar contests, and two-time International Bluegrass Music Association Guitarist of the Year award winner, Kenny spent six years in the 1990s with the acclaimed Lonesome River Band after a two-year stint with Claire Lynch and the Front Porch String Band. In 1997 Kenny recorded a solo album, Studebaker, which showcased his songwriting talent and his wife’s soulful singing
Amanda was born in the small town of Davisville, West Virginia, and grew up singing in church choirs and talent contests at local fairs. She began playing guitar in high school and was attracted to bluegrass through female artists such as Alison Krauss, Claire Lynch and Rhonda Vincent. She met Kenny in 1995 at a Lonesome River Band concert and the two began playing music together shortly after that. At this point Amanda already had two solo CDs to her credit.
In 2001 Kenny and Amanda gathered some of their favorite musicians together and recorded their first CD, Slowly but Surely, which surged up the bluegrass charts on the strength of the hit song, “Amy Brown.” Two short years later the band won the IBMA’s prestigious Emerging artist of the Year award, and a second CD on the Rebel label, Always Never Enough, has cemented their reputation as one of the most exciting new bands in the genre.
In addition to Kenny and Amanda, the band features the fluid mandolin playing of Jason Robertson, from Giles County, Virginia. Robertson, who met Kenny at the world famous Galax Fiddlers’ Convention in southwestern Virginia, grew up surrounded by family members who played. The newest member of the group is 17-year-old banjo player Jason Davis from Ford, Virginia, an astonishing young talent.
Kenny and Amanda now make their home in Meadows of Dan, Virginia.
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Le Vent du NordQuebecois music, song and dance
Le Vent du Nord is recognized as one of the best traditional Quebecois music ensembles performing today. The group consists of step dancer and accordionist Benoit Borque, pianist and vocalist Nicolas Boulerice, fiddler Olivier Demers, and guitarist Simon Beaudry.
For more than three centuries the songs, tunes and dances brought to New France (Canada) by French immigrants in the 17th and 18th centuries have been passed down in the towns and villages of Quebec province at soirees and other family and community gatherings. When Canada became a British colony in 1763, these traditions were preserved in relative isolation in French-speaking communities throughout Quebec. While the songs and stories were passed down in the mother tongue, the tunes and dances were eventually somewhat influenced by the music of their Irish and Scots neighbors, evolving into a distinctive French Canadian body of music. Members of Le Vent du Nord recall the spirit and energy of this venerable tradition in every show by performing the old tunes and traditional chanson a respondre (call and response songs) that they learned from their families.
Benoit Borque, one of Canada’s finest step dancers, has been representing traditional Quebecois culture for over twenty years, through his step dancing, singing and story telling, and instrumental performances. Borque is a founding member of famed ensembles Eritage and Matapat, and is a former member of Ad Veille Que Pourra. Nicolas Boulerice grew up singing the family songs collected by his father. His passion for traditional music led him to travel and perform throughout Quebec and later to France and Ireland where he learned to play and make a European stringed instrument known as the hurdy gurdy (or in French, vielle à roue — “wheel fiddle”). Olivier Demers is an accomplished violin player trained in classical and traditional music who had toured with a number of groups including La Bottine Souriante, Montcorbier, and with Senegalese artist Musa Dieng Kala. Simon Beaudry was born in Saint-Côme, in the Lanaudière region of Québec that is recognized for the richness of its traditional songs and musical heritage. At 12 years old, Simon started to play the guitar and sing traditional Quebecois repertoire with his father and brothers.
In 2004, Le Vent du Nord won a JUNO award for Roots and Traditional Album of the Year/Group. They were also nominees for the 2004 FELIX Award for Traditional Album of the Year and the 2004 OPUS Award for Concert of the Year/Jazz and World Music.
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Mahotella QueensSouth African mbaqanga
Together for over 40 years, the Mahotella Queens are the most famous performers of the urban South African music known as mbaqanga. In the early ‘60s, the Queens - Hilda Tloubatla, Mildred Mangxola, and Nobesethu Mbadu - joined forces with the legendary Simon Nkabindé Mahlathini (the “Lion of Soweto”) and the Makgona Tsothle Band to create mbaqanga, a fusion of traditional South African tribal musics with marabi (a South African jazz form), blues, soul, and gospel.
"Mbaqanga" is the Zulu word for a kind of dumpling, implying the homemade quality of the music’s origin. It grew out of earlier styles that were the lifeblood of South Africa’s illegal township shebeens and dancehalls in the first half of the twentieth century. South African tribal musics, Zulu, Sotho, Shangaan and Xhosa, among others, were a vital part of the mix, along with pennywhistle kwela, sax jive, African choral music, and most notably, marabi. Marabi was a kind of African ragtime featuring piano, pennywhistle, banjo and drums with singers improvising staccato lines steeped in Zulu tradition.
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens played beer halls and township dances in South Africa. Their original sound came to be dubbed the “indestructible beat of Soweto”, and their solid four-to-the-floor dance rhythm and soaring vocal harmonies came to embody the spirit of the oppressed peoples of the townships. They took a break in the mid-‘70s to raise families, but reunited with Malathini to tour in 1987 and took audiences in Europe and the U.S. by storm. Following the tragic death of Mahlathini and the dissolution of the Makagona Tsothle Band in 1999, the Mahotella Queens rallied and reinvented themselves, and are back in full swing with a national tour and a new CD titled Sebai Bai. In 2000, they received the second annual WOMEX (Worldwide Music Expo) Award, presented for outstanding contribution to world music. At the award ceremony, it was said that “the Mahotella Queens represent so much of what is the best in the music of South Africa: the finely honed art of passionate singing, the latticework of funky rhythms, and the breathtaking art of spectacular live performance.”
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The Quebe Sisters BandTexas fiddling
Three lovely, talented young fiddling sisters from Burleson, Texas are creating quite a stir. The Quebe sisters, Grace, Sophia, and Hulda, play and sing western swing, vintage country and traditional Texas fiddle tunes often in three-part harmony. Before any of them reached their teens, the sisters went to a fiddle contest near their hometown and fell in love with music. "I don't know why we do it," Grace says. "No one ever made us play together. And we all started at the same time so we're all at the same level." Now they are dedicated to playing the fiddle and learning about old-time music.
The Quebe sisters have all been Texas State Champion fiddlers, and each has won titles at the National Old-Time Fiddlers Contest in Weiser, Idaho Hulda won the title of National Junior-Junior Champion, and Grace and Sophia took first and second place, respectively, in the National Junior Championships.
Red Steagall was quoted in the Fort Worth Star Telegram as saying, "I think they're some of the most talented young people I've ever heard. Their tone is so true--they play so well together . . . People just stand around in awe when they play." The highlight of the girls' young careers to date was being invited by Nashville star Ricky Skaggs to perform as his guests at the 78th birthday celebration of the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, TN. They also were showcased several times on WSM Radio in Nashville, as well as performing on the Ernest Tubb Midnite Jamboree.
Besides the Grand Ole Opry, the Quebe Sisters Band has performed at Texas Christian University in Ft. Worth before the Duchess of York, on T-Bone Burnett's Great High Mountain Tour with Alison Krauss, at the National Cowboy Hall of Fame, at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, and opened for Ray Price and for Riders in the Sky. Recently the sisters recorded their first CD, titled Texas Fiddlers. The sisters are accompanied on guitar by their accomplished fiddle teachers, Joey and Sherry McKenzie, and by bass player Mark Abbott.
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Santiago Jiménez, Jr.Conjunto tejano
Santiago Jiménez, Jr. from San Antonio, Texas, is a singer, accordion virtuoso and bandleader of the first rank. He is one of the major figures in conjunto, a unique American regional music born in the valley of the Rio Grande along the Texas-Mexican border. A member of one of the “first families” of conjunto music, he is heir to a rich family tradition of button accordion playing. His grandfather Patricio Jiménez played the accordion, and his father, Santiago, Sr. became one of the seminal figures in the rise of the conjunto, virtually inventing the conjunto instrumental style, and was one of the first to make phonograph recordings, and appear on the radio in the 1930s. Santiago, Jr.'s older brother, tejano accordionist Leonardo "Flaco" Jiménez, has become well known through his performances with country and western stars and popular music crossover groups.
Santiago Jiménez, Jr. has long preferred to model himself more closely on his father's lively melodic style, a style that is identified with the roots of the tradition. Conjunto (literally “group” in Spanish) is a lively dance music that began to develop in the late 19th century when German, Czech, and Polish immigrants introduced the button accordion into Mexican working class communities in southern Texas. By the early 1930s, the modern conjunto style emerged as a boisterous and distinctive Tex-Mex fusion that revolved around the sounds of the accordion and the bajo sexto, a 12-stringed guitar-like instrument that added a bass rhythm. Bass and drums were added later.
Santiago made his first recording in 1958 at the age of seventeen, with his brother Flaco, entitled El Príncipe y el Rey del Acordeón (The Prince and the King of the Accordion). Since then, he has made over sixty recordings. Santiago Jiménez has toured widely throughout the United States and to Europe and the Americas -- including Russia, Great Britain, Spain, France, and Mexico.
In the contemporary world of tejano music, Santiago Jiménez, Jr. is seen as a standard bearer of deep conjunto tradition, a lively performer, and a man of great humor and wit. He has been honored with two Grammy nominations and was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship by the National Endowment for the Arts in 2000 for his contributions to the tradition of conjunto music.
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The SkatalitesJamaican ska
The members of the Skatalites are living legends of Jamaican music, founding fathers of the modern Jamaican sound. Four decades ago the group virtually invented ska, the upbeat dance music that spawned rock steady and reggae, and inspired three waves of British and American ska revivalists. A triumphal 1983 reunion performance at the Reggae Sunsplash festival led the group to reform themselves on a permanent basis in 1986. For nearly twenty years, the modern incarnation of this legendary band has brought classic ska to audiences around the world. Billboard has called the group ". . . Jamaica’s supreme instrumental band,” and Rolling Stone’s description is: “The Skatalites – Jamaica’s answer to the Motown house band and Booker T. and the MG’s combined.”
The ska style began to emerge in the mid-1950s along with Jamaica’s fledgling recording industry. The Skatalites were a group of Jamaica’s top session musicians who had played together in various groupings for years, both on the resort circuit and in the studio. While not really setting out to do so, their fusion of mento (a Jamaican folk style with similarities to calypso), New Orleans R&B, jazz, jump blues and Afro-Cuban rhythms created ska, the first uniquely Jamaican popular music. Characterized by jazzy solos over a galloping rhythm section, ska featured lots of horns (saxophones, trumpets, trombones). Its rhythms are distinctive, easily recognized by the sharp accents on the offbeat (the second and fourth beats in 4/4 time). Ska was an immediate hit with the Jamaican public and later worldwide.
No other group from the formative years of Jamaican popular music has had as much influence as the Skatalites. Seminal recordings like “Guns of Navaronne,” “Addis Ababa,” “Silver Dollar,” “Phoenix, City,” “Corner Stone,” and “Blackberry Brandy” to name just a few, created a new genre that defined Jamaican music throughout the 1960s, and was the island’s premier musical export. It’s impossible to overestimate the Skatalites’ place in modern Jamaican musical history. Ska, rock steady, reggae, it all began with the Skatalites.
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Yuqin Wang & Zhengli XuChinese rod puppetry
For more than 2,500 years, master puppeteers in China have entertained and instructed audiences young and old with their strikingly lifelike rod puppets. The traditional puppet stories, which feature both animals and humans, often include social or moral lessons about kindness, hard work, bravery and patience, much like Aesop's fables. Other tales, for instance the popular "clever monkey" stories, have similarities to trickster tales told all around the world.
While its appeal is universal, the rod puppetry tradition is uniquely Chinese, a respected art form that can be dated back to 581 B.C. The puppets, which can weigh up to ten pounds and stand two or three feet tall, are capable of subtle and highly realistic movement. Each is mounted on a central rod, which allows the puppet to be held high above the puppeteer, with thinner rods allowing the master to manipulate the character's limbs. Puppet makers in China often spend time watching animals in their natural habitat or in the zoo to be certain that they understand the animal and its movements completely before building a puppet.
Yuqin Wang and her husband and fellow performer, Zhengli "Rocky" Xu, were both leading puppeteers with the famous Beijing Puppet Theater. They founded their own puppetry troupe when they came to Oregon from China in 1996. In their first year, the group was invited performers at the Atlanta Summer Olympics; now they share the beauty and excitement of Chinese rod puppetry with audiences throughout the country. In 2004, Yuqin Wang and Zhengli Xu were named National Heritage Fellows, this nation's highest honor for folk and traditional artists.
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