Give Kids the Gift of Community

Seattle Children's Festival

Here’s a chance for you to help kids discover the whole wide world: support Northwest Folklife’s Seattle Children’s Festival. Dances, musicians, regalia, artifacts and musical instruments: you name it. Folks who experience Northwest Folklife programs frequently exclaim: ‘I saw wonderful things I did not know existed!’  Northwest Folklife captures ‘living traditions,’ presenting arts and culture as a way of life. We believe that inspiring kids’ cultural intelligence will create a kinder world, and strong communities.

Support Northwest Folklife, Celebrate Community.

Northwest Folklife’s Seattle Children’s Festival engages kids and their families in the Northwest’s multi-cultural folklife, introducing young people to new and beloved cultures and traditions, ‘Celebrating Our Big Neighborhood.’  Performers from Northwest communities represent cultures from across the globe.  Music, story-telling, dance, cooking, crafts and more spark curiosity and promote cross-cultural understanding, exploration, and acceptance

The Seattle Children’s Festival builds on the Northwest Folklife Festival’s Discovery Zone and Kindiependent Stage. With your support, we are making the Seattle Children’s Festival an annual “must” experience for our region’s youngest folks and families.

Northwest Folklife’s Festivals are community-powered, charging no admission fee, thanks to your donations. By keeping our programs accessible to people of all ages and means, Northwest Folklife provides opportunities to all for self-expression and direct experience of the extraordinary and diverse big neighborhood of the Pacific Northwest.

Please donate today. You will give kids the gift of community.

And to all of our Friend of Folklife donors, Thank You.


Robert Townsend, Executive Director & Friend of Folklife

Sheila Siden, Development Director & Friend of Folklife

P.S. Save the Date! Seattle Children’s Festival ‘Celebrating Our Big Neighborhood’ Sunday, October 11, Seattle Center.  Please visit for more information about giving to Northwest Folklife. Contact Corin Shelley-Reuss with questions at 206/684-7300.

P.P.S. Would you like to be a Sponsor? Give us a call soon to collaborate! The Seattle Children’s Festival features more than 25 performances and 5 indoor venues, with over 3,000 parents and kids in attendance.


Stream the Festival and Relive your Favorite Moments

Still in the reverie of the 2015 Northwest Folklife Festival? We are too!!

Listen to some of our favorite showcases like The Folk, Redefined showcase! This awesome Sunday afternoon showcase was sponsored by KEXP and included performers: Melville, Mindie Lind, Tomo Nakayama and OK Sweetheart!  Read more about these performers and listen to them now below!

To find more audio streaming music from The NW Folklife Festival 2015 at no-charge, click here!


3:00pm-3:35pm – Melville
Melodic Indie Rock


With the visceral Ryan T Jacobs’ emotive vibrato carrying the band’s lyrics, he’s joined by Tim Skerpon on drums and Thomas Yates on bass, a core that crafts melodic indie rock with roots in American rock ‘n’ roll.



Mindie Lind

3:45pm-4:20pm – Mindie Lind

Psych Twang Indie Roots


Heartbreaking psych twang with sweet, haunting vocal harmonies and tons of wobbly electric voodoo guitar  Inly’s warbley like a ship, steady like a train, and we like celebrating sadness with a kick-line choral hooks.





Tomo Nakayama


4:35pm-5:10pm – Tomo Nakayama

Northwest Indie Folk Singer


Tomo Nakayama is a multi-instrumentalist, singer, and songwriter from Seattle, Washington. His music has been praised by NPR, New York Times, and KEXP, and he has toured throughout the US and Japan at fests such as SXSW, CMJ, Sasquatch, and Bumbershoot. Fog On The Lens is his first solo album, made after nearly a decade fronting beloved Seattle chamber-pop band Grand Hallway, and composing for an acting in Lynn Shelton’s Sundance Grand Jury nominated film “Touchy Feely”.



Erin Austin

5:25pm-6:00pm – OK Sweetheart

Melody Driven Smart Pop


Reminiscent of all the good things from mid-century pop, Erin Austin’s songs well crafted simplicity pulls influence from classics such as Harry Nilsson, The Beatles, The Zombies, and Randy Newman. OK SWEETHEART’s uniquely pop sound is the result of an eclectic collaboration between members of multiple bands included.

Chaotic Noise Marching Corps

Thank You for Giving!

Did you Text FOLK to 20222 to Give $10? Give some cash to the folks in the purple aprons? Drop dollars in the donation boxes? Make a donation at the Donation & Information Station? Become a Friend of Folklife?

We Thank YOU!

Chaotic Noise Marching Corps

Chaotic Noise Marching Corps. Photo by Piper Hanson

Your donation to Northwest Folklife during the 2015 Northwest Folklife Festival sparks the magic! Your support gives meaning to the Festival’s community-powered identity. You, along with all of the brilliant performers, volunteers, sponsors and supporters create this enormous, layered phenomenon of arts and culture. It is easy to have a good time at the Northwest Folklife Festival, making new discoveries and meeting your neighbors. And there is more to it.

Your gift provides Northwest Folklife with resources to reach out to new artists and to develop the extended relationships that make up the Northwest Folklife family tree that embraces communities, dancers, singers, musicians, performers and artists, and their ‘Folklife’: arts and culture as a way of life.


Draze. Photo by Piper Hanson

Behind the scenes, year round, for over 44 years, Northwest Folklife has helped form the cultural landscape of the Northwest by giving voice to artists and their creative expression, through their traditional music and personal innovations. Every year, we present a Cultural Focus, a ‘festival within a festival’, that features a Pacific Northwest community through special performances, panels, workshops, exhibitions, demonstrations, and activities. The 2015 Cultural Focus, Beats, Rhymes and Rhythms: Traditional Roots of Today’s Branches explored the cross-cultural and traditional roots of Hip Hop.

This year’s Cultural Focus let us meet the Maraire Family through Dumi Maraire, Jr., aka Draze, as he shared his family’s long involvement with the Northwest Folklife Festival, and his own evolution as an artist. New to Washington, and the USA, Dumi, Sr. was a brave force, determined to share his Zimbabwean culture. He found open arms and an invitation in the Northwest Folklife Festival. The Maraire children grew up with the Festival as their annual performance of the year: new songs, new outfits, new opportunities. Today, Dumi Jr. creates hip-hop inspired by his life in Seattle and Shona roots in Zimbabwe. His music functions in the same way roots music in Africa has for thousands of years: to educate a community, to encourage individual strengths, and to celebrate and respect cultural heritage.

Your enduring support makes the Northwest Folklife magic happen! Your generosity strengthens our community, and gives voice to artists and inspiration to audiences of all ages to play, dance, sing, taste, learn and participate: everyone together. Thank you.


Robert Townsend, Executive Director                         Sheila Siden, Development Director

PS Save the Date! The second annual Seattle Children’s Festival will be on Sunday, October 11, 2015, a one-day multi-cultural festival located on Seattle Center grounds, “Celebrating Our Big Neighborhood.”

Thank You


Final Fun at Folklife ’15

NWFolk2015_Friday_PiperHanson-99Come out today and celebrate the last day of the 44th Annual Festival! There’s so much in store starting at 11am until 9pm this evening!

Check out our schedule here and remember…just wander.




Here’s a few highlights from this weekend:














It’s not too late to Volunteer!

Volunteer at Northwest FolklifeEven though the online Volunteer Application is now closed, you are welcome to stop by Volunteer Registration (Next 50 Annex) during the festival to see what shifts we still have open!

Remember that Volunteer Appreciation Day is Monday May 25th in Volunteer Registration. Volunteers can stop by to pick up a treat and see if they’ve won a prize through our Volunteer Appreciation Program!

We would also like to take a moment to say THANK YOU to all of the organizations that donated to our 2015 Volunteer Appreciation Program!



5th Ave Theatre


Bold Hat Productions

Dave’s Killer Bread

Dick’s Drive-Ins

Elysian Brewing Co.


Ivar’s Inc. / Kidd Valley

Jet City Improv


Landmark Theatres

Museum of Flight

Nordic Heritage Museum

Northwest Film Forum

Northwest Railway Museum

Northwest Trek Wildlife Park

Pacific Science Center

Rat City Rollergirls

Seattle Art Museum

Seattle Children’s Theatre

Seattle Mariners

Seattle’s Own Shortbread

Seattle ReCreative

Seattle Sounders FC

Tacoma Rainers

Teahouse Kuan Yin

Teatro Zinzanni

The Center for Wooden Boats

The Space Needle

Timber! Outdoor Music Festival

Tom Bihn

Trophy Cupcakes

Wing Luke Asian Museum

Woodland Park Zoo


And an extra special THANK YOU to Girl Scouts of Western Washington Troop #52767!

Prom Queen

Northwest Folklife Festivals Indie Roots Lineup – Sponsored by 90.3 KEXP –

kexp-logoThe Northwest Folklife Festival‘s Indie Roots program returns for its fifth consecutive Festival, packed with live music showcases programmed in partnership with Northwest Folklife and local community curators such as Seattle Living Room Shows, Hearth Music and Underwood Stables. Indie Roots musicians integrate the traditional elements of folk and Americana music – banjos, acoustic guitars, Appalachian harmonies, or country twang – but with a more modern, pop-sensible sound. This year there are nine showcases and over 30 bands performing throughout all four days of the Festival, on four different stages including the Fountain Lawn Stage, Vera Project Stage, Folklife Café and on the new Back Porch Stage.

Indie Roots programming and showcases line-up – sponsored by our friends at 90.3 KEXP – – for 2015 Northwest Folklife Festival includes: 

Wild Rabbit

Hearth Music Showcase

Featuring Jacob Miller and the Bridge City Crooners, Vaudeville Etiquette, Wild Rabbit

7:00 – 9:00 p.m., Fountain Lawn Stage



New Generation Roots Show

Featuring Max’s Midnight Kitchen, The Desert Kind

12:20-1:30 p.m., Back Porch Stage


Kinfolk: New Sounds of the Northwest

Featuring Scarlet Parke, Pepper Proud, Whitney Monge

5:00-7:00 p.m., Folklife Cafe


Seattle Living Room Showcase

Featuring The Native Sibling, St. Paul de Vence, The Mama Rags, and Lonesome Shack

1:00-4:00 p.m., Fountain Lawn Stage


Prom QueenHeavy Harmonies

Featuring Eurodanceparty USA, YVES, Prom Queen, and Powers

7:00- 10:00 p.m., Vera Project



Folk, Redefined

Featuring Melville, Mindie Lind, Tomo Nakayama, and OK SWEETHEART

3:00-6:00 p.m., Vera Project Stage


Underwood Stables

Featuring Caleb and Walter, Lowman Palace, Cahalen Morrison, and The Ganges River Band

6:00-9:00 p.m., Fountain Lawn Stage



Homespun Indie

Featuring The Elk Tribe, Hallstrom, Joy Mills Band

1:00-3:00 p.m., Vera Project Stage


Ear To The Ground: Indie Roots Show

Featuring COHO, Low Hums, Tango Alpha Tango, and Ravenna Woods

3:30-6:30 p.m., Fountain Lawn Stage


All Indie Roots programming is sponsored by KEXP 90.3 FM –

Photo by Christopher Nelson

Young Folks Power Folklife!

Are you a someone age 25 or under who has wondered how you could help preserve the arts and cultures that exist in the Pacific Northwest? Well, there is one way you can. Folklife is introducing a new donor program geared towards young adults – from those finishing high school, to those venturing out and beginning their first “real” jobs – called Young Folks. For a donation as small as $20, you could have access to some cool donor benefits, like free Folklife swag, some Friends of Folklife buttons and an official festival guide mailed to you prior to the festival – you will know exactly what is happening during the festival before anyone else! And if you are interested in participating, find us at the festival and give us your contact info! In exchange, you will be entered into a raffle. We are receiving really awesome raffle prizes each week!

We are also working on some activities and programming geared towards millennials. (Don’t worry, I am one of you! Don’t be offended!) Please don’t forget though, this is our first year, so we are open to suggestions and feedback! In fact, we invite it! Tell us how to be better! But back to the point, the main event we are planning for you and your peers is a multi-platform scavenger hunt. Throughout the festival, we will send out clues via Twitter/Facebook and tag them #nwyoungfolks. We encourage you to post a picture of yourself with whatever, wherever, or whomever the clues lead you and tag them with #nwyoungfolks.

The Skablins; photo by Piper Hanson

The Skablins; photo by Piper Hanson

If this interests you, go to to find out how to sign up and follow #nwyoungfolks on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. We look forward to meeting you at the festival! Also, please send any feedback, questions, or concerns to myself, Grace, at


Posted by Grace


Thanks to our Sponsors: CHEER! Seattle

image004This year Northwest Folklife is excited to have CHEER Seattle join us at the Festival as one of our Entrance Sponsors! CHEER Seattle was founded in 2014 in response to the recent nationwide popularity of adult cheerleading teams. The organization is committed to raising spirits and empowering people into action that supports health and wellness in the LGBT community and beyond.

CHEER Seattle is made up of individuals from all walks of life who come together to support charities and nonprofit organizations in the area. To learn more about what they do, how to get involved or support CHEER Seattle please visit their website or Facebook page.

Thank you CHEER Seattle for your support and dedication to our community!

Visit them on Monday May 25th at the Bagley, Founder’s Court and McCaw Entrances to find out more about what they do and how to get involved!

Folklife 2014 - Friday

Dancing at the Northwest Folklife Festival

Folklife 2014 - FridayAsk any group of people why they come to the Northwest Folklife Festival and chances are at least one of them will say, “because of the dancing.”
Since Folklife’s inception, dancers have played a big part in shaping the festival. Many long-time supporters are dancers or dance musicians. Folklife is the only community-powered festival in the nation where they can merge to enjoy a huge variety of music, lessons and participatory dance. Dancers make deep bonds on the dance floor, pulling them back from all over the country.

From Balkan to Bollywood and Swing to Salsa, Folklife offers instruction and open dancing to everyone. This year’s lineup is packed with beginning and advanced dance styles and lessons; Bollywood, Cajun/Zydeco, Country Swing, High School Swing, Scandinavian, International, East and West Coast Swing, Square and Salsa dancing, Tango, Waltz, and more.
At Warren’s Roadhouse, beginners can also learn what many dancers believe is the simplest dance style; Contra Dance. (Learn more about Contra in a previous blog post here.)

Also rooted deep in American culture and popular in Seattle, this year welcomes Hip-Hop to the stage. A street dance typically danced in crews, Hip Hop was first popularized in the 1970s on the television show Soul Train and in the films Breakin’, Beat Street, and Wild Style, followed by its studio-based version, sometimes called “new style,” and hip-hop jazz dance, “jazz-funk.”
Folklife 2014 - SundayIn addition to participatory dances, demonstrations will be drawn from numerous world cultures. Danced in authentic costumes, these will be performed mostly in the Center House Court or on the International Dance Stage.
Dancing is a wonderful way to “let go” and be completely in the moment – to fully immerse yourself in joy, movement, music and community. So, grab your best dancing shoes and give it a try! Chances are, like so many others, you’ll get hooked!

Coolout Network

Raise the Town Out!

Georgio BrownIf reggae is the heartbeat of life, blues the soul, swing the dance, and jazz the conversation, then Hip Hop, with its driving cadence and spirit, could be called the poetry. And certainly no one is more passionately devoted to giving that poetry a voice than artist/filmmaker Georgio Brown.

For over 20 years Georgio has provided a venue for budding and seasoned hip hop artists to showcase their work through the Seattle public access video series, “Coolout Network” and its online “webisodes.” Today Coolout Network can be seen on the following sites:,, and

With candor and warmth, Georgio says, “There are a lot of talented Hip Hop artists in the Northwest who need and deserve attention. Coolout Network helps get them the exposure and inspiration they need.”

Involved in Hip Hop since its inception, native New Yorker Georgio, while still in high school, got his video production start filming shorts of rappers.

“I grew up in New York in the early stages of hip-hop,” he says. “When I came out to Seattle in 1991, I started making a series of videos which focused on Seattle’s Hip Hop scene. This grew to a program on Seattle’s public access television, “Coolout Network,” which documented what was happening here in Hip Hop – and I think, helped to inspire a lot of people’s art. I’m also an artist, so I like to give voice to other artists. ”

To this end, Georgio is dedicated to sharing the positive aspects of Hip Hop.

“Hip Hop gives people a place where they can freely express their art,” says Georgio. “Mainstream media tends to promote Hip Hop in a negative light – but I prefer to show its positive influence.”

“ It’s taken some time, but I knew what Hip Hop needed was for an artist to come along and bring positive national attention to it – and that other Hip Hop artists would then be inspired to follow their lead. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis winning four Grammy awards for Best New Artist, Best Rap Album, Best Rap Song, and Best Rap Performance in 2013 did just that. They showed other artists it can be done.”

Georgio has also brought awareness for Hip Hop to the larger Seattle community.

In recognition of his positive contribution to the Seattle community, in 2004, Georgio and “Coolout Network” received the City of Seattle Mayor’s Award for Excellence in Hip Hop. In 2009 he won local filmmaker of the year at the Langston Hughes African American Film Festival with a short he shot and produced about the 206 Zulu Nation. Georgio serves on the organization’s Board of Directors, whose members King Khazm and Kitty Wu prompted Governor Jay Inslee to proclaim the month of November as Washington State Hip Hop History Month. And in November 2015, “Coolout Network” was featured at “Experience Music Project,” Seattle’s museum of contemporary popular culture.

The history of Hip Hop in the Northwest dates back to the late 1970s when high school kids from the Rainier Beach, Rainier Valley, and Central District areas in Seattle started Hip Hop dancing. Local youth clubs and high schools in south Seattle held competitive dance contests called bop-offs. In the early 1980s, soldiers at Tacoma’s military bases also spawned a hip-hop fan base.

Some of the first Hip-Hop dances in Seattle, held at public-housing recreation centers, featured the Emerald Street Boys and Anthony “Sir Mix-A-Lot” Ray. During this time, “Nasty Nes” Rodriguez also launched the Northwest’s first all-rap radio program, Fresh Tracks, and began airing self-produced tracks by Hip Hop artists. In 1985, the Northwest’s first hip-hop label, Nastymix Records, released Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Square Dance Rap.” Nastymix Records gained national attention in 1993, when Mix-A-Lot won a Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance. Hip Hop had launched in the Northwest.

Collaborating with media and technology filmmaker/producer Scott Macklin and Hip Hop historian Mike Clark, Georgio is currently on hiatus from “Coolout Network” to work on a full-length feature documentary about the evolution of Hip Hop in the Northwest. Highlighting three decades of Seattle Hip-Hop history, segments of the documentary will be shown at the Northwest Folklife Festival. Come learn why Hip Hop has become such an enduring, grasssroots part of life in the Northwest.

Douglas Ridings performs Odissi 3

Douglas Ridings Performs Solo Odissi at the Festival

Please enjoy a few words from Douglas Ridings, Odissi dancer and teacher, performing at the 2015 Northwest Folklife Festival. Here he has shared with us the background of this unique dance form and what audiences can expect to see in his Festival performance.

“Odissi” A classical Indian Dance that has a 2000+ plus history and was suppressed under British Imperialism and nearly lost until it was reconstructed after Indian Independence through textual research, sculptural evidence, remnants of old traditions in the Jatra (roving theaters), and the temple tradition sustained by the Maharis, temple priestesses who were married to the deity of the temple and performed dance as part of their offering. I have learned Odissi dance from Dr. Ratna Roy since 2005. Her teacher was Pankaj Charan Das, the adopted son of a Mahari and a seasoned performer in the Jatra. Combining his knowledge of temple ritual and and theatrical savvy of the Jatra, he was a primary force in the modern reconstruction of Odissi and is today acknowledged as the “Guru of Gurus”.

Douglas Ridings performs Odissi 2The piece is an invocation to Shiva in his form as Nataraj (King of the Dancers) and Yogiraj (King of the Yogis). The music I had commissioned while I was India with Dr. Ratna Roy’s help, so I was in the studio dancing with the drummer while the recording was being made. Odia music has elements of both Karnatic and Hindustani Classical Music as well as it’s own distinctive elements. The costume was custom made from an embroidered silk saree as well as filigree silver jewelry and ankle bells. Odisha is well-known not only for its dance but also its textiles, jewelry, painting and cuisine. Odissi dance itself is characterized by its capacity to blend sacredness and sensuality, its lyricism and gracefulness, and its intricate, subtle complexity and isolations.

I have performed many times at Folklife but always before with Dr. Ratna Roy and her group Urvasi. This is the first year I have been invited to dance as a soloist.

I perform regularly in India, under Dr. Roy’s guidance. When I’m there, I teach Yoga to dancers in Bhubaneswara (Rudrakshya) in exchange for dance training with them and home-cooked food!

-Douglas Ridings

YOU can learn Odissi!

Dr. Roy teaches Beginning Odissi at Velocity Dance Center on Sundays at 3 pm and Douglas Ridings assists her.

Douglas Ridings also teaches a class on Fridays at 7pm at Culture Shakti Dance.