Mark your calendars for the release of Roots & Branches, Volume 5 on December 6th!

Roots & Branches, a series of recordings from Northwest Folklife, presents live performances mined from four decades of Festival performances.

The 2013 Roots & Branches disc features some of the dynamic musical traditions that make Folklife the premier community arts festival in the nation including: Badger Pocket, Renegade Stringband, Shelby Earl, Juliana and PAVA, Soul Senate, Les Pamplemousses, J. Wong, The Sumner Brothers, Vivian and Phil Williams, Eldridge Gravy & the Court Supreme, and The Sojourners!

Volume 5: Live from the 2013 Festival will be available on Northwest Folklife’s website, December 6, 2013, as well as during the 2014 Northwest Folklife Festival, Memorial Day Weekend, May 23-27.
Draft front cover design for "Roots & Branches, Vol. 5"—Septem
Stay tuned for highlighted tracks form the album and more on our website in the weeks to come.


Now Accepting Performer Applications

CallGraphic1Northwest Folklife invites musicians, dancers, community groups, artists, storytellers, and instructors to participate in the 43rd annual Northwest Folklife Festival, which will take place May 23-26, 2014, at Seattle Center.

If you or your group is based in the Northwest region, including Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Western Montana, this is a great opportunity to share your music and traditions!

The annual Northwest Folklife Festival is the largest FREE community arts festival in the United States. It is presented each year in Seattle by Northwest Folklife, a year-round nonprofit organization dedicated to creating opportunities for all people to appreciate, share, and participate in the evolving traditions of the Pacific Northwest.

Last year Northwest Folklife programmed over 6,000 performers in 65 different genres of music, from Hawaiian to hip-hop. We presented dance performances representing cultures from Ireland to India. We believe everyone is a bearer of folk arts, and we encourage communities to share their cultural traditions, in the hope that interaction with new audiences will enrich the community as much as the audience.


Interested in how we select bands and performance groups? Click here to read our Programming FAQ.

Still have questions? Email our programming team now.

Are You a Washington State Employee?

State EmployeesDid you know there is a special opportunity for Washington State employees interested in supporting Northwest Folklife?

The Washington State Combined Fund Drive empowers Washington public employees and retirees to strengthen communities through the funding and support of charities with automatic monthly donations.

It’s simple! It’s easy! Set it up and you don’t have to remember to renew!

Find out how you can enroll now. 


Folklife at Kirkland Summerfest on Sunday, August 11

The Bucharest Drinking Team at the Northwest Folklife Festival. Photo by Piper Hanson.

Northwest Folklife is thrilled to announce we’ve been invited to program a full day of free music and dance at Kirkland Summerfest! The lineup features groups from your favorite Folklife communities, including Cajun/Zydeco, Indian, Hip Hop, Latino, Old Time, and Balkan, on stage on Sunday, August 11.

Folklife Stage Schedule:

11:00 – 11:50 AM: Cultural Focus Representation: Indian Dance Performance with surprise guests!
Each year, the Northwest Folklife Festival has a Cultural Focus, or theme, which allows us to program a “festival within a festival” with expanded opportunities to get to know a community of the Northwest. For 2014, the Cultural Focus is India! Get a head start on familiarizing yourself with the art and dances of Southeast Asia with this great opening showcase.

12:10 – 1:00 PM: Br’er Rabbit
Br’er Rabbit is an indie roots band based in Bellingham, WA. Combining each member’s unique influences ranging from Leadbelly to The Lumineers, blending three distinct vocal styles, and adding copious amounts of foot-stomping, they demonstrate a sound and presence that’s at once original and familiar, appealing to audiences of all generations and genres.

1:20 – 2:10 PM: Los Flacos
Los Flacos performs a blend of the spiciest traditional sounds of Mexico, South America, and the Caribbean. Using a variety of instruments, some indigenous to the Americas and others of European and African origin, they create their own renditions of the songs of Latin America.

2:30 – 3:20 PM: Hip Hop demonstration with 206 Zulu
206Zulu is a Seattle-based group that empowers local communities through creativity and the arts. Their work to organize the Northwest hip hop community has inspired a generation  to get involved in social action, civic service, cultural creativity, and self-education. This showcase lineup features Sista Hailstorm, DJ Zeta Barber and Suntonio Bandanaz.

3:40 – 4:30 PM: Bucharest Drinking Team
Borrowing stylistically from great Balkan brass bands like Fanfare Ciocarlia and Boban Markovic, the Bucharest Drinking Team mixes in a liberal shot of Romanian folk music and a penchant for 80s disco from behind the Iron Curtain to bring you a high-proof Eastern Bloc Party, complete with dancing and music!

4:50 – 6:00 PM: Cajun/Zydeco Dance with  MaryLee Lykes + Zydeco Rex
MaryLee Lykes began teaching dance in Seattle17 years ago….and hasn’t stopped since! She teaches extensively on a local, national, and international level.
Zydeco is a musical genre evolved in southwest Louisiana by French Creole speakers which blends Cajun music, blues and rhythm and blues. Zydeco Rex is one of the region’s newest zydeco bands keeping the tradition going strong!


About Kirkland Summerfest

Kirkland’s largest festival of music, art, food, and culture – a weekend festival transforming downtown Kirkland and Marina Park into a lively arts destination with Music (featuring more than 50 performances), Dancing, Street Performances, Family Entertainment, Amazing Art, and an incredible selection of food.

Kirkland Summerfest at a glance: Friday, August 9

  • Summerfest kicks off 2013 bigger than ever with an opening night special theatrical presentation of The Tempest in the ever-popular Shakespeare in the Park at 7pm at Marina Park. Admission is free.

Saturday, August 10

  • Live music, artists in action, food trucks, robotics demonstrations, TechZone, Moss Bay Cardboard Boat Regatta, bouncy toys, Touch-A-Truck, Young Artists Exhibition, beer and wine gardens. Festival opens at 11am. Admission is free.

Sunday, August 11

  • Live music, Northwest Folklife performers, Artists in Action, Rotary Duck Dash, Bot Battles, TechZone, bouncy toys, Touch-A-Truck, Young Artists Exhibition, beer and wine gardens. Festival opens at 11am. Admission is free.

Kirkland Summerfest is a Seafair Sanctioned Community Event and is presented by the Kirkland Events Foundation. More information at  


Festival Hours

Friday, August 9 - 4pm – 10 pm featuring Shakespeare in the Park (7 pm)

Saturday, August 10 – 11am – 11pm

Sunday, August 11 – 11am-6pm

philly cheesesteak

What to See at Folklife #221: The FOOD!

Not only can you take a trip around the world through music, dance, stories and art at the Northwest Folklife Festival, but you can eat your way around the globe as well!

Check out our complete list of food vendors here. Be sure to check out Eloi Taste the Carribbean – an unusual treat for the Northwest! You’ll also want to stop by Bahn Thai Restaurant — Seattle’s first Thai restaurant, in operation since 1984.

There’s also Pelmeni Dumpling Tzar, serving up Russian style dumplings (a staff favorite!), Horn of Africa , providing regional cuisine from Northeast Africa, authentic Filipino food from Espis Sausage & Tocino Co., and much much more.

Of course, no festival is complete without Little C’s Funnel Cakes or Shishkaberry’s. Indulge, and have fun trying new things. That’s what Folklife is all about!



Join Us for the 2013 Northwest Folklife Festival

You are invited to the greatest show of talent in the Northwest! Be part of the 42nd Northwest Folklife Festival this May 24-27 in Seattle Center. Enjoy and participate in your traditions! And experience other cultures by listening to their music, trying out their dances, and hearing their stories. And it’s all FREE.

The 42nd Festival features a special focus on stories and personal histories from the workplace, in a multimedia program called Washington Works. Come hear the folklore of the labor movement, and stories of how jobs have changed over the years, through movies, storytelling, and historical presentations.

Here’s a few other highlights to look forward to:
-A Latin Dance Party with live dance bands!
-A new showcase focusing on traditional dance and music of Asia
-The return of the hugely popular Bollywood Showcase!
-Crowd-favorites Balkan Misfits Party and Monday night Reggae show
-The Tractor Tavern’s Urban Square Dance for beginners and expert dancers
-Indie Roots music across all our stages

We can’t guarantee the weather, but we can guarantee a great time with fantastic entertainment, food, family activities, shopping, beer gardens, and more.

This year we are pleased to feature artwork by Drew Christie and web design by Shaun Swick.

Look for the full schedule on our website,
RSVP on Facebook here>

Georgetown Orbits-by Piper Hanson

What to See at Folklife #48: Hip Hop

Georgetown Orbits-by Piper Hanson

Don’t be surprised to see hip hop on our “folk” stages!

“Hip hop is definitely a form of folk music,” says Kelli Faryar, Programs Manager at Northwest Folklife. “Folk music is the people’s music, and hip hop is first-hand stories and narratives.”

The Festival is a celebration of how all traditions are kept alive in the Northwest–from accordion to zither!

The 206Zulu Showcase takes place Sunday May 26, from 3:00pm – 6:00pm at The VERA Project, and features live breakdancing to DJ Zeta Barber and emcee Fleeta Partee. A son and namesake of Black Panther Party members, Fleeta Partee spits stories and rhymes with no glorification or sensationalism, with a foundation upon hip hop history and culture. Based in Seattle’s Central District, 206Zulu raises social awareness through forms of expression as a positive outlet for underprivileged youth.

A second hip hop showcase, You Can’t Fake Fresh, on Sunday May 26, from 7:00pm – 10:00pm in the EMP Sky Church, includes hip hop musicians with live bands and diverse musical influences such as jazz. Full band descriptions are below.

Global Heat – by Piper Hanson

206Zulu Jam featuring Junior Breakdance Competition and Hip-Hop Showcase: Sunday, May 26 from 3:00-6:00pm at The VERA Project.
See youth from local b-boy/b-girl classes showcase their dancing in a one-on-one competition. Featuring danceable music for everyone by DJ Cues & DJ Zeta Barber, with special guest performance by artist Fleeta Partee. All b-boys & b-girls are invited to come support the next generation of dancers & participate in open circles!

You Can’t Fake Fresh—Northwest Live-Band Hip Hop: Sunday, May 26 from 7:00-10:00pm in the EMP Sky Church.
The Sharp Five: The Sharp Five is a 5-piece collective from Seattle that bridges the gap between hip hop and Soul. Remember the warmth of the heart, the dirt under your feet, and the love for your city.
Irukandji Physics of Fusion: A unique group that brings equal parts soul, live hip hop, jazz fusion, and two phenomenal vocalists, Alisha and MC Profitsea to the stage.
Global Heat (with Special Guests Battle Reflexes): Winner of the 2011 Jammin’ Challenge at Hard Rock Café! As Seattle Next50 grant recipient, Global Heat headlined The Roots of Hip Hop in Ancient Cultures at the 2012 Northwest Folklife Festival.
Eastern Sunz: Multi award winning duo Eastern Sunz have been creating dynamic, thought provoking music and touring for over a decade with their unique sound referred to by CMJ Magazine as “intellectual hip hop”.


It’s Time to GiveBIG to Northwest Folklife – Help Us Meet Our Matching Challenge!

Visit our Seattle Foundation Profile Page now and click Donate Now, to GiveBIG to Northwest Folklife!

From midnight to midnight today only, every donation made to Northwest Folklife via our Seattle Foundation Profile Page will be stretched further thanks to by the Seattle Foundation and GiveBIG sponsors, who will match a share of every contribution!

In addition to The Seattle Foundation Stretch Pool, an anonymous donor has provided us with a challenge grant offering a 1:1 match up to $15,000! This donor will match, dollar for dollar, every dollar we raise up to $15,000 through GiveBIG. Help us meet this challenge – Click Here to Give Now!

Donors like you contributed over $11,000 to Northwest Folklife during the last GiveBIG event. Help us meet the challenge and beat our goal of $15,000 this year!

Any gift you make during GiveBIG will count toward your 2013 Friend of Folklife Benefits and can be redeemed at the Festival!

Thank you for your support of Northwest Folklife!

Questions about how to GiveBIG on May 15? Click here. More questions about GiveBIG? Click here.


Get Ready to GiveBIG to Northwest Folklife – Help Us Meet the Challenge!

PrintVisit our Seattle Foundation Profile Page  on May 6 and click Donate Now, to make a donation to Northwest Folklife!
On May 6, 2014 The Seattle Foundation will host GiveBIG – a one-day, online charitable giving event to benefit nonprofits in our community.

Every donation made to Northwest Folklife via our Seattle Foundation Profile Page on May 6 will be stretched further thanks to the Seattle Foundation and GiveBIG sponsors, who will match a share of every contribution!


But, there’s more! Just for Northwest Folklife, an anonymous donor will also match gifts dollar for dollar up to $25,000!


Don’t miss this opportunity to increase the impact of your donation to Northwest Folklife. Help us reach our goal of $25,000!


Any gift you make during GiveBIG will count toward your 2014 Friend of Folklife Benefits and can be redeemed at the Festival!

Thank you for your support of Northwest Folklife!

Questions about how to GiveBIG on May 6? Click Here


Spirit of West Africa Festal Celebrates the African Artists in Our Own Backyard

The Northwest Folklife Festival is a celebration of how traditions of world cultures are kept alive in the Northwest. It sounds like this year the Spirit of West Africa is moving in a similar direction, featuring more and more West African artists and musicians in our own backyard!

Seattle Center Festál Spirit of West Africa Highlights the Influences of West African Cultures in Music, Dance and More

Seattle Center Festál presents Spirit of West Africa, Saturday, May 11, 12 p.m. – 8 p.m., in Seattle Center Armory. The festival invites visitors to explore and experience the cultural roots and contemporary influences of West Africa through live performances, visual arts, hands-on activities, foods, games, and a lively marketplace.

The annual festival expands this year to include artists and performers whose expression clearly reflects the influence of West African culture, but who live and work in Seattle and call this city their home, regardless of where they were born. They come from places like Trinidad, Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, Peru, Columbia, Brazil, Guyana and the list could go on.

Under the direction of Senegalese born Thione Diop, Festál: Spirit of West Africa, has always focused on music and dance as performed by West African artists, many of them brought to Seattle just for this festival as guest performers. The more expansive view this year considers the fact that Seattle is now home to many artists from the these nations as well as the great African Diaspora, that vast region of the Americas created by the trans-Atlantic slave trade, who continue to practice their traditional arts. In addition, many American-born artists consciously work in mediums, especially music, that emphasize and celebrate West African cultural ideas and values.

Thus, the exciting and accomplished performers at this year’s festival will feature music and dance from the following cultures:

  • Afro-Peruvian traditions De Cajon
  • Caribbean steel drums – Cover Your Ears Steel Band
  • Afro-Brazilian dance – Dora Oliviera
  • Afro-Cuban Ceremonial music – Omo Alagba Bata’
  • Traditional and contemporary music and dance from the following Senegal – Sabar with Mapate Diop,

Thione, Gora Diop with Yeke Yeke and dance with Sumaya

  • Guinea – Mamady Mansari
  • Ghana – Obo Addy’s Ghanain Legacy.


An art workshop and an Africa-Seattle fashion show, Best of Both Worlds, will add to the fun and enjoyment. Admission is free as part of the Seattle Center Festál series.

Seattle Center Festál, a series of 22 celebrations presented by community organizations with support from Seattle Center, considers themes of importance to ethnic cultures in our region, revealing their common forms of tradition and expression, while highlighting their unique contributions to the Pacific Northwest and the world.

Spirit of West Africa is produced in partnership with Spirit of West Africa Committee. For more information on the festival, visit Click on or call 206 684-7200 to learn more about Seattle Center Festál and other outstanding public programming offered at Seattle Center.


About Seattle Center Festál


Seattle Center Festál 2013 presents a series of 22 world festivals on weekends throughout the year highlighting the distinct cultures and common threads of ethnic communities in our region through traditional and contemporary art, music, foods, youth activities, workshops and more. This collection of cultural events is produced with the generous support of Coca-Cola, The Boeing Company, T-Mobile, Wells Fargo, Real Networks, and KUOW 94.9 Public Radio. Additional support is provided by 4Culture, Washington State Arts Commission and the City of Seattle.



What to See at Folklife #44: New Communities

Every year new artists, bands, cultural groups, food vendors, craft merchants, and dancers join the Festival lineup. Let’s take a moment to welcome a few of this year’s new communities!

Fin Records: Folklife is thrilled to have Ballard’s Fin Records on board to host Indie Roots artists this year. The lineup of exciting local roots acts includes The Lures, Davidson Hart Kingsberry, Low Hums and Red Jacket Mine. Sponsored by BECU.
Friday, May 24th from 6:00-9:00pm on the Fountain Lawn Stage

Hollow Earth Radio: Hollow Earth has been part of the Festival for a few years now, but this is the first year that they have put together their own showcase!
Sunday May 26, 2013 7:00pm – 10:00pm at the Vera Project/Gallery.

Jack-A-Napes Comedy Show: This is the first year Folklife will host a comedy showcase! In the past year there’s been a real growth in the level of talent as well as following of Seattle’s stand-up comedy scene. Evan Morrison, a local comic and coordinator, has curated his own weekly open mic called Jack-A-Napes at Conor Byrne.  He performs stand up regularly and represents this new school of comics gaining momentum in this town. He is also a huge advocate for others that share the stage with him and is quickly building a community unto itself. Other comedians performing are Albert Kirchner, Sean Murphy Yogi Paliwal, and Brett Hamil.
Saturday May 25, 2013 8:30pm – 10:00pm at the Center Theatre.

Passages and Peninsulas of Southeast Asia: Welcome Huong Viet Performing Arts GroupMelody InstituteApsara Ensemble, and all the other great performers in this new showcase!
Sunday May 26, 2013 7:00pm – 10:00pm at the Bagley Wright Theatre.

Forró Dance: This new show featured the music of En Canto, a group dedicated to the preservation of Forro music. Forro is from northeastern Brasil and is a mix of baiao and latin grooves. The Seattle based sextet will bring you to Brasil!
Monday May 27, 2013 1:00pm – 3:00pm at the Armory Stage.

Voices of Vashon Island: Vashon Island is just a short 15 minute ferry ride from Seattle…..a very short distance, but a million miles away in terms of the hustle and bustle of the city.  It’s home to hundreds of amazing musicians that entertain our community on a regular basis.  There are several music venues on the Island and they are always filled with musicians playing every genre of music imaginable.
Sunday May 26, 2013 1:00pm – 3:30pm on the Alki Court Stage.

World Dance Party: This popular community event has taken place all over Seattle, and it is a natural addition to Folklife—after all, the World Dance Party embodies all of what makes Folklife great: people of all ages, young and old, from all ethnicities, coming together to dance and feel good! Be a part of the movement.
Saturday, May 25 from 1:00-3:00pm in the Armory.

Su Truman & the Gaelic Crankie Show: Artist and musician Su Truman revives and reinterprets a beloved Appalachian tradition. Half movie, half handmade folk art, crankies are animated drawings and papercuts on cloth “reels,” hand-cranked for movement, and presented with traditional Gaelic music accompaniment. Sounds amazing, right? Sunday, May 26 from 3:00-4:00pm, Center House Theatre.

Scottish Country Dance: Enjoy dancing to the wonderful, rich dance music of Scotland and have fun learning some simple dances that are done all over the world. Saturday May 25, 2013 3:00pm – 4:00pm on the Armory Stage.

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.