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click to enlarge Ryan Roberts of Absynth Quintet - PHOTO BY BOB DORAN
  • photo by Bob Doran
  • Ryan Roberts of Absynth Quintet

 It's that time of year again, time to live the folk life with the Humboldt Folklife Society. It may not seem possible, but Folklife's annual summer music marathon has grown even larger with 10 events spread over nine days. It all starts on that lucky day, Friday the 13th, with the first of two barn dances at the Arcata Veteran's Hall. This Friday has Sue Moon calling English country-style dances with her band Wild Rumpus playing the music, and callers Mike Mulderrig and Matthew Marshall working with fiddlers Blake Ritter and Sam McNeil. Next Friday, July 20, at the same location, Striped Pig Stringband plays for dancing with Gabe Strand calling the moves. The fun starts at 7:30 p.m. both nights.

Saturday, July 14, the action moves to Blue Lake with a festival kick off party at 5 p.m. at the Mad River Brewery Taproom featuring The Pilot Rock Ramblers and The Spindrifters.

Sunday, July 15, is Blue Lake's annual town party, Annie and Mary Day. It starts early with breakfast at the Mad River Grange followed by a parade at 11 a.m. with samba drummers and dancers, Dell'Arte clowns, giant puppets and the like. The Folklife folks run the music stage at Perigot Park with Sam McNeil's Academy Fiddlers at noon followed by Mon Petit Chou with Quebecois tunes, Blake and Rich playing old time, The Lonesome Roses with folky songs, bluegrass by Clean Livin' and UKEsperience's ukulele grooves. There's also a classic car show, a baseball game and more of Blue Lake's take on all-American fun.

The Fest contunues Monday, July 16, with a two-fer at Dell'Arte: a free early evening show (at 5:30 p.m.) in the Rooney Amphitheater with Jill Pettrica leading The Scotia Band, followed by Songwriter Night at 7:30 p.m. in the Carlo. This year's all-male line-up incudes Marc Jeffares from The Trouble, John Luddington from Absynth Quintet, Jaese Lecuyer, who used to direct the Arcata Interfaith Gospel Choir, and the Journal's own Andrew Goff of Seven-O-Heaven fame. 

Folklife gets jazzy Tuesday, July 17, collaborating with the Redwood Jazz Alliance for a Jazz Night in the Carlo featuring my former neighbor, the cool bassist Shao Way Wu, returning from his new digs in Portland for the occasion. Wu is joined by keyboardist Tim Randles (from the Mary Jane band etc.) and drummer Mike LaBolle, then later plays with The Coconini Trio with Jill Pettrica on woodwinds and drummer Tommy Fitzmaurice. In between it's the festival's one ringer: Victor and Penny, a ukulele/guitar duo from the Midwest singing music they call "antique pop," including classic jazz numbers and old time arrangements of modern tunes. 

Country Night, Wednesday, July 18, in the Rooney Amphitheater starts early, at 6 p.m. with SoHum's top country band Twango Macallan followed by Carlota's Ken Jorgensen with Fallin' Rocks, closing with the return of Huckleberry Flint whose stellar set last year was a festival highlight.  

Come back to the Rooney Thursday, July 19, for Bluegrass and Beyond with the Bubbles house band Clean Livin', the rough ‘n' tumble bluegrassy jugband No Good Redwood Ramblers, straight-ahead  bluegrass by The Compost Mountain Boys and a closing set by Absynth Quintet rocketing into someplace in the great beyond.

Friday's above-mentioned Barn Dance should warm you up for what's invariably referred to as "the grand finale," the All Day Free Festival, Saturday, July 21, in and around Dell'Arte with 20 acts or so, a bunch of workshops, Joel Sonenshein's ever popular Beatles' sing-along and more stuff we'll tell you about next week.

Don't miss the handy take-it-with-you pullout in the middle of this paper. For any other details or to keep track of Folklife doings in general, check HFS's new improved website at

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About The Author

Bob Doran

Bob Doran

Freelance photographer and writer, Arts and Entertainment editor from 1997 to 2013.

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