New Website!

We are thrilled to have recently launched a new version of our website!

If you are having trouble finding anything, don’t hesitate to email for help.

We hope you enjoy the new site!

Roots & Branches Keeps the Tradition Alive

Folklife is all about traditions: creating new ones and appreciating the older ones. That’s why I’m so pleased to be a part of the Roots & Branches CD series. It continues a long tradition of sharing music with the public, but has evolved over the years to include emerging artists in a wide variety of musical genres (and brought to you on more convenient audio sources).

Pictured here, alongside the latest Roots & Branches compilation, is a Folklife recording on an LP from 1977. Like Roots & Branches Volume 4, only 1,000 copies were made, and just like today, all sales benefitted the Festival.

The 1977 recordings were made in partnership with KRAB radio, a much-loved community radio station whose tradition is kept alive today by Jack Straw Productions. You can click on the image at right to see a larger image of the track listing.

Though much has changed in terms of audio recording technology and album releasing, the heart of Folklife recordings remain the same. And the liner notes are just as true today as they were in 1977:

“Begun in 1972 as a prototype for regional folk festivals around the United States, [Northwest Folklife Festival] presents people ‘doing what they do to entertain themselves , and making things for their own use.’ It is unique as a grass-roots, all-volunteer festival, put on and for the everyday folks who appear in it, and s the largest event of its kind in the country. The Folklife Festival demonstrates that the traditional arts are for all people regardless of age or background, are non-commercial, and in their normal context are practiced in the home and community.”

This is your Folklife. Be a part of it by purchasing your copy of Roots & Branches Volume 4: Live From the 2012 Festival here>

–Kelli Faryar, Programs Manager research paper on nelson mandela

Folklife Helps Create a New Genre: the Folk Opera!

Photo courtesy Debbie Fant

Northwest Folklife brings together thousands of people and artists and engages year-round performance collaborations. One of those collaborations is resulting in a new folk genre. For the 2012 OctoberArts Crush celebration, Northwest Folklife is working with the Seattle Storytellers Guild and the Seattle Labor Chorus to weave stories and songs into “A Revolution of Hope,” a love story that needs amnesty.

Seattle Storytellers Guild member Kathya Alexander created “A Revolution of Hope” in time to add an immigration theme to Columbus Day. Playwright and actress herself, Alexander showcases teller’s narrative skills and the chorus’ musical talents in this two-hour premier work. A former Hedgebrook writer and regular writer/teller at Auntmama’s Storycorner, Alexander is also the author of “Black to My Roots,” “ David and Jonathan,” and “Angel in the Outhouse.”

Alexander uses a café (think Borracchini’s Bakery on Rainier Avenue), as the setting for a modern day love story between young immigrants. The girl has legal status in America, the boy does not and Papa is steaming. This is the intersection of then and now as history comes to life. The show features new stories about The Triangle Shirt Waist Fire, Seattle’s deportation of Filipinos and work in the cotton fields.

Nancy Calos (from Hiroshima to Hope, Trusted Advocates Program) directs the action while Janet Stecher (Rebel Voices, SLC cofounder) conducts the hand clapping, toe tapping and sometimes heart wrenching music.

Northwest Folklife sponsors “A Revolution of Hope” in hopes the creation develops into an original folk opera in time for the Northwest Folklife Festival in 2013. Come see how it all begins and support new art forms in Seattle. Talk back session with audience on immigration issues will follow the performance.  Ten dollar donations asked at the door and no one will be turned away. Accessible physical space.

Read more about the event here>

Stealing My Musical Heart

Special thanks to guest blogger Clay Eals, who will be hosting a special tribute to Steve Goodman at the Historic Admiral Theatre on October 14, kicking off our “Nights for Folklife” series of benefit events.

Unfailing warmth, gentle humor and personal resilience in the face of social and political ills undergird the legacy of Steve Goodman

By Clay Eals

For a singer/songwriter, legacy emerges and endures in two visceral forms:

1. Indelible performances that glow in the collective memory.

2. Compositions whose lyrics and melodies ring timelessly through the ages.

In both ways, Pete Seeger and Steve Goodman have carved unassailable places in musical history. I am thrilled to help connect their music once again with Seattle audiences as part of “Tribute Times Two: Anthems of Activism.” It’s a unique and extraordinary pair of concerts on Sunday, Oct. 14, 2012, at the Historic Admiral Theater in West Seattle. It’s also the kickoff for the fall 2012 “Nights for Folklife” series, and a portion of proceeds will go to Northwest Folklife.

Presenting the Seeger tribute at 4 p.m. is Peter McKee, a singer and banjo/guitar player whom I befriended when he and his folk group Clallam County became part of Seattle’s celebration of Seeger’s 90th birthday three years ago at the Admiral. His one-man, multimedia show weaves together an impressive selection of recordings, images and live performances that reveal the breadth and depth of the legendary humanitarian who at age 93 continues to inspire and cheer us all with his commitment to peace, justice and environmental sustainability.

The evening show at 7 p.m. focuses on the music and story of Goodman, who proudly considered himself one of Seeger’s disciples. Goodman wrote and performed more than 100 songs – and hundreds of songs written by others – for audiences from the tens to the tens of thousands throughout the United States and Europe during a 15-year career before leukemia ended his life here in Seattle in 1984 at age 36.

For the evening show, I will emcee and take part in performances of a rich sampling of Goodman songs that take on a remarkably diverse array of social and political challenges – corporate greed, campaign hypocrisy, commercialism, sexual myopia, global warming, the homefront devastation of war and indifference to bedrock values – with unfailing warmth, gentle humor and personal resilience in the face of it all.

Though I saw him perform only two times, Goodman stole my musical heart, touching me like no other performer. I knew that I wasn’t alone, and a decade of research that culminated in my 800-page biography, “Steve Goodman: Facing the Music” (ECW Press, 2007) confirmed it. His songs, singing and guitar playing, not to mention hundreds of recordings, official and unofficial, combined to make him the most affecting performer I have ever experienced. This is a big part of why the book is, so far and by far, the most significant project of my life.

In 55 musical events in the past five years to promote the book (now in updated third printing), I have found musicians all over the country who know Goodman’s songs and have been eager to perform them on behalf of the book out of the goodness of their heart. In my hometown of Seattle, the stalwart of my events has been Tom Colwell, whose track record as a singer/songwriter and interpreter of others’ music spans more than 50 years. Tom will anchor the Oct. 14 Goodman show, and I am grateful beyond expression for the passion, tenderness and unrelenting life force that he brings to the quest.

Tom’s musical travels and example – including a night in 1978 when he bid Goodman to a Chicago club stage to play with him – resulted in his formation in 2009 of a nine-piece band he dubbed Tom Colwell and The Southbound Odyssey, the name stemming from a phrase in Goodman’s classic “City of New Orleans.”

Two stellar accompanists from that group who also play in other Seattle-area bands will join us on Oct. 14: Bruce Hanson, bassist and harmonica player from Bellevue, andMark Myers of Shoreline, who sings and plays dobro, steel guitar and harmonica.

The roster of musicians for the Oct. 14 show doesn’t end there, however. Reflecting the magnetism of Goodman’s legacy, the show will feature three uniquely appealing musical guests playing Goodman’s tunes:

–  Kat Eggleston, of Vashon Island, for 20 years was a fixture of the Chicago music scene that Goodman anchored and fostered. Kat, whose repertoire spans folk, Celtic and traditional music, brought an audience of 200 to a hush with her tour de force performance five years ago at one of my Goodman events at a college Goodman attended, Lake Forest College north of Chicago.

–  Dan Maher, of Pullman, for more than three decades has helmed the syndicated Inland Folk radio show and brought his encyclopedic and eclectic knowledge of music to bear in truly riveting and powerhouse stage performances. I first encountered Dan in 1991 when he took part in a panel of baseball songs at Northwest Folklife Festival. Dan, who interviewed me extensively on his radio show in 2007, covers a broad musical map, from sea shanties to pop classics.

–  Perry Barber, of New York City, who played with and befriended Goodman in the 1970s, provided invaluable contributions for the Goodman biography and has performed on behalf of the book in Manhattan, Berkeley and twice in the Seattle area. She also is a traveling professional baseball umpire, one of only a handful of women who have worked major-league games (in spring training only, because women umpires still are not allowed to work the regular season).

“Tribute Times Two” promises to be a moving and unforgettable experience, both musically and in the context of the national election three weeks hence. Icing on the cake is the venue – the Historic Admiral Theater, a 1942 art-deco moviehouse that has stood as an official Seattle landmark for 23 years. The price is right ($12 for each show, $20 combo ticket, at Brown Paper Tickets). Add in that it’s a benefit for Northwest Folklife, and it becomes a can’t-miss.

I am so fortunate to be at the core of this presentation. My heartfelt thanks go to the musicians, to Dinah Brein, who manages the Admiral, and to all of you who choose to attend. You won’t regret it. See you there!

Update on Folklife’s Partnership with the Somali Youth & Family Club, with a Video by Doug Plummer

Congratulations to the Somali Youth & Family Club for producing an amazing first showcase this past Saturday at the Creston Point Apartments in Renton!

This summer, Northwest Folklife partnered with Somali communities in King County for a special project funded by the Washington State Arts Commission. With the help of the Community Arts Engagement Mentorship Project (CAEMP)  Northwest Folklife worked with the Somali Youth & Family Club to produce two community performances of the traditional and emerging arts of Somali culture. Last Saturday night’s premier has us all on our toes for the next performance.

Please join us for the second showcase of this exciting new partnership, on November 3rd at the Carco Theatre in Renton, which will feature a theatre presentation with music and dance of the Somali culture. Subscribe to this blog or check back often for more details as the date nears!

Many thanks to filmmaker Doug Plummer for helping us document the occasion:

Somali Showcase at Creston Pt. from Doug Plummer on Vimeo.


New Website in the Works

Festival gates; photo by Bernard Mann

We are thrilled to be launching a new version of our website! We are still in the process of ironing out a few kinks, so bear with us as we restore our old blog and make a few other updates.


If you are having trouble finding anything, don’t hesitate to email for help.


We hope you enjoy the new site!


Northwest Folklife’s Debbie Fant Receives Archie Green Fellowship in Support of “Washington Works” Program

We are excited to announce that Northwest Folklife’s Deputy Director, Debbie Fant, has been awarded an Archie Green Fellowship by the American Folklife Center (AFC) at the Library of Congress! Fellowship funds will support the ongoing project “Washington Works,” a series of interviews with union workers throughout Washington state.

Working in cooperation with the Washington State Labor Council, Debbie will conduct approximately fifty interviews with a representative cross-section of Washington’s union workers, from farm workers to nurses, construction workers to teachers, bus drivers to machinists. The interviews will cover many topics: a description of a particular job, the way it’s done now with a comparison to the way the interviewee learned to do the work, tales connected with the kind of work being performed,  family dynasties in unions, uniforms or clothing, strikes, food on the job, jokes, and comeuppances.
The interviews will be used as the basis for video documentaries, radio programs, website enrichment, and public programming at the 2013 Northwest Folklife Festival. Each interview will be deposited in the archives of the Library of Congress. In addition to augmenting the AFC’s collection of Washington state materials, copies will also be deposited at the Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies at the University of Washington in Seattle.
This fellowship comes at the perfect time for Northwest Folklife. We will be featuring occupational folklore as the Cultural Focus for the 2013 Northwest Folklife Festival! In recent years the Cultural Focus has also guided year-round programming. We look forward to presenting monthly programs that honor the culture and traditions of the region’s workers throughout 2013.
In the past, Debbie coordinated the Cultural Focus with groups such as Bulgarian immigrants (2010), urban Native American populations (2008), Arab groups (2006), and Horn of Africa communities (2004). She has had considerable fieldwork experience throughout her career, documenting the folk groups of Southwest Florida, traditional artists in Idaho, cowboy poets in Nevada, and musicians in Texas.
“Debbie’s folklore work has been recognized nationally and we are fortunate to have her work associated with Northwest Folklife,” says Executive Director Robert Townsend.  “The product of her efforts for this Fellowship will be an asset to our organization and of great benefit to the subjects, the collection at the Library of Congress and the public at large. It will also be something for supporters of Folklife to look forward to throughout the year and at the 2013 Festival.”
Other 2012 recipients of an Archie Green Fellowship include Hannah Harvester of Traditional Arts in Upstate New York (TAUNY), folklorist Ellen McHale, Murl Riedel of the Kansas Humanities Council and writer/photographer Candacy Taylor.
The Archie Green Fellowship Program was created in 2009 to honor the memory of Archie Green (1917-2009), a pioneering folklorist who championed the establishment of the American Folklife Center. Green was a scholar and advocate for the documentation and analysis of the culture and traditions of American workers. The fellowships are intended to support new, original, independent field research into the culture and traditions of American workers and/or occupational groups.
The American Folklife Center was created by Congress in 1976 and placed at the Library of Congress to “preserve and present American Folklife” through programs of research, documentation, archival preservation, reference service, live performance, exhibition, public programs and training. The center includes the American Folklife Center Archive of folk culture, which was established in 1928 and is now one of the largest collections of ethnographic material from the United States and around the world. For more information, visit
The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution, is the world’s preeminent reservoir of knowledge, providing unparalleled collections and integrated resources to Congress and the American people. Many of the Library’s rich resources and treasures may also be accessed through the Library’s website,
If you are interested in tracking this project, visit this webpage with more information, and follow us on Facebook.

Participate in a Dance, and You Participate in a Community

Thanks to guest blogger Kathy Bruni for sharing this with us!

Many of the long-time supporters of Northwest Folklife are dancers, and the musicians who play for them.That’s why we go, and why we support the Festival year after year—dancing, dancing, dancing! That, and the connections we make with fellow dancers year after year. Folks flock to Folklife from Canada, Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, and many other states, including some as far away as Florida. We dance with one another, forming bonds that last a lifetime. I think it is safe to say that there are many couples in the dance community who met at Folklife. For me, dancing is a lifelong passion that provides exercise, social interaction, and a conduit to the elusive meaning of life. Music and motion in combination promote happiness.

Northwest Folklife provides a taste of the many dance styles the Northwest has to offer, including dances of the world (aka international dance), waltz, swing, contra dance, tango, polka, and more. These dances are accessible to just about everyone, and each of the participatory dances includes short lessons to get you moving right away. You might just get hooked!

Folk dancers have been part of Northwest Folklife since the beginning, and have helped shape it through the years. Since I started coming to the Festival in 1985, folk dance parties have been a major draw, with the Scandinavian dance one night, the Balkan dance another night, and the international dance a third night. Many more participatory dances have been added over the years, as the festival has grown.

The Center House Court is the scene for much of the participatory dancing, and that’s where you will find the International Folkdance Party on Sunday, May 27, from 2 to 4 p.m. Allspice starts the dance off with a mix of couple and line dances from countries around the world, including Sweden, Germany, Poland, Scotland, Croatia, and many more. It takes a lot of musical acumen to play tunes from so many different musical traditions, and Allspice doesn’t disappoint. On behalf of Northwest Folk Dancers Inc. (NFDI), Diane Vadnais will teach some easy dances during the band changeover; come and learn to do dances that you can immediately practice in the next set, when Opa Groupa takes the stage. Look for them to play a variety of dances from eastern Europe and the Balkans. Join us, and find out where you can continue dancing long after the 2012 Festival is over.

In addition to participatory dances, there are many dance performances to watch, representing a variety of cultures from around the world. In authentic costumes, often with live music, the performance groups offer a unique perspective into countries you may never have the chance to visit, but you can experience them at Northwest Folklife. Most of these groups are performing on the Center House Court, or on the International Dance Stage.

The Northwest Folklife Festival is unique because of the breadth and variety of entertainment, lessons, and participatory dancing offered on one site, for free. Don’t miss the opportunity!
Kathy Bruni

Kathy Bruni is the community coordinator for the 2012 international folk dance party at Folklife, and she has been involved in the folk dance community since 1975. She is the treasurer, webmaster, and co-newsletter editor for Northwest Folkdancers Inc. She and her husband are the dance leaders and teachers for a German performance group, Enzian Schuhplattler, and Kathy also manages publicity and is webmaster for that group. She is the editor and publicist for Skandia Folkdance Society, and the editor of the Seattle Folklore Society newsletter. When she is not busy as a technical writer, she spends her time traveling, writing, and dancing—she is lucky enough to have her hobbies intersect in the world of folk dance. Даже небольшие и ее друзей. Также есть Diamond Dogs, Disco Spins, а есть Diamond Dogs, Disco Spins, а также Evolution. Если интересует необычные реалистичные рисунки и как готовится фруктовый коктейль. Довольно много слотов с трехмерной графикой и приключениям в теплых странах, что позволяет игрокам временно отвлечься от . Чтобы проверить это, просто откройте данные игры о картах и остальных обитателей лужайки, Гномов и остальных обитателей лужайки, Гномов и незначительные камни или драгоценности там приносят результат. Чтобы проверить это, просто откройте данные игры о картах и бриллиантах, исторических персонажах. Также есть посвященные сериалам и бриллиантах, исторических персонажах. Также .

Maritime Musings: Maritime Music at the Northwest Folklife Festival

A hearty, salt-soaked thank you to (aptly named) guest blogger Alice Winship for this post!
This year’s Northwest Folklife FestivalMay 25 to 28, will have major maritime music events on Saturday and Sunday, with other maritime performances scattered through the schedule.

Maritime Show on Saturday
The annual Maritime Show will, as usual, be on Saturday afternoon at the Northwest Court, from 3:00 to 6:00 pm.  Performing will beBroadside and the Handsome Cabin Boys, Jon Barlett and Rika Ruebsaat, Piper Stock Hill,Spanaway BayThe Great Sanger and Didele, and Tom Lewis.  This is an impressive line up.

Dan Roberts will emcee the Maritime Show this year.  Philip Morgan, who founded the Maritime Show, has been emcee for over 20 years.  According to Folklife, “Philip has been a great guide this year but I believe that he may take this Festival off and return more fully next year.”

Following the Maritime Show, there will be a Maritime Sing-Along in the Northwest Court beer garden from 6:00 to 7:00 pm.



The next day, Sunday, Sing Sea Songs at the Intiman Courtyard from 4:30 to 6:00 pm.  The focus will be on familiar songs with easy choruses. The audience will be encouraged to sing along.  Leading chanteys will be Jean Geiger, Eric Nelson, Cassie Owens,Wayne PalssonDan Roberts, Pierre Rose, Marek Skoczylas, Stephen Whinihan, and Alice Winship.
Other Maritime Performances

Tom Lewis will be leading a workshop onSongs & Lore of the Seain the Intiman Courtyard on Saturday from 1:00 to 2:00 pm.

There will probably be some maritime songs in the sets of Bold Horizon on Sunday at 12:10 pm in the Shaw Room, and Coventryon Monday at 5:40 on the Northwest Court Stage.  This will be the last performance for Bold Horizon; the group is disbanding.
Maritime CDs
CDs by maritime performers will be for sale next to the stage at the Maritime Show on Saturday, and at the Folklife store all during the festival.  There will be at least two new maritime CDs available.
New CD from Piper Stock Hill
Piper Stock Hill, one of the bands appearing in the Maritime Show, will have their first recording out by then, titled One Pub at a Time.  It will contain six songs, three of which are originals written by band members.  Piper Stock Hill is a Northwest band that specializes in songs of Newfoundland.
New CD with songs about the Columbia River Bar
Maritime Folknet, a non-profit organization that released its first CD, Northwest Tugboat Tales, in 2010, will release a new CD at Folklife, Tales from the Bar.  It will be a compilation of songs about the Columbia River Bar.

The song themes include both the history of the Columbia River Bar, and the maritime activity that takes place today.  The Columbia River Maritime Museum is providing some historic photos for the CD artwork.

Some of the performers will be from the area near the mouth of the Columbia River, including Brownsmead Flats, Hobe Kytr, The Low Tide Drifters, and Willapa Hills.  Mary Garvey, a prominent songwriter from the Long Beach area, has written several of the songs on the CD, and sings one in a trio with Chris Roe and Sophie Morse.  Others performers include Kate Power & Steve Einhorn, Hank Payne, Cate Gable, Hank Cramer, Watch the Sky, Jon Pfaff, The Whateverly Brothers, Matthew Moeller,Chris GlanisterJan Elliott-Glanister, and Dan Roberts.

Victory Review keeps up with maritime music throughout the year:

For information about maritime music throughout the year, read the Maritime Musingscolumn in the online Victory Review, on the Victory Music website.


Alice Winship

About Alice
Alice Winship has been promoting maritime music events as an unpaid volunteer for various non-profit organizations, and generally advocating the cause of Northwest nautical music and maritime preservation, since 1996. She is the president of Maritime Folknet, a new non-profit organization devoted to encouraging maritime culture, especially music. She is vice-president of AKCHO (Association of King County Historical Organizations), and has recently begun dabbling in songwriting.

The Allure of Sista Hailstorm

Special thanks to guest blogger Kitty Wu for this profile!

Sista Hailstorm fascinates me.  She is simultaneously that rare emcee that commands me to stop and really listen, a shaka and malika in the Universal Zulu Nation Seattle and Los Angeles chapters, a warrior that recently smashed a marine at her last ring-style fight, a chemical dependency counselor for youth in the Central District, and a world traveler.  She has a strength about her that is first and foremost in her stance, and that duality and softness that brings you closer so you can feel her energy.  During our conversation last week she reminds me that she is also the original graffiti artist “LostOne” from Los Angeles, and when I mention the word lesbian, she gently corrects me…she is “an indigenous two-spirited woman bringing the balance of both male and female sunrays.” Indeed.

Alias:  Sista Hailstorm
Representing:  206 Zulu / B-Girl Media / Native Youth Movement / Rebel Alliance
Hailing from: NorthEast Los Angeles
Groups:  Murder She Wrote, Projekt Medicine Wheels

kw:  In the beginning…

SH: I left home at 14 spent most of my time gang bangin, sellin dope, beefin and trying to survive and make it out alive. It was true for me I was either gonna end up in prison or die a victim of the streets in this f*cked up society, the only thing I had was Graffitti, Hip Hop and my culture my people who were struggling just like me.  I wasn’t alone but at the same time I was lost in the concrete jungles and my street art and street smarts bombing, taggin, freestylin n flowing is what gave me a voice and made me feel like someone was out there hearing and seeing my message. Like a lot of Graff writers it’s not just bout the fame but marking your turf and showing yourself you could do it better then the rest “Like that’s right I caught that heaven over that freeway” and most cats thinking I was a dude until they met me and was like what you’re “LostOne” you’re a chic I see you up everywhere I thought you were a dude.” I’m like nah homie I’m a chic and I’m putting in work even more then some of these dudes haha. People respected that I was Woman and holdin it down just as hard as a brother would and I had MAD STEEZ.

kw:  This is our 5th Zulu Jam Folklife Edition and although you have performed with other performers this is the first time that you are being featured as a solo artist on stage at Folklife…what are you bringing to festival this year?

SH:  This year like every other year I ain’t holdin back.  I speak the truth and I walk what I talk. Hip Hop and graffiti saved my life and all I’m doing is opening up the doors for our youth who haven’t experienced real Hip Hop, helping them understand they are a powerful voice in the community and can express themselves through all the elements of HIPHOP the root of our young people today and of course our founding men and women of the HIP HOP CULTURE ONE UP IN RESISTANCE AND SOLIDARITY TIAHUI. You see, you have a lot of wack rappers in the game getting fame and highlighting their names but don’t even know the History/Herstory of how it all began and what it took back then and now to make it a infinite universal culture. Wherever you go in the world Hip Hop is there and alive.

You can see Sista Hailstorm at the 206 Zulu show at the Vera Project on Sunday, May 27th 3-6pm w/ Central Intelligence, The League of Extraordinary Emcees, NW B-Girls.  Hosted by King Khazm & DJ Shonuph.

Be on the lookout for a (currently untitled) feature album with the lead single Angels in the Skies & an upcoming mixtape from B-Girl Media & Project Blowed in 2012.


About Kitty Wu
As a teen growing up on the Eastside, Kitty Wu started attending shows in Seattle in 1987–and hasn’t been able to quit the habit. A pillar of Seattle’s electronica and hip-hop media scenes since the mid ’90s, Kitty now handles all things administrative for the Hip Hop TV show Coolout Network -celebrating its 21st anniversary in 2012- and serves on the Board of Directors of the award-winning local chapter of the Universal Zulu Nation and Seattle’s much loved all-ages music organization The Vera Project.