Sarrah Danzinger HI RES

Indie Roots programming at the Festival

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Rabbit Wilde.

The 2016 Indie Roots showcases combine elements of traditional music with today’s popular sounds. New this year is a showcase programmed in part by Treefort Music Fest, featuring head turning performances from Rabbit Wilde, Karl Blau, and Hillfolk Noir. These artists put their individual spins on folk music, sharing with audiences a unique sound.  Each showcase has been curated in part by community groups such as 91.3 KBCS, Seattle Living Room Shows, Underwood Stables, and Treefort Music Fest. An incredible line-up is programmed this year including Naomi Wachira, Luz Elena Mendoza, Hurray For The Riff Raff, and The Sweet Lowdown. There are nine showcases and over 30 bands performing throughout all four days of the Festival. Find these bands on four different stages including the Fisher Green Stage, the Fountain Lawn Stage, Vera Project Stage, and the Folklife Café.
Indie Roots programming for 2016 Northwest Folklife Festival includes:
Kickin’ Up Dust Showcase
Featuring The Lucky Shots, The Gortexans, Johnson Country, and The Fentons
6:00 – 9:00 p.m., Fountain Lawn Stage
Next Generation: Indie Roots
Featuring Crow’s Share, Dark Madrona, The Banner Days, and The Bruised Hearts Revue
7:00 – 9:55 p.m., Vera Project
Seattle Living Room Showcase
Featuring The Cloves, Lanford Black, The Hollers, and Sarah Gerritsen and the Shadow Catchers
12:30 – 3:15 p.m., Fountain Lawn Stage
91.3 KBCS Acoustic Showcase
Featuring Naomi Wachira, Luz Elena Mendoza, Hurray For The Riff Raff, and The Sweet Lowdown
12:30 – 3:20 p.m., Fisher Green Stage
Sarrah Danzinger HI RES

Hurray for the Riff Raff to be seen in the 91.3 KBCS showcase. Photo Credit: Sarrah Danzinger.

Ear to the Ground: Indie Roots
Featuring Murfitt and Main and Fish and Bird
2:00 – 3:25 p.m., Fountain Lawn Stage
Folk, Redefined
Featuring Familiar Wild, Shelita Burke, Intisaar, and Aimee Wilson
3:00 – 6:00 p.m., Vera Project
Kinfolk: Ancient Voices
Featuring Jean Rohe and Meghan Yates
1:00 – 2:10 p.m., Folklife Cafe
Underwood Stables Show
Featuring Caleb and Walter, Denver, Silverhands, and Country Lips
6:00 – 9:00 p.m., Fountain Lawn Stage
Treefort Music Showcase
Featuring Hillfolk Noir, Rabbit Wilde, and Karl Blau
3:45 – 5:45 p.m., Fountain Lawn Stage
Indie Roots programming is sponsored by KEXP 90.3 FM –

Volunteer Spotlight: Wayne Severson

How long have you been Volunteering at the Northwest Folklife Festival?

Approximately 15 years.

What position(s) do you take on at the Festival?

Volunteer Check-In, Hospitality, Volunteer Party, Info Booths, and Raising Donations from festival visitors.

What keeps you coming back?

The opportunity to see old friends and the opportunity to make a lot of new ones. The pleasant atmosphere. The great music and shows.

Name a favorite food, craft, art or music that you enjoy at Folklife.

Elephant ears are one of my favorite foods. It’s so huge and it tastes so good! I enjoy craft gazing and music listening.

Please share a funny story, good memory, or tip for new volunteers!

When you want someone to donate you have to be joyful. You can’t shy away because the opportunity will pass you by. Be assertive, and be willing to chat with anyone coming or going will guarantee you a bill in the till. I’ve had people say to me that they are just passing through, or tourists, or just want to get to the other side of the Center. All you have to do is tell them that, “No matter what the size (amount) of their donation turns out to be – you will discover during your short visit was worth it, tenfold.”

Volunteer Spotlight Julia Brewer

Volunteer Spotlight: Julia Brewer

Volunteer Spotlight Julia Brewer
How long have you been Volunteering at the Northwest Folklife Festival?

Well technically I have been volunteering every year since 1997, but I was 2 at that age so I basically just helped/hung around with my mom while she volunteered. As I got older I was able to take on more responsibilities and really contribute to Folklife.

Another form of volunteering is performing at the festival. I have been performing at Folklife with Melody Xie Chinese Dance Institute since 2002-2013, which I have really enjoyed.

 What position(s) do you take on at the Festival?

Over the years my mom and I have done various volunteer positions, such as greeter, button selling and vendor assistant. But our favorite position is volunteer registration. My mom and I usually take the first shifts possible. We get to the grounds around 8am, so that after the shift we can possibly volunteer for more shifts if needed or we have the whole day to enjoy the various activities the festival holds.

The volunteers and staff members that I get to work with are just amazing and I get to meet others who enjoy giving back to the festival as well, which makes getting up so early not as bad.

 Please share a funny story, good memory, or tip for new volunteers!

A good memory I have is sharing my love for Folklife with my boyfriend and friends. I have also taught several of my friends and my boyfriend how to Contra dance. So few young individuals know what Contra dancing is or how to do it, so I think it is important to teach as many of the younger generation how to Contra dance so that it does not die out. I also love staying late every day of the festival so that I can get as much Contra dancing in as I can.

A tip for new volunteers would be, to remember to smile and to just have fun with the experiences. Folklife is the friendliest festival in Seattle, so you should just sit back and enjoy your time the best you can. Even though Folklife needs the volunteers, I would also suggest that high schools students that are trying to complete their service learning hours, to try not to procrastinate to until the end to get all their necessary hours; although it is funny trying to jam as many shifts as possible into their day.

Interested in Volunteering at the Festival? Sign-up HERE today!
Draze Maraire and friends, NW Folklife Festival


Northwest Folklife invites musicians, dancers, community groups, artists, storytellers, and instructors to participate in the 45th annual Northwest Folklife Festival, which will take place May 27-30, 2016, 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 community-powered 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.

Folklife 2014 - SaturdayLast year Northwest Folklife programmed over 5,000 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.

Click these links to be redirected to our online applications:






If you need a paper version of our performer application, please email us at programming at

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

Still have questions? Email our programming team now.



Who Is Sunshine Music Together?


Sunshine Music Together provides the greater Seattle community with music classes for babies and toddlers, introducing them to the wonder and beauty of musical sounds at a very early age. What lucky babies, we say!

Get to know Sunshine Music Together a little more in the below Q&A! They will be sharing their songs and good times with us at the 2nd Annual Seattle Children’s Festival again this year, from 10:45 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. in the Loft 4 venue. Parents, Caregivers, and little ones welcome and encouraged!

What will audiences experience from you at the Seattle Children’s Festival?

Community family music making! We will be encouraging caregivers with their children to participate enthusiastically in our program of songs, movement and chant activities.  We’ll be encouraging caregivers to be wonderful music making role models for their children – children learn a love of music and the disposition to be life long music makers by watching the adults in their lives model music making with enjoyment and enthusiasm! And because very young children instinctively respond to and imitate their loved ones, the active participation of parents and caregivers – regardless of their musical ability – is an essential part of the rich musical environment we create. Music Together parents discover what a powerful role model they are for their child, just by having fun with the music themselves! We will be helping grown ups to relax, find their inner silliness and enjoy making music right along with their kids.

Is there a specific age recommendation? Should parents and kids come?

Music Together is a parent/child based music development program for children aged birth to five years old and the adults in their lives who love them!

Were you at last year’s Seattle Children’s Festival? If so, what was the experience like for you?

Yes!  We absolutely loved the idea of an event that introduced parents and children to the joy of music making and the arts!  We’re huge advocates of music development during a child’s primary years and wanted to share and contribute any way we could for the benefit of our community!  We loved being a part of Seattle’s Children Festival from the beginning!

What is your connection to Northwest Folklife?

Initially we learned of Northwest Folklife through one of our fabulous teachers, Lara Clark, who was on the board of Northwest Folklife. She initially was the one who brought us all to it.  We have done events to benefit Northwest Folklife in the past and will again in the future.

What kinds of music/arts/performance/entertainment do you typically seek out around Seattle or the Pacific Northwest? Any recommendations?

Everything!  We love the theatre, ballet, symphony, concerts – Seattle and the Greater Puget Sound area is rich with the arts!  Seattle Children’s Theatre, 5th Ave, STG (Seattle Theatre Group), the Paramount.  Concerts at Chateau Ste Michelle, Marymoor – Take advantage of it all!

What does Folklife mean to you?

A communal and universal celebration of the arts in Seattle!  A huge sampling of various cultures in the arts coming together in one place!

What’s next for you after Seattle Children’s Festival?

We will continue with our mission to spread the joy and benefits of family music making to our communities!  We’ll be celebrating our 10th year of doing just this in 2016!


Learn more and connect with Sunshine Music Together here and join their conversation on Facebook.


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Podorythmie at the Seattle Children’s Festival

Podo crankie croppedThe crankies are coming! If you relish shadow puppets, homemade folk art, step-dancing, story-telling with an occasional fiddle and accordion playing, then Podorythmie’s crankie workshop is the place for you!

We are ecstatic to welcome this Folklife veteran group to our 2nd annual Seattle Children’s Festival. Podorythmie is always delighted to participate at Folklife. This incredible group has been creating smiles and laughter for five years now, and while four of those years were spent on the Northwest Folklife Festival stages, we are eager to include them for first time at the this year’s Children’s Festival! 

Step-DancingThis dazzling group celebrates Quebecois music and dance in a unique way for everyone to enjoy, so you don’t want to miss out on this workshop! Podorythmie consist of five talented members who all play in important role to create magic within every performance. What will make their workshop at Children’s Festival amazing is that it will include not one, but four crankies! Half movie, half homemade folk art, crankies are illustrations on cloth reels presented in a frame and hand-cranked scrolling slowly, while telling of a story, playing music and step-dancing. Now imagine that times four!

Don’t miss Podorythmie’s crankie workshop in the Armory Lofts at our 2nd annual Seattle Children’s Festival, and come introduce yourself to their new friend, “Accordion Man Automaton!”

Grace Love and The True Loves

Q&A with Grace Love of Grace Love and the True Loves

Northwest Folklife feels honored to have Grace Love and the True Loves perform at the 2015 Northwest Folklife Festival. She is blowing up this year, performing at not only Folklife, but Timber! Outdoor Music Festival, and Bumbershoot!

We recently had the chance to have a little chat with Grace Love herself about herself, her sound, and the True Loves.

NWFL:  Are you originally from Seattle? If so, which neighborhood?

GL: I am not- I was born in Memphis, TN and raised in the lovely city of Tacoma, WA. 

NWFL: How did the True Loves come to be, and where did the name come from?

GL: I was doing a solo project for a while and the guitarist, bassist, and drummer has a jam going and invited me to sit in. I obligied, and the rest is the story unfolding in front of everyone. I’m not sure where the name True Loves came from I think it was a play on my name and getting as vintage as we could. 

NWFL: How long have you been interested in/singing and performing soul music? Does it predate the formation of the band?

GL: I have been in the arts all of my life- I didn’t pursue it until I was about 19, my mother passes and I thought life is too short to do the things you don’t want to do. I never thought I could have a full backing band, when it began to form I just let it flow.

NWFL: How would you describe your sound to people who have never listened to you before?

GL: I say original Seattle Soul most people nod as if they get it. Then I just say come out and listen to the band.

NWFL: Why did you choose to release your singles, and eventually your album, on vinyl?

GL: Because it holds true to originality- we aren’t like other groups and also the sound is by far the best and it’s a bucket list for a lot of us in the group. 

NWFL: How does it feel to be playing Northwest Folklife Festival, Timber, and Bumbershoot all in the same year, before your album is even out?

GL: I personally feel blessed, and humbled, to those who know me, know I have been working hard at it for a very long time. It’s going to be an amazing story to tell in years to come. 

NWFL: What can we expect to see during your performance at Folklife?

GL: Soul drenched and pure heart warming emotions and lost of laughing and dancing. 

8.     If you could perform alongside anyone, living or dead, who would you choose?

GL: As hard as that question is probably Ray Charles- he’s my go to when I need a change in my spirit!

She will be performing Saturday May, 23 at Northwest Folklife Festival, from 7:45 p.m.-8:15 p.m. at the Xfinity Mural Amphitheatre. You can check out her other upcoming tour dates on her Facebook page, or website at

Reggae Rising

Reggae Rising: Hip-Hop’s Roots in Reggae Music

Reggae RisingReggae has been at the forefront in the development of music for many years now. From Electronic Dance Music to Pop to Punk to Disco and several other music genres today, you can hear the influence of Reggae coming from their core. One genre of music in particular that is directly influenced from Reggae is Hip-Hop. Those familiar with Hip-Hop’s history know that the culture was started in the late 70’s in the Bronx, NYC. The founding fathers of the culture are Afrika Bambatta, Grandmaster Flash and DJ Kool Herc. DJ Kool Herc being a native of Kingston, Jamaica always credits his Jamaican roots for his early techniques and development of the culture.

Reggae music’s traditions of dubbing out tracks and toasting on the microphone are a direct lead in to hip-hop’s sampling & emceeing (now known as rapping). In Jamaica, dubbing out a track was the same as making a instrumental remix of a original song. It would usually be the B-side of a Jamaican 7″ single with the original song being the A-side. It involves stripping away most of the instrumentation of the song, vocals and melody highlighting the heavy drums and bass line. This would allow for a artist to “toast” or chat live on top the beat in the same way a Hip-Hop emcee can freestyle over the instrumental of their favorite track. And well known Jamaican Dub architect Lee Scratch Perry created the idea of putting sound effects such as babies crying, gunshots, breaking glass, etc. into his dubs and tracks thus inventing sampling. So as you see, elements of Hip-Hop can be traced back to techniques that came from Jamaican studios years earlier.

Originally, early DJs in Jamaica would get on the microphone just to promote albums or hype up tracks. Foundation Dancehall artist Daddy U-Roy was one of the first artists to actually toast phrases that fit in with the words of the song in addition to his call and response style and exclamations of “Wow” & Yeah”. This style is where rapping draws its roots from. Back in the Bronx, a emcee by the name of Coke La Rock worked alongside DJ Kool Herc hyping up crowds in the style reminicant of the Jamaican Sound System toasting style. He didn’t do full on lyrical flows like rappers today, but he would hype up the crowd with party motivating slogans like “To tha beat y’all!” or “Rock on My Mellow!”. Many old school listeners refer to him as the first Hip Hop emcee.

From the late 70’s and into 80’s, the toasting style in Jamaica progressed and more toasters (also known as Dee-Jays) such as Ranking Joe, Charlie Chaplin, Yellowman and Eek A Mouse appeared on the scene with a more lyrical rhyming style. They would record songs on top of sparse riddims (instrumental tracks) made from various producers like Junjo Lawes, Linval Thompson, Gussie Clarke & Jah Thomas thus creating the Dancehall style. During this time, Dee-Jay records became more important than the Roots Reggae sound which had dominated Jamaica for the majority of the 70’s. Another popular trend in this time was the soundclash. Soundclashes featured rival Dee-Jays and Soundsystems who would compete head to head in front of live crowds to showcase who had the biggest & toughest sound. This trend also directly influenced Hip-Hop in the US as Breakdancers & Emcees from different crews would have Challenge competitions to display who had the best skills on the mic or on the floor with their breakdance moves. This allowed the youth to focus their skills on something other than the every day violence that came with living in the inner cities. Both African Americans and Jamaicans alike could relate to the social and economic hardships they faced daily.

The late 80’s and throughout the 90’s were important years in regards to Reggae and Hip-Hop crossing paths in the United States. There were several Hip Hop artists coming out during this time such as: Boogie Down Productions, Poor Righteous Teachers, Just-Ice, Heavy-D & Jamalski who were spicing up their beats & rhymes with the Reggae flavor. This was also the time that many Jamaican Dancehall acts such as Shabba Ranks, Super Cat, Cutty Ranks, Buju Banton & Mad Cobra were getting record deals on American labels and starting to collaborate with US Hip Hop artists. This era also birthed the very popular Reggae/Hip Hop remix trend. That was when a producer would take the acapella (lyrics) of a popular Reggae Dancehall song and place them on top of a popular Hip Hop or R&B instrumental. Nowadays this style is referred to as a “mashup”.

Although the Reggae/Hip-Hop crossover style was more dominant on the east coast in NYC, the west coast has had it’s share of artists who have been experimenting with that flavor for many years. One artist in particular is MISTA CHATMAN (formerly know as DJ Collage). Chatman has spent several years visiting and performing on both coasts taking in the flavor. In fact, he is currently working on a mixtape titled “Chat Down Memory Lane” in which he will be performing Reggae Dancehall lyrics over popular old skool Hip Hop and R&B beats revisiting the remix vibe that was popular in the 90’s.

You can check out MISTA CHATMAN live and direct on this years Reggae Rising stage along with Seattle based Organic Hip Hop Reggae crew INDIGITIZE, Eugene based Hip Hop/Soul/Reggae outfit THE ELENA LEONA PROJECT, Seattle based 80’s style Reggae band DIGITAL LION with guest Jamaican born MC SELASSIE I SOLDIER on the mic and Seattle’s top foundation Reggae artist CLINTON FEARON & THE BOOGIE BROWN BAND returning to nice up the lawn. Time to get irie..BO! BO! BO!

Blog post submit by Lawrence Chatman.

Folklife 2014 - Friday

Speak Out!

When communications theory philosopher Marshall Mcluhan wrote “the medium is the message,” he could very well have been referring to hip-hop.  MCing/rapping, DJing/scratching, break dancing and graffiti writing are more than just an art or a performance style.

6NtheMorning COVERDr. Daudi Abe, professor of Humanities at Seattle Central College and author of 6’N the Morning: West Coat Hip-Hop Music 1987 -1992 & the Transformation of Mainstream Culture (Over the Edge Books, 2013) calls hip-hop “a living cultural movement.”

“American rapper, singer, and actor Ice-T said rap is something you do – hip-hop is something you live,” he notes. “In the 80s, if you listened to underlying messages, hip-hop was a portent, a warning, for what was going to happen next. Similar to a news broadcast, it was a lot more political than the general public realized.”

During the 70s and 80s, Seattle was known for its rock ‘n’ roll. Natives like Jimi Hendrix and Nancy and Ann Wilson (Heart) were giving global attention to the “Emerald City.”  But alongside rock ‘n’ roll, hip-hop was emerging here, sparked by New York City’s hip-hop culture.

“From the beginning, hip-hop was very much about challenging the status quo – this was especially true of graffiti art,” says Dr. Abe. “During the late 60s and early 70s, hip-hop was a response to repression. Young people felt disconnected and marginalized from mainstream culture.  It was the first medium to give fearless, explicit voice to young, black males. It was used as a way to push back, tell who you were, where you were from and to make your mark.”

Over the past 40 years, Hip Hop culture has seen dramatic changes since its early start on independent record labels. Edgy experimentation has given way to conglomerate blueprints. Within mainstream acceptance, it has evolved. Critics worry the “essence of hip-hop” and its “news broadcast” may have been compromised in the process.

But amidst this change, Macklemore’s multiple Grammy wins suggest hip-hop is becoming part of a larger narrative and a platform on which anyone can make a culturally relevant political stand. And as in its beginnings, it’s still a potent lens through which the artist views the world.

“Jazz, Reggae, Blues, Hip-Hop – these are all necessary to a vital society because they spring from creative energy within oppressed populations,” Dr. Abe observes. “Life experience informs ones’ views. We have a long way to go. But getting together and talking about these divergent views is the kind of dialogue which will help get us past our differences.  I’m honored to be a resource for Northwest Folklife and to assist in making this year’s cultural focus successful. ”


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

Bucharest Drinking Team. Credit: Diane Smithers

What to See at Folklife #463: The Balkan Misfits Party

(Big thanks to Marchette Dubois for this guest post! You can see our full lineup of bands at the Festival website, 

Bucharest Drinking Team. Credit: Diane Smithers

At 2009’s Folklife Festival, in a jam-packed VERA Project, hundreds of sweaty, ebullient people linked hands and line-danced at the first Balkan Misfits Showcase.   Though it was called the Balkan Bridge in those days, it was showcasing the same community.  Five years on, our misfit contingent is doing well and we have held out our hands to new friends and met many new and lovely people.   My name is Marchette and I am the volunteer coordinator for the Balkan Misfits showcase – I am also the Artistic Director of one of the misfit bands – The Bucharest Drinking Team.

This year’s Showcase will highlight four amazing and genre-stretching bands: Olympia’s Erev Rav will open the show with their fantastic fusion of traditional Klezmer and funk  – Daniel Landin, the leader and manager of the band described their music as “World Klezmer Fusion.” And goes on to explain:   “We take gorgeous Eastern European Jewish folk songs, and lay them atop funk rhythms. …Or we might have a traditional bulgar rhythm with a tune, but then we add a bebop solo on clarinet. And our arrangements are influenced by Led Zeppelin.”   Check out their brand new video:  The Funk Tash”.

The second band will be your host band, Seattle’s Bucharest Drinking Team – Our music rises form the wells and stills of the Romanian taraf, Balkan Brass bands, Europop, and a variety of other Balkan and Eastern European party music.  We also put our own spin on everything we do.  Hear for yourself our reggae take on the classic tune Opa Cupa.

Erev Rav. Credit: New Spin Media

If that’s not enough brass, stick around for Seattle’s favorite Balkan-inspired Brass party:  Orkestar Zirkonium, whose sensibility for creating music is securely planted in the world of FUN.  Their representative Kevin Hinshaw describes their process this way: “…Balkan Brass [is] our core, for sure.  But if somebody in the band loves a Latin tune or a Bollywood soundtrack, that’s fair game too as long as we like playing it.” He continues: “Sometimes we do straight transcriptions.  But some arrangers get inspired and will try to be more creative.  (Like Whitney squishing Ederlezi from 4/4 into 7/8, or Jerry’s raucous-down-to-tiny rendition of Zaspo Janko.)”. I hope we get to hear some of these inspired arrangements!  You can also look forward to seeing OZ opening for Romania’s Fanfare Ciocarlia July 24 at the Triple Door!!!  Get tickets here.

Closing out this year’s show is Portland’s Russian powerhouseChervona Their bandleader André Temkin describes their music: “…you can find elements of gypsy punk, klezmer, balkan brass, slavic polka and more. There are many bands in Europe playing similar music, but what makes Chervona different from all the bands in this genre? I think the biggest difference is our unique personality and artistic approach in creating and playing music…”  He talks about their high energy and audience participation, and I think you will not be disappointed with how they will keep your feet moving.


We Invite you all to the party on the Fountain Lawn Stage Saturday night.  Where we will bring you Balkan and Eastern European inspired music interpreted with our own 21st century voices.

Love these bands? Support them by buying their music!

Erev Rav:

Bucharest Drinking Team:

Orkestar Zirkonium:


Orkestar Zirkonium

The Joy Mills Band

What to See at Folklife #429: The Emerald City Songwriters Circles

The Joy Mills Band

(Thanks Wes Weddell for this guest post! See the full schedule of workshops and participatory jams at

For the fifth consecutive year now, Folklife will offer the opportunity for anyone at the Festival to share an original song with listeners and fellow songwriters in the Emerald City Songwriter Circles.  The circles have become a celebration of originality, creativity, and the regional songwriting scene.

The guidelines are simple:

-Anyone is welcome to join the circle and share an original song when it is his/her turn.  Listeners welcome too!

-Choose a song of 5 minutes or less to share.

-Please listen actively and avoid playing along unless you are specifically asked by the song-sharer.

Come by the Shaw Room Saturday or Sunday (5:00-7:00pm) to contribute a song or join in the listening.  Hosts Wes Weddell, Nancy K. Dillon, Tai Shan, Steve Wacker, Carolyn Cruso, and Mark Iler, and Joy Mills will be on-hand to offer gentle guidance if necessary.  Hope to see you there!


Image courtesy Wes Weddell

Emerald City Songwriter Circles

Saturday & Sunday, May 25 & 26


Shaw Room (Acoustic Stage)

Seattle singer/songwriter Wes Weddell has released five CDs over the past decade, his latest a collection of demos from his involvement with The Bushwick Book Club Seattle (with whom he will also be performing at the festival).  He founded and runs Puget’s Sound Productions, a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to creating community live-music spaces.