First National Folk Festival Artists Announced

The National Folk Festival announced today the first group of artists who will be performing in downtown Greensboro from September 8 – 10, 2017. The 77th National Folk Festival in 2017 marks the event’s third year of its three-year residency in Greensboro.

Approximately 300 artists—musicians, dancers, storytellers, and craftspeople—will take part in the National Folk Festival, with more than 30 different musical groups performing on as many as seven outdoor performance venues throughout downtown Greensboro. The eight artists announced today include:

  • Dale Ann Bradley – Bluegrass: Five-time winner of the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Female Vocalist of the Year award, Dale Ann Bradley is acknowledged as one of bluegrass music’s greatest singers.
  • Feedel Band – Ethiojazz: classic Ethiojazz marries traditional Ethiopian pentatonic melodies and rhythms with the jazz, funk, and soul sounds of African American artists like Benny Carter and Maceo Parker.
  • Marshall Ford Swing Band – Western swing: With their classic “hot fiddling” and “rhythmic syncopation mixed with playful vocals,” the Marshall Ford Swing Band has been called “the perfect Austin, Texas musical experience.”
  • Mary Jane Lamond & Wendy MacIsaac – Cape Breton singling and fiddling: Lamond and MacIsaac thrill listeners with “a delicate balance between…the melancholy of Gaelic song and the joy of fiddle music.”
  • Sri Lankan Dance Academy of NY – Traditional Sri Lankan dance: from Staten Island’s vibrant Sri Lankan community, this group is introducing American audiences to the intricate footwork and the acrobatic leaps of Kandyan dance.
  • The Beat[box] Goes On: Rahzel, Nicole Paris and Ed Cage – Beatboxing: The head-turning vocal abilities of Rahzel, Nicole Paris and Ed Cage have redefined the possibilities of human voice. Born in New York City’s working-class African American communities in the late 1970s, beatboxing is a form of vocal percussion considered the “fifth element” of hip hop culture.
  • The Fairfield Four – African American gospel quartet singing: The Fairfield Four is the most distinguished traditional African American a cappella gospel quartet working today, celebrating 96 years of bringing the gospel message to audiences worldwide.
  • Tremé Brass Band – New Orleans brass band: Central to the musical traditions of New Orleans are the African American brass bands that play for traditional funerals and street parades. Among the most beloved is the Tremé Brass Band, known internationally through their recordings and tours as well as their role in Spike Lee’s Katrina documentary When the Levee Breaks.


After a tragic Raleigh accident, Hiroshi Arakawa aims to play bluegrass again

After a tragic Raleigh accident, Hiroshi Arakawa aims to play bluegrass again

As he spoke, a scar on Arakawa’s throat was still visible – marker of a horrific Thanksgiving car accident that hospitalized him for 72 days. Always slightly built, Arakawa looked even thinner after 10 weeks in the hospital, nearly half of it with a trachea tube.

Arakawa finally got out of the hospital last week and is staying with friends in Raleigh before going home to Japan in March. Eventually he’ll come back to America and try to pick up where he was in the bluegrass program at East Tennessee State University

Memories of Alan Jabbour in the Field: Visiting the Hammons Family | Folklife Today

This recollection is in memory of the Center’s founding director, Alan Jabbour, who died on January 13, 2017, and whose career and contributions are described in this blog post.  Today’s text and photographs are by Carl Fleischhauer, a retired American Folklife Center staff member and a colleague of Alan’s for 46 years

Why Phil Ochs is the obscure ’60s folk singer America needs in 2017 – The Washington Post

It isn’t often that Ochs, who died four decades ago and is mostly unknown to those born since the 1970s, gets even a brief moment of mainstream recognition. Yet as we enter the Trump era, and as a new mass protest movement begins to take shape, his music would be worthy of a revival. Taken together, his songs offer an exceptionally compelling tour of the deepest questions currently confronting liberals — questions about democracy, dissent and human decency in a grim political age.

Phil Cohen: From Chapel Hill bus driver to labor activist to author: My Jan 22 2017 Chapel Hill News column

Phil Cohen: From Chapel Hill bus driver to labor activist to author

Once a gypsy cab driver, he became a labor union organizer. His experience in the local for Chapel Hill bus drivers thrust him into textile union work and a bitter struggle in Jackson, Tennessee. Last summer the University of Tennessee Press published his book recounting that battle between workers and owners

Autocracy: Rules for Survival | by Masha Gessen | NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books

But Trump is anything but a regular politician and this has been anything but a regular election. Trump will be only the fourth candidate in history and the second in more than a century to win the presidency after losing the popular vote. He is also probably the first candidate in history to win the presidency despite having been shown repeatedly by the national media to be a chronic liar, sexual predator, serial tax-avoider, and race-baiter who has attracted the likes of the Ku Klux Klan. Most important, Trump is the first candidate in memory who ran not for president but for autocrat—and won.

I have lived in autocracies most of my life, and have spent much of my career writing about Vladimir Putin’s Russia. I have learned a few rules for surviving in an autocracy and salvaging your sanity and self-respect. It might be worth considering them now: