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!

Donate your Lightly Used Clothes and Housewares and Benefit Folklife!

150609_Savers-0781_Muneca_Max_PaulNorthwest Folklife is teaming up with 2015 Festival Sponsor Value Village to host a donation drive running through December 11th, 2015.  Bring in your gently-used clothing, shoes, accessories, books, linens, and small household items (no furniture) to the Northwest Folklife offices located at 158 Thomas Street (right next to Seattle Center) and Value Village will pay Northwest Folklife for each pound donated.  This is a great way to recycle clothing and goods that you may no longer need while supporting Folklife!

Learn more about how your donations will be used here.  Tax receipts will be available for goods donated.  The Northwest Folklife offices are open Monday through Friday from 10am to 5pm – feel free to give us a call if you plan on dropping goods off and we will have someone ready to assist you.   Please contact Katie McColgan at or call 206.684.7043 with any questions.


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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!”

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.

Grab your partner for a contra dance!

Long lines go forward and back. Promenade across and shift one place to face a new couple. Ladies chain across, star left one and a quarter, allemande right your “shadow” and look for your partner to gypsy left one and a half around. Find your partner: balance and swing!

roadhouse_dancers-13If this sounds familiar and your feet are already beginning to move just imaging the formations and the music, you alreadyknow Contra dancing is always wildly popular at Folklife with hours of dancing each day of the festival and many of the best contra dance bands from around the Northwest.  And you’ve also begun to anticipate a Contra dance party unlike any other in the United States; one huge hall full of some of the best Contra dance bands, dancers and callers anywhere in the country.

But if you’ve never contra danced, why not give it a try this year at Folklife? It is riotous fun – and its basic steps are easy to learn. You’ll never find a better place to start Contra dancing than Folklife. A caller leads a “walk through” before the music starts and then prompts the dancers while the music is playing. The dance moves are nothing fancy, just simple walking steps in time to the music.

Contra dancing is derived from English country dancing and was brought to the American colonies by 18th century settlers. The “Virginia Reel” is an early example. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were avid contra dancers. Dancers dance to live dance bands, which may include fiddles, flute, guitar, piano, and bass. Occasionally you can hear drums, saxophone, or trombone.

Bob “Mac” McQuillen

This year, we are mourning the loss of Bob McQuillen, a contra dance musician who was well-known and loved nationally, but held a special place at Northwest Folklife.  He had performed at the Festival for many years and was influential to generations of dancers and musicians.  The Rhythm Rollers will be doing a special set honoring Bob McQuillen and playing many of his original tunes in the Roadhouse (Fisher Pavilion) at 7:00 pm on Friday, May 23rd.  We also plan to have a tribute wall to honor Mac—a place for people to bring and share stories and photos about his life.

The full Contra dance schedule will be online soon. So whether you’re a beginner or a pro, plan to join us for a spin around the dance floor. We’ll see you in the Contra line! johannamiller on PhotoPeach – Fresh slideshows to go!

Family Fun at the 2014 Festival!

hula hoopsExplore the bigger-than-ever-before Discovery Zone, a family-friendly hands-on activities area with performances, workshops, and activities that are fun for people of all ages!

Be sure to check out the Discovery Zone, the family friendly hands-on activities area with performances, workshops and activities that are fun for people of all ages!  The Discovery Zone will be located in the Next 50 Plaza and open from 11am-6pm Friday-Monday of the festival.  This year, the area will be even bigger and better than ever in preparation for Northwest Folklife’s first annual Seattle Children’s Festival happening on October 12, 2014 on the Seattle Center Grounds.

Look for more information on all of the fun activities that will be happening in the Discovery Zone, coming soon!Wooden Boats

2 Days Until our Winter Fireside Party!

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We’re looking forward to seeing you this Saturday.

We’re counting down the days to our first annual Winter Fireside Party this Saturday, January 25th at the Vera Project. We’ll have a limited number of tickets available at the door so if you haven’t purchased your tickets yet, order your tickets now:

Still planning your day? Click here to view the schedule for the day!

You can also purchase tickets for the Northwest Fiddle Tour! Start off the day at the Vera Project and then head up to the Phinney Neighborhood Center to experience a whole day of fiddlers.  Between the two events, you will have the chance to hear a wide array of many of the best players of all different styles and backgrounds in the Northwest!  Save money and get a discounted combined ticket to both events.

Folklife Founders, Vivian & Phil Williams

Northwest Fiddle Showcase

Winter Fireside Party, Vera Project – Seattle Center Grounds, 4pm

One of the highlights of Northwest Folklife’s Winter Fireside Party will be a Northwest Fiddle Showcase, an excited and fast-paced show of both up-and-coming new fiddlers and some pillars of Northwest Fiddle traditions. The show will feature fiddlers of various different styles including Bluegrass, Mexican music of the Tierra Caliente, Cajun twin fiddling and more.  We’ll be featuring some of the hottest young fiddlers in the Seattle scene such as The Onlies, a band of teenage traditional music superstars, as well as some of the most celebrated and experienced tradition bearers, such as Vivian and Phil Williams, who have been documenting and performing Northwest fiddle music since the 1950s.  Paul Anastasio, Karen England and Jim Newberry, and Ben Hunter (of Renegade Stringband) will also perform to create this cross-generational fiddle extravaganza.  Please join us on January 25, 2014 at the Vera Project on the Seattle Center grounds for the Winter Fireside Party starting at 2pm with the Fiddle Showcase at 4pm.

Seattle Folklore Society’s Fiddler’s Showcase Concert

Catch Paul Anastasio on the Northwest Fiddle Tour!

Seattle Folklore Society, Phinney Neighborhood Center – 6532 Phinney Ave N, 7:30 pm

The Seattle Folklore Society presents an evening with some of the finest traditional fiddlers in the Pacific Northwest on January 25th at 7:30 at the Phinney Neighborhood Center. Featured Fiddlers are: Jeff Anderson – Norwegian American; Paul Anastasio – Tierra Caliente and Western Swing; Gary Lee Moore – Oklahoma/Texas; Jamie Fox – Metis/Northern Plains; Ramon Selby – Old Time Northwestern/Western Swing; Hank Bradley – Southern string band.  Hosted by Stuart Williams.

Get your tickets now for the Northwest Fiddle Tour:





Winter Fireside Party Schedule

We’re counting down the days until our Winter Fireside Party; a benefit for Northwest Folklife on January 25, 2014 at the Vera Project on Seattle Center grounds. We’ll be featuring some of your favorite Northwest performers on three stages! Doors open at 1:30PM, programming starts at 2PM…and will continue until 11:00PM.

Let the excitement begin…

Main Stage –  Featuring Square Dancing, Northwest Fiddle Showcase and Full Bands

Square Dance with The Onlies! Main Stage, 2:00pm

2:00pm – Square Dancing with The Onlies and Caller Gabe Strand

4:00pm – The Northwest Fiddle Showcase at 4pm highlights a varied line-up of some of the best fiddlers in the Northwest such as Phil & Vivian Williams, Ben Hunter (of Renegade Stringband), Karen England & Jim Newberry, The Onlies, and Paul Anastasio.

5:45pm Jason Dodson & Kevin Barrans of The Maldives

The Sojourners, Main Stage, 7:00pm

7:00pm The Sojourners
8:15pm Ravenna Woods
9:30pm The Shivas

Gallery StageSpecial acoustic performances in the Vera Gallery include:

2:30pm Juliana & PAVA
3:30pm Orville Johnson
4:30pm Vikesh Kapoor
5:30pm Baby Gramps

And don’t miss the Folklife Fireside Tent presented by KEXP: a cozy, outdoor heated and fire-lit space for jams and conversation with musicians:

2:15pm Phil and Vivian Williams
3:15pm Swing Jam with Paul Anastasio
4:15pm Les Pamplemousses
5:45pm Old Time Fiddle Jam with Tony Mates
6:45pm Blues Jam and Q+A with Orville Johnson
7:45pm Cajun Jam with Whozyamama
9:00pm Balkan Jam with Marchette DuBois

Join the Balkan jam hosted by Marchette DuBois in the KEXP Fireside Tent, 9:00pm

(Food and drink available in the venue.)

Purchase a ticket today for a full day of music, dancing, food, and friends.

Already have plans on January 25th? Consider making a donation of $25 or more to Folklife and support the largest community supported Festival in the nation.


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.