July 14, 2005
by Joel Sonenshein
SUMMERTIME ALWAYS BRINGS A PLETHORA OF FOLK FESTIVALS to northern California, including Wild Iris, Strawberry and Kate Wolf. But right here in our own neck of the woods the Humboldt Folklife Society presents its 27th annual Humboldt Folklife Festival next week, as part of Dell'Arte's Mad River Festival. What makes this week-long event so special for us is that it is comprised exclusively of local artists -- and if there are people out there who are still not aware of the fact, we have many incredibly talented musicians among us.
The festival kicks off on July 17 at Blue Lake's Perigot Park with the free Annie & Mary Day Fiddle Festival. The fest starts at 10:30 am with a fiddling open mic followed by performances running from 11:30 to 4:30. Starting off will be the Academy Fiddlers, the McHaney Family and the Fieldbrook Fiddlers. Afterwards, taking their turn on stage will be Bill Hunter and Jason Romero, Musaic, Scatter the Mud and Cuckoo's Nest. Also squeezed into the day will be fiddle style exhibitions. After the performances comes the ever-popular Samba Parade (think Mardi Gras for families) through the streets of Blue Lake, ending at Dell'Arte's annual pageant.
[photo: The Sari Baker Trio]
Every night from Monday through Friday there will be a show presented at the Carlo Theatre. All shows will begin at 7:30. Tickets for each show are $10 general and $8 for HFS members, students and seniors. Advance tickets can be purchased at Wildwood Music, The Metro or The Works as well as Dell'Arte and at their web site, dellarte.com. Get your tickets early, as many of these shows will most definitely sell out, and it's truly a bummer to drive out to Blue Lake only to get turned away at the door.
On Monday, July 18, the first of the weeknight shows kicks off with a Bluegrass Extravaganza. Presenting some of the hottest pickers on the North Coast, this year's lineup includes The Compost Mountain Boys, Second Hand Band, Ridgeline and Tara Baynes. This show has been a perennial sellout, so get those tickets now!
On Tuesday, July 19, the festival presents its first World Music Celebration featuring Irish music by Scatter the Mud, Ladino music by Las Hermanas Fuentes and Peruvian music of the Andes by Huayllipacha (translated as "singing to the earth.")
Songwriters take center stage for the Songwriter Showcase on Wednesday, July 20. The show is hosted by Patrick Cleary, and if you've never heard Patrick laugh, trust me when I tell you that his laugh alone is worth the price of admission. The featured songwriters this year will be Sari Baker, Joel Sonenshein (yours truly), Eileen-Hemphill Haley and a newcomer, soul and bluesman Earl Thomas. If you're not yet familiar with Earl, suffice it to say that he has shared the stage with the likes of Etta James, Ike Turner, B.B. King, Dr. John and Les McCann. The incomparable Tami Pallingston will be providing backup on stand up bass.
On Thursday, July 21, local Native artist, writer and musician Julian Lang will host Native American Myth-Song-Earth-Sky, an evening of songwriting and traditional singing, dance and spoken word from several local tribes. Julian will be joined by fellow singers and students as they bring their stories, laughter and music of the First Peoples that honor the earth, life, death and everything in between. Last year marked the first time the Folklife Society had incorporated a Native American night as part of the festival, and that highly acclaimed sold-out show demanded that a similar show be put on again this year.
For the finale to the evening performances on Friday, July 22, from the traditions of Appalachian string and jug bands, it's the Old Timey Show with Hunchback Sally, Devil's Dream and the Empty Bottle Boys. Given that this music was made for dancing, that is exactly what will follow the performances. A short contra dance will be called by Natalie Cabrera and Justin Boe, so bring your dancing shoes to this one!
On Saturday, July 23, Blue Lake heats up at Dell'Arte with an all-day free festival, an event with something for everyone. There will be three stages of music, instrumental and vocal workshops, a song circle, jams, an open mic, storytelling, kid's activities, crafts and more.
Workshops will begin at 10 a.m., and the music will kick off at noon with the Sari Baker Trio (doing songs from their newly released CD), Wild Iris, David Isley, Joshua Scott, Good Company, Calleagn Kinnamon, Mike McLaren, Joanne Rand, Falling Rocks (check out their great harmonies), Lila Nelson (who tells me she has some new love songs brewing), Cuckoo's Nest, Eileen Hemphill-Haley, Daryl Cherney and the Chernobles, Earl Thomas, The Absynth Quintet, Kulica, the Slewfoot String Band, the Humboldt Accordionaires, Gregg Gold, Robert Rather, Ken Collins, Eric Park, Marty Flashman, Kahish, Steve Lloyd, Charlie Rudd, Moonstone and Championship Fishing. The Acoustic Rubberneckers will close out the festivities on the amphitheater stage. Dan O'Gara and Seabury Gould of the Northcoast Storytellers will spin tales between the early afternoon sets.
The Carlo stage performances will be followed by an open mic at 5 p.m., so for any of you closet performers who would like to experience singing in a beautiful theater, here's your chance. This year's workshops include jazz fiddle, alternate guitar tunings, old-timey fiddle techniques, slide guitar, clawhammer banjo, traditional Irish folk singing, song crafting and harmony singing.
This Humboldt Folklife Festival has something for everyone, adults and children alike. Bring an instrument and join in at the all-day jam zone, come to a song circle and sing your favorite tunes, attend a vocal or instrumental workshop or just chill in the sun and listen to great music. There will also be kids' activities, crafts and food booths. The Annie & Mary Day Fiddle Festival on the 17th and the all day festival on the 23rd are both free and child-friendly. For further information, check out the Society's web site at humboldtfolklife.org. See you there!
For other musical listings, please consult the Calendar.
* Joel Sonenshein, a local musician and songwriter, is one of the coordinators of this year's Humboldt Folklife Festival. He also conducts a monthly song circle for the Folklife Society. Bob Doran is on vacation.
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