The Onlies

Have You Met The Onlies?

Hailing from Seattle, Washington, The Onlies’ eclectic assortment of fiddle-driven music bridges Celtic, traditional bluegrass, and contemporary Canadian and American tunes to create a sound all their own. Multi-talented members Leo Shannon, Riley Calcagno, and Sami Braman are Garfield High School juniors who’ve literally played together since they were two years old. These young talented musicians bring powerhouse vocals and a variety of instruments to the table in their performances, and the Northwest Folklife is honored to share more about this dynamic trio, so read the Q&A below!

The Onlies


Tell us about yourselves!

(Sami) We are a Seattle-based trio with our hearts rooted in old music from Appalachia, Ireland, Scotland, and Canada. We also write fiddle tunes and songs, creating a contemporary, original sound. By entrenching ourselves in authentic music traditions, we can move that music tradition forward. We started fiddling at five and would set out our cases at Folklife to busk. Since then, we’ve played with musicians as cool as Elvis Costello and as un-cool as old, toothless Kentucky banjo-pickers (who, we realized, are actually the coolest of all).


Why do you do what you do?

(Leo) The three of us have grown up surrounded by American, Irish, and Cape Breton traditional music and going to various folk festivals in the Northwest, so playing the music was a natural next step. As we encountered more people in the trad music community, we all were inspired to dedicate our lives to playing this music. Now, with strong connections formed (both to the music and to the people who we’ve met through it), traditional music is such an integral part of our lives that we couldn’t ever imagine stopping.


If you could explain your work in three words, what would they be?


  • Traditional
  • Joyful
  • Real


How have you been involved in your art form’s practice or evolution?

(Riley) Traditional music is a living and oral music. We have been fortunate enough to proverbially and literally sit at the feet of the masters of the traditions we are part of and soak in the music and culture just as people have been doing for hundreds of years, elder to youth. It is festivals like Folklife that have enabled us to do this.At the same time, we have also collaborated with many musicians to take tradition in new places, combinations of music and ideas that are now part of this living music.


We know you have been involved with Northwest Folklife for some time now – what do you think you have you learned or discovered by participating in Northwest Folklife?

(Leo) That there is a local community of people who have dedicated themselves to playing and preserving traditional art forms, and will support and encourage, and best of all, play with us!


Do you think Northwest Folklife has an influence on our greater community? 

(Sami) Whenever a city holds a massive festival geared toward sharing music from different cultures and traditions, the inspiration, community, and music will permeate the barriers of the festival and into the greater community. This is exactly what we’ve seen happen with our experiences at Folklife. When we leave Folklife, we know we’ll see that community of folk artists and musicians outside of Seattle Center. We know that we’ll come across them at different local events and the inspiration will continue. Northwest Folklife makes Seattle a hub of folk culture, music, and creation.


With the fast-approaching second annual Seattle Children’s Festival in-mind, do you think kids need Northwest Folklife arts and culture programs?

(Riley) We don’t think we can speak for all kids, but we can say that we needed Folklife (and still do). It was a place to learn about cultures entirely different from our own and watch musicians we looked up to play music we found out that we loved. Folklife is a place for all ages to learn about the world in a way that goes so far beyond sitting in a classroom. If every kid in Seattle got to take part in Folklife, those kid’s lives would be deeply enriched.


For more about The Onlies, visit them online or on Facebook.


Folklife 2014 - Friday

Apply Now to Perform at the 2016 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.

Last 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.Folklife 2014 - Monday

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.



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.

Prefest Web



Featuring Porter Ray, Gabriel Teodros, Industrial Revelation, Hosted by Larry Mizell Jr.

FRI, MAY 1, 2015

8:00 PM at the Crocodile Cafe $10 Adv. Get your tickets today!

Here’s a peek at our performers:

Porter Ray: Listen

A 25-year-old rapper, Porter Ray Sullivan was once described to me by Shabazz Palaces’ Ishmael Butler as “the Golden Child.” A son of Seattle’s Central District, Porter Ray namechecks Butler and revered Seattle MC Infinite as influences. Appropriately, “5950′s” is 206 from head to toe; named for a model of New Era baseball cap, it’s described as sporting Mariner teal throughout Porter’s stunning debut, BLK GLD. Here, Porter reels off the minutiae of murder, betrayal and narcotic sales with a poetic eye that recalls vintage Nas, tempered with a numb, gray-sky detachment (and aided by a sterling verse from Nate Jack) all over shimmering piano keys, a subdued drum shuffle and quiet-storm rain effects. In this city — built on, around, and seemingly under water — it’s even easier than you’d think to get washed, depending on where you’re standing.

Gabriel Teodros: Listen

To know that another world is possible, and bring it to life through music; this has always been the mission of emcee Gabriel Teodros. He first made a mark with the group Abyssinian Creole, and reached an international audience with his critically-acclaimed solo debut Lovework. He has since set stages on fire all across the US, Canada, Mexico and Ethiopia; performing alongside the likes of Lupe Fiasco, Mos Def & Talib Kweli, Zap Mama, Digable Planets and Fishbone to name a few. 2012 saw the release of 2 more critically-acclaimed albums, Teodros’ solo Colored People’s Time Machine, as well as CopperWire’s Earthbound; a space opera of a hip hop ride (set in the year 2089) that Teodros recorded with fellow Ethiopian-American artists Meklit Hadero and Burntface. In 2014 Teodros is set to release 2 new solo projects. The first is Children Of The Dragon – another journey through time, Hip Hop, Ethiopian musical traditions and shifting homelands with Washington, DC-based producer AirMe, followed by Evidence Of Things Not Seen – a reminiscent portrait of right now with Auckland, New Zealand-based producer SoulChef.

Industrial Revelation: Listen

Seattle, WA–Garage-jazz quartet Industrial Revelation has been making music together in various incarnations for a decade, but with their new studio album Oak Head (October 15, 2013) they’re poised to make a major statement in the world of black improvised music. Founded by D’Vonne Lewis, one of Seattle’s most sought-after drummers and the grandson of Seattle rhythm and blues legend Dave Lewis, the band also features Ahamefule J. Oluo on trumpet, Evan Flory-Barnes on bass, and Josh Rawlings on keyboards. Individually, the four members of I.R. have worked with nearly every major artist in Seattle, and plenty more beyond–from Macklemore and Das Racist to Robert Glasper and Wynton Marsalis. Collectively, the band is equally at home playing at a house party in Olympia or on stage at Benaroya Hall, and they bring that affinity for the epic and the intimate to every track onOak Head.

With their previous albums, I.R. sought to capture the engrossing, stomping scope of their live shows, which turn on a dime from hushed sincerity to sweaty bombast and have earned the band an obsessive cult following (City Arts’s Jonathan Zwickel described I.R. in concert as, “beautiful, dramatic, psychedelic, funny, funky, swinging, punchy”). But Oak Head marks a stark, pointed departure, both musically and conceptually. The album celebrates the introspective capacity of studio recordings, distilling and polishing I.R.’s messy fire and powerful spontaneity into something utterly new. “On Oak Head,” Oluo explains, “we embraced the refinement of the studio–it’s a very deliberate album–but at the core of every single one of those songs is a group of people playing in one room together at the same time, feeding off each other’s energy and welcoming the unknown.” Lewis adds, “If there’s one thing about this band, it’s that we all just play from our hearts. This album represents that so well–it’s just straight focus, straight stripped-down emotions.”

The album’s advance single, “Saying Goodbye (to rainbow socks and hair dye),” strikes a radiantly minimalist groove, layering a simple but obsessive melody (in Oluo’s sonorous flugelhorn) over a relentless, twinkling heartbeat held down by Rawlings on the Fender Rhodes. Penned by Flory-Barnes and largely improvised on the day of recording, “Saying Goodbye” is direct musical communication–so stripped of posturing that it’s almost above genre. That devotion to pure melody, to the rejection of the confines of genre, is the driving philosophy behind Oak Head.

I.R. recorded the album at a remote cabin called Oak Head over just two cold spring days–including some songs they’d been playing for over a year, and others that weren’t even written before they started setting up microphones. It’s a deeply honest, deeply personal piece of work, fixated on the idea that a simple, strong melody can be as experimental as the most esoteric art. Oluo explains: “Sincerity is the absolute ripest playground for experimentation. The idea that the two are at odds is a myth. It’s all about balance. The more you stretch to the experimental ends of music, the more you have to embrace the humanity of music. The taller the tree, the deeper the roots. The roots of this album go deep.”

“It’s a jump-off,” says Lewis. “Even though we’re four albums deep, Oak Head is just the beginning. With our earlier albums we were still growing, you know? Finding our focus. Now we can really get it going.”

-Written by Charles Mudede

Venue Information:
The Crocodile
2200 2nd Ave
Seattle, WA, 98121
Seattle Youth Poet Laureate 1

Seattle Youth Poet Laureate

Seattle PoetThis year at Folklife we are excited to announce that the City of Seattle is holding its inaugural Youth Poet Laureate Program. The Seattle Youth Poet Laureate aims to identify and honor local young writers and poets who are not only talented literary artists, but demonstrate a commitment to “civic and community engagement, poetry and performance, human relations, diversity and education across Seattle.”

Seattle Arts & Lectures’ Writers in the Schools program (SAL/WITS) and Urban Word NYC have joined together to create the Seattle Youth Poet Laureate program, supported locally and nationally by Northwest Folklife, Penmanship Books, and the Academy of American Poets.

Applications are currently being accepted from writers ages 14-19. The top eight finalists will perform during the Seattle Youth Poet Laureate Commencement Performance, which will be held during the 2015 Northwest Folklife Festival, Saturday May 23 at 1:00 p.m. in the Cornish Playhouse. At the performance, a panel of four judges will decide the winner. Along with being dubbed the 2015 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate, the winner will receive a book deal to publish their first book of poems and be able to travel across the city on a book tour.

The Seattle Youth Poet Laureate will attend events throughout the year, providing a platform to share their voice with the City of Seattle. The ideal candidate will be someone with not only great leadership skills, but a strong love for Seattle as well. Winning this title means that you will represent the City of Seattle and spread support for arts programs for youth throughout the community.

If this sounds like you, submit an application! Details can be found online here.

The deadline for submissions is April 24, 2015. The 2015 Northwest Folklife Festival will be held May 22-25, at the Seattle Center. The Cornish Playhouse is located at 201 Mercer St., Seattle, WA 98109. Admission is free!

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.

Photo by Dan Thornton


Northwest Folklife thrilled to be partnering with Kirkland Summerfest to program their Community Stage on Sunday, August 10th!

Celebrating their third season, Kirkland Summerfest will transform Kirkland’s Marina Park into a lively arts destination, a place where friends and neighbors can connect and share in a celebration of community spirit. We’re excited to have the opportunity to showcase Folklife performers in a new enviFolklife 2014 - Sundayronment!


Catch some of your favorite Folklife performers that Sunday, including:

11:00 – 11:50 AM: Capoeira Angola

12:10 – 1:00 PM: Grupo Folklorico Guadalajara

1:20 – 2:10 PM: Carrigaline

2:30 – 3:20 PM: Armstrong, Lawton, and Katz

3:40 – 4:30 PM: Joseph Giant

4:50 – 6:00 PM: PARTICIPATORY DANCE: Balkan Dance with Jana Rickel

Get Ready! Folklife Starts This Friday!

The 43rd annual Northwest Folklife Festival is almost here!  As you get ready to come down to Seattle Center for four days of nonstop music, dance, workshops, food, crafts and more, here are some useful things to know:

There have been various programming and venue changes for the festival this year:

  • Trad Stage This is a brand new stage! The Trad Stage will highlight some of the best traditional musicians of the Northwest, pulling some of the programming from past years’ much-loved Northwest Court Stage. You can expect to hear North American and European traditional music from a variety of genres including Irish, Québécois, Old-Time, and more.
  • Cornish Playhouse – Formerly the Intiman Theatre, this is a brand-new venue for Folklife and will be one of our main theatre-style stages highlighting music and dance showcases.
  • Discovery Zone – Explore the bigger-than-ever-before Discovery Zone, family-friendly hands-on activities area with performances, workshops, and activities that are fun for people of all ages. Located between The Armory & EMP Sky Church Stages.
  • International Fountain Pavilion – Located West of the Fountain Lawn Stage and directly East of the Alki Court, this will be Folklife’s home to the Visual Arts. Look for our Cultural Focus Art Exhibition as well as featured poster art designers.
  • Northwest Rooms – Music and Dance Workshops have moved from the Northwest Rooms and EMP Learning Labs to the Armory Lofts (3rd Floor of the Armory), as the NW Rooms are now home to our partner, KEXP.
  • Narrative Stage – Will now be held in the JBL Theatre inside of the EMP Museum.
  • All Ages | All Day – This programming moved to Monday (formerly on Sunday) and will be held in the EMP Museum’s Sky Church. The programming this year will highlight the vibrant Hip Hop community of the Northwest.
  • Armory Improvements – Two workshop spaces are now located on the 3rd floor, in the Seattle Center’s newly refurbished conference rooms.
  • Jamming Hot Spots – Check out the Festival map for Jamming Hot Spots – New areas designated for open jams.

Getting Here

You might notice some construction around Seattle Center—if you’re driving to the festival, please take note!   The Seattle Department of Transportation is working with Northwest Folklife and Seattle Center to ensure open and clearly marked access to the Seattle Center campus for the 2014 Northwest Folklife Festival. For complete, up-to-date information on current street conditions, click here.

There are many great options of how to get to the festival!  The Seattle Center Monorail can whisk you to the Center from downtown in 90 seconds. Fifteen Metro bus routes serve Seattle Center from around the region, and there is easy access by car from both Interstate 5 and Highway 99.  Plentiful parking is available.  Public transportation to and from the Northwest Folklife Festival can be planned by going here.

Festival Tips from the Folklife Crew:

  • Coming to the festival with your family? Designate a safety spot on Seattle Center grounds where you will meet in case of separation.  Folklife draws around 250,000 people each year and the Seattle Center can get very crowded.  Having a safety spot can help in these situations!  Also, if you or a member of your family is lost—find any of the Folklife staff or volunteers (look for a Folklife badge or vest) and they can help!
  • Drink water!  There are water fountains in most of the indoor venues at Folklife.  Bring a bottle and fill it up!  Also, look for the plethora of delicious drinks options available from our food vendors.
  • Looking for performer CDs?  All performers are encouraged to sell CDs next to their stage before and after their performance.  Look for them then or find them online through links on the Folklife Schedule.
  • Check out all of the performers, workshops and more coming to Folklife and start planning your weekend!  You can make your own personal festival schedule using our online schedule.  But remember to keep yourself open to discovering new things!  There are over 800 performing groups at Folklife this year, so you might find yourself waylaid by a new group you had never heard of!  Try something new—learn to play the didgeridoo or dance the tango.  The possibilities are endless… 

We’re very excited for Folklife this year and we hope that you are too!  Can’t wait to see you all at the Festival!


Centrum & Folklife: A Match Made in Heaven

This year, Northwest Folklife is thrilled to be partnering with Centrum to bring you blues workshops at the Folklife Festival this year!  Centrum is an arts organization located on Fort Worden State Park in Port Townsend, Washington that is a gathering place for artists and creative thinkers from around the world, students of all ages and backgrounds, and audiences seeking extraordinary cultural enrichment.  For decades, Northwest Folklife and Centrum have worked with overlapping communities and served many of the same constituents through our programs. We’re very excited to be working together and bringing some of the magic of Centrum workshops to add to the magic of Folklife!

At the 2014 Northwest Folklife Festival, Centrum will be presenting a series of blues workshops in which musicians of all levels can come and learn from masters of acoustic blues.  The workshops this year will be: Lap Style Dobro with Orville Johnson, Piedmont Blues Guitar with Eric Freeman, and Blues Improvisation for Violin with Jon Parry. 

Centrum Presents:  Blues Workshops

Saturday, May 24th, Sunday, May 25th, Monday, May 26th – Armory Loft- East – 11:00-11:50am


Northwest Folklife Pays Tribute to Pete Seeger

There will be many ways to join Folklife in honoring the life and contributions of Pete Seeger at this year’s Festival coming up May 23-26th.

Folk singer and activist Peter “Pete” Seeger had a great influence not only on folk music, but countless musicians and attendees of Northwest Folklife. There will be a special Singalong Tribute to Pete at the Fisher Green Stage on Monday, May 26th from 1-3:45pm. The tribute will be hosted by Peter McKee, Tom Rawson, Lou Truskoff, Jean Geiger and Dan Maher. All are welcome to join in the sing along!

In partnership with SIFF Film Center, we’ll be screening Pete Seeger: Power of Song , Directed by Jim Brown, on Sunday, May 25th at 12:00PM.

Catch “Pete: The Songs and Times of Pete Seeger” in the JBL Theatre located in the EMP on Saturday, May 24th at 12pm. This is a multi-media live concert sing along celebrating the songs and times of Pete Seeger, hosted by Peter McKee.

Tom Rawson will present a “Children’s Pete Seeger Sing Along” in the Cornish Choral Courtyard on Saturday, May 24th at 2pm. Bring the little ones to introduce them to the songs of Pete Seeger!


See you all at the Festival!

For the LOVE of FILM – SIFF Film Center and Folklife unite. Part One.

In partnership with SIFF Film Center, the 2014 Festival presents bold and local films throughout the entire weekend. Come join us in the Film Center and get inspired!

Part One: This year, the Festival’s Cultural Focus celebrates India and their culture! We will be exploring and sharing India’s ancient history, unique heritage steeped in traditional arts, and its people, many of which have traveled from the country of their origin to various parts of the world taking with them the message of their culture. Some of these experiences can be found in features films like: Sita Sings the Blues – directed by Nina Paley, The Lunch Box – directed by Ritesh Batra, The Sound of Mumbai : A Musical Documentary– directed by Sarah McCathy and One Track Heart: The Story of Krishna Daas – directed by Jeremy Frindel.

Sita Sings the Blues, Director: Nina Paley Friday, 2PM

Sita Sings the Blues is a 2008 musical written, directed, produced and animated entirely by Nina Paley. This light-hearted version of the traditional Indian tale of Ramayana, a classic text in Hindu mythology, is cut up into four different artistic styles that blend together to convey the artist and directors own experiences, views, and perspective on the ancient Indian epic. The aspect of the story focuses on the relationship between Sita and Rama, gods incarnated as human beings, who even they can’t seem make their marriage work. Set in the 1920s, this satirically animated tale tells the story of Rama on his journey to save his wife Sita from the nearly invulnerable king of Lanka, Ravana. The entire movie is geared around Sita and Director Nina Paley and their misfortune with their unsuccessful romantic endeavors in a comical powerful way. Director Nina Paley describes it as “a tale of truth, justice and a woman’s cry for equal treatment”.

The Lunch Box, directed by Ritesh Batra Sunday, 2PM

The Lunch Box is an extraordinary drama about love, loss, and yearning between two strangers who shares their feelings through romantic notes. The legendary Dabbawallahs of Mumbai, India, deliver millions of lunchboxes a day throughout the city. They pick up containers packed by housewives and using public transportation takes them to the husbands’ desks. This love story begins when lonely housewife lla (Nimrat Kaur) decides to try adding some spice to her stale marriage by preparing a special lunch for her neglectful husband at work. Unfortunately, the delivery goes astray and, unbeknownst to her, is mistakenly delivered to another office worker, Saajan (Irrfan Khan), a governmental employ, lonely widower and a grumpy old man who is getting ready to retire. Curious about her husband’s lack of response, lla adds a note to the next day’s lunchbox, and thus begins an unusual friendship in which Saajan and lla can talk about their joys and sorrows without ever meeting in person.

The Sound of Mumbai: A Musical Documentary, Director Sarah McCarthy

Saturday, 2:55PM


For one emotional night, a group of slum children in Mumbai, India, get a chance to experience a different world and fosters hope as their lives change forever as they perform, The Sound of Music with the backing of the Bombay Chamber Orchestra and with Austrian professor and conductor Johannis Steinwender .With the music of Rodgers and Hammerstein as an undercurrent, the film follows them into their homes, giving glimpses of hard lives with little prospect for improvement. Director Sarah McCarthy wisely pitches much of the film through the eyes of the young man, whose own pressure to succeed coupled with a pure enthusiasm is both heart-breaking and infectious. Regarded by his family as their last hope to rise out of poverty, charming 11-year-old boy Ashish, is given a small solo in the performance and invests considerable hope in what this will do for his future. With a sort of “Slumdog Millionaire” syndrome, Ashish constantly reminds himself in writing or by talking to himself in the mirror that he needs to stop feeling self-conscious and have the confidence in order to be successful. His natural charisma suggests that he could go far if given the right opportunity.

One Track Heart: Story of Krishna Das, Director Jeremy Frindel

Monday, 12PM

One Track Heart: Story of Krishna Das is a 2012 documentary about a young musician named Jeffrey Kagel in the 1970s, who walked away from the American dream of rock ’n’ roll stardom by turning down the lead singer slot in the band that would become Blue Oyster Cult. He sold all his possessions and moved from the suburbs of Long Island to the foothills of the Himalayas in search of happiness and a little-known saint named Neem Karoli Baba. The Story of Krishna Das follows Jeffrey Kagel’s journey to India and back, his struggles with depression and drug abuse, and his eventual emergence as Krishna Das—the world-renowned spiritual teacher, chant master and Grammy-nominated recording artist. Krishna Das is one of the most popular singers of Indian devotional music in the world. Layering traditional Hindu kirtan with instantly accessible melodies and modern instrumentation, this musicial genius has been called yoga’s “rock star.” This film reveals remarkably soulful voice that touches the deepest chord in even the most casual listener, and has taken the call-and-response chanting out of yoga centers and into concert halls, becoming a worldwide icon and the best-selling chant artist of all time.




Meet the 2014 Festival Poster Designer

Northwest Folklife is thrilled to have The Art Dept. create our design for the 2014 Folklife branding and poster! The Art Dept. is a charming mom and pop boutique creative firm — melding love, attention to detail and pure art into their finished eye candy masterpieces: just take a look at the 2014 festival poster for proof! Helmed by two artists Peter and Sarah Berkley, The Art Dept. offers clients a wealth of creative services, from design to photography, filmmaking and the written word.

The Festival is honored to be working with this marvelous talented duo again! We wanted to continue our amazing friendship with The Art Dept. after they created a stunning poster for this year’s Winter Fireside Party! We’re grateful for the extreme amount of beauty and dedication The Art Dept. has created for this year’s festivities.