What to See at Folklife #144: The Seattle Modern Quilt Guild

(Many thanks to Chandra Wu for this guest post! The full schedule for the 2013 Northwest Folklife Festival will be available at www.nwfolklife.org/festival/schedule beginning May 1.)

Quilt by Katie Pedersen, photo by Rendy Tucker.

The Seattle Modern Quilt Guild is delighted to share some of its members quilts this year at Folklife.  This opportunity came together very quickly, kind of like our Quilt Guild, which began in the blogging community about 3-4 years ago.  One of our members, Charlotte Clark-Mahoney, has displayed her quilts at Intiman during Folklife for several years, where her notorious tie-dyed quilt has drawn a lot of interest and delighted quilt-lovers. She thought it might be fun to add more quilts to the space this year. Who doesn’t think any space looks better with a handcrafted quilt in it? Not us! We are happy to be invited to display at Folklife and we look forward to sharing some of our work with Folklife attendees.

The Seattle Modern Quilt Guild is part of a national movement in “modern” quilting that while very challenging to define, seems to represent a new generation of quilters that are connected through social media and dialoguing with one another about the relationship between this historic women’s utilitarian craft and the modern DIY art and craft movement. Perhaps modern quilters are exploring the context of their craft more publicly than previous generations of quilters due to the exposure of the internet and mobile technology. We see a lot of modern quilts influenced by modern or abstract design influences, architecture, text and minimalist graphic design.  Some modern quilts are utilizing traditional patterns using modern palettes and graphic prints, while others are conversing with traditional quilt patterns either through reinterpretation or improvisation. The Seattle Modern Quilt Guild had its first show at Island Quilter on Vashon Island last summer, and we will be returning there to exhibit quilts from our guild’s star challenge this June.

Quilt by Becca Jubie at 2012 SMQG show, photo by Louise Wackerman.

Modern quilts appear photographed on personal blogs, Flickr, Instagram or Pinterest, where other quilters and quilt enthusiasts can view them and share their thoughts and impressions with each other. If you wish to become more versed in the folk history and craft of quiltmaking, and its new modern directions, check out the Seattle Modern Quilt Guild blog and the members links on the sidebar, or check out the national Modern Quilt Guild and its member bloggers, or the various flickr groups associated with modern quilts. And if you do link to anyone’s work or become inspired by it, try to share the original inspiration and attribute the original artist or sewist, we love the acknowledgement!

Share your impression and ideas about modernity in the American quilt, using the #seattlemqg hashtag on instagram and/or tweet us @SeattleMQG, and tell us what you think so far. We hope that viewers can contemplate the relationship between our quilts and the quilts that they are already familiar with. We don’t really know what it means to call ourselves modern but we understand why the distinction is being made: just struggling to define what it is can lead to some pretty interesting conversation about modern craft and modern art. Creating new works that stem from this new discussion seems to be the closest I can come to describing what I see in modern quilts and those who sew them. Defining the modern quilting movement is a task that no one involved in it feels entirely qualified or comfortable doing, and I am no exception. Please forgive my attempt to share the importance of it with you while attempting to avoid labels that might marginalize or exclude some of the amazing contributions to modern quilting, and just come see for yourself!

The Seattle Modern Quilt Guild meets regularly and also organizes regular group “sew-ins” for socializing and discussing works in progress.  Check us out at http://seattlemodernquiltguild.com/ and if you start “following” any of our members, let us know you found us at Seattle’s Folklife!

Quilts will be on display throughout the Folklife weekend in the Intiman Courtyard.


Chandra Wu is the Vice President of Programs for the Seattle Modern Quilt Guild.  She is a former member of the Vancouver Modern Quilt Guild and began producing quilts when she was expecting her first child in 2001.

Your Question Answered: Is Folklife Free?

Sometimes it can just be too good to be true, so you have to double-check.

Laura asks, “Is Folklife free?”

Yes, the Northwest Folklife Festival is free to the public!

Wait, how is this possible?

It is Folklife’s mission to provide opportunities for everyone to celebrate and participate in the arts & traditions of the Northwest. However, in order to keep the Festival free for future generations, we suggest a donation of $10 per person per day (or $20 for family/groups). You can also become a Friend of Folklife and receive special benefits and free goodies.

Help us keep the tradition alive by doing your part and donating what you can! Click here to contribute now.

Do you have a question for Northwest Folklife? Submit it here!
Read other submitted questions here

What to See at Folklife #125: American Standard Time Showcase

Some of the best names in roots music (and gospel!) will be hitting the stage during the Indie Roots American Standard Time Show, hosted by KEXP’s Roadhouse radio host Greg VandyThe Slide Brothers, The Sumner Brothers, Crow Quill Night Owls and The Sojourners! The show takes place Monday, May 27th on the Fisher Green Stage, from 4:00-7:00pm.

Tune in tonight (Wednesday, April 24) to hear The Sumner Brothers live on Greg’s show, The Roadhouse, on 90.3FM in the Seattle area.

Then come see The Sumner Brothers, Country Lips, and Ole Tinder on Friday, April 26 at the Pre-Festival Party at the Tractor Tavern in Ballard!

Country Lips and Ole Tinder will join Ganges River Band and Annie Ford Band at the Festival on Sunday, May 26th on  the Fountain Lawn Stage from 6:30 – 9:00 PM as part of the Giddy Up! Country Roots Showcase.

The Sumner Brothers

The American Standard Time showcase is sponsored by alt-county authority No Depression. The complete Indie Roots lineup is brought to you by BECU.

Northwest Folklife Renews Its Partnership with Seattle Center

Northwest Folklife is proud to announce that the organization has renewed its agreement with Seattle Center for another six years. The Seattle City Council voted on Monday, April 22, 2013 to approve the partnership between the nonprofit Northwest Folklife and Seattle Center, an arts, civic and family gathering place that is administered by the City of Seattle.

This six-year agreement is a continuation of an over 40-year long relationship between Seattle Center and Northwest Folklife. The agreement ensures both the presentation of the iconic Northwest Folklife Festival in the center of the city and Seattle Center as the home base for the organization through 2018.

Says Northwest Folklife Executive Director Robert Townsend, “We thank the City for this agreement. It continues the gift of the annual Festival to the people of Seattle and the region for years to come.  Seattle Center has been our presenting partner since the first Festival in 1972, and we look forward to many more years of collaboration and association.”

The combination of City support, voluntary donations from festival attendees, other donations and sponsorships obtained by Northwest Folklife, the work of hundreds of volunteers, and thousands of performers performing for free allow the annual Northwest Folklife Festival to be presented to the public free of charge.

“I am very pleased with Council approval today of the City’s agreement with Northwest Folklife, and I look forward to continuing our partnership in the years ahead. This annual Festival brings together our diverse community in joyful, interactive and highly harmonious ways—and represents the very best in the region’s collective creativity and cultural depth,” says Seattle Center Director Robert Nellams.

Northwest Folklife, in partnership with Seattle Center, will present the 42nd annual Northwest Folklife Festival this May 24-27. The Festival is a celebration of the art and traditions of the region, and provides opportunities for all to enjoy and participate in dance, live music, workshops, storytelling, hands-on family activities and more. More information is available at www.nwfolklife.org.

Giddy Up! Folklife Pre-Festival Party is April 26

Giddy Up!: Folklife Pre-Festival Party

Join us for a boot-stompin’ good time for all you urban cowboys! These country-tinged bands are sure to get you swinging and excited for the Northwest Folklife Festival (May 24-27).  Be the first to have a peek at the Festival schedule!

With music by:

Country Lips
Ole Tinder
The Sumner Brothers

Friday, April 26th at the Tractor Tavern
Doors at 8PM, $10


Subversive Square Dance at 8:30!
Charmaine Slaven and Gabe Strand callers, music by Porterbelly Band

Purchase tickets now>

Sponsored by The Seattle WeeklyKBCS 91.3FM and American Standard Time

Seattle’s Cherry Blossom Festival–Off to Set a New World Record

One of Seattle’s most beloved traditions, the Seattle Cherry Blossom Festival never fails to delight. And with highlights this year that include mathematical oddities, a record-breaking battle between an abacus and a super computer, and an underwater singer, this year sounds like it will be something special! See the full release below for more details.

Seattle Cherry Blossom & Japanese Cultural Festival

Focuses on Numbers, Underwater Photgraphy, Japanese Foods and More


Seattle Center Festál presents Seattle Cherry Blossom & Japanese Cultural Festival, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., April 26 – 28, in Seattle Center Armory, Fisher Pavilion and Seattle Center Pavilion. Explore and experience the cultural roots and contemporary influences of Japan through live performances, visual arts, hands-on activities, foods,  games, and a lively marketplace.

The 38th annual Cherry Blossom & Japanese Cultural Festival focuses on the theme of Numbers. Did you know that the name Google was adopted from the word Googol, which signifies the number digit one followed by 100 zeros? Do you know how many zeros a Nivenonagintillion contains? The Festival delves into these and other numeric fascinations. It also will attempt to create a new Guinness World Record involving a challenge between a Japanese Abacus device called Soroban and the Super Computer.

Additional Festival highlights:

  • TOHOKU Through the  Eyes of Japanese photography exhibit, sponsored by Japan Foundation;
  • U.S. premiere – Aquaphoto Concert by underwater photographer-singer, Hiroshi Takano of Osaka, Japan, sponsored by Japan Foundation;
  • Dance and music by the Nago Minori troupe of Okinawa, Japan;
  • Over 60 traditional arts and crafts;
  • Over 30 traditional performing arts / martial arts including Taiko Drummers;
  • Many child oriented hands-on activities including The Kid’s Passport;
  • Japanese foods including:  curry-rice (Japanese style curry), Takoyaki (octopus dumplings), Gyudon (beef bowl), Japanese hot dog, Bento-Box, Manju sweets and gourmet cookies;
  • Updates on the 2011 Erthquake/Tsunami recovery.


The Festival was founded in appreciation of 1,000 cherry trees gifted to Seattle by Prime Minister Takeo Miki on behalf of the Japanese government in commemoration of the nation’s bicentennial. It is the first ethnic festival to be held at Seattle Center annually and the oldest in the Seattle Center Festál series.

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

Seattle Cherry Blossom & Japanese Cultural Festival is produced in partnership with Seattle Cherry Blossom & Japanese Cultural Festival Committee. For more information on the Festival, the Festal series and other public events at Seattle Center, visit www.seattlecenter.com or call 206 684-7200.


About Seattle Center Festál

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

We Love Our Volunteers!

It’s National Volunteer Week and we would like to take a moment to thank all our amazing volunteers! It takes over 800 volunteers to help us put on the Northwest Folklife Festival and believe me when I say, WE COULDN’T DO IT WITHOUT YOU! When asked why our volunteers want to be a part of Northwest Folklife, I was overwhelmed by the endless dedication, passion and ongoing enthusiasm our volunteers have for our organization. It’s clear that our volunteers are part of what makes our Festival so unique and the crown jewel of our region.


Here are a handful of my favorite responses:

“To me Folklife represents freedom of culture and freedom of being and this is why I attend and donate every year. I want to be a Folklife volunteer because I want to help represent Folklife and be an even bigger part of it than just an attendee. I want to submerge myself in people that are different and interesting and that’s what Folklife is. I would love the opportunity to spend time at Folklife not only as an attendee but also as a volunteer because I would be very proud to say that I was part of what makes Folklife so amazing.” Michaelle Machuca, 1st year volunteering.

“I love music, Folklife, and all that it stands for; people coming together to for community and music.” Kaelin Carson, 2nd year volunteering.

“I love Northwest Folklife so much!!!  It is one of the reasons why I am so proud to be from Seattle.  A festival like this is very rare so I am very happy to do my part to keep it going!” Max Gordon, 3rd year volunteering.

“I love Folklife!!  The energy, the diversity, the idea that Seattle – as a community – comes together and throws a huge party to which all are invited!  I really enjoy being a part of what makes it successful for everyone!” Tressa Johnson, 5th year volunteering.

“To help share the music and history.” Tom Lockhart, 10th year volunteering.

“My wife and I were married at Folklife and have volunteered every year since then–19 years!” Mark Weber, 19th year volunteering.

“It’s the only event I know that showcases the music, culture and art of diverse cultures, and I like that it’s a grass roots effort.” Trisha Tubbs, volunteering 20+ years.

Many of our volunteers have been a part of our organization for 20, 30, even 40 years and we are proud to have such dedicated individuals be a part of what we do. Whether you help us with preparation in the office, greet Festival participants, assist with registration or deliver coffee to vendors, you are a crucial part of our organization and are greatly treasured. Thank you.

For more information on volunteering, please visit our Festival Volunteer Page or email christinah@nwfolklife.org.


About the author: Christina Halverson is the Volunteer Coordinator for Northwest Folklife. “I am excited to be back at Folklife for another Festival devoted to celebrating arts and culture! In my spare time, I love adventuring, crafting and gardening!”



What to See at Folklife #197: A Little Louisiana in the Great Northwest

(Thanks to guest blogger MaryLee Lykes for this post! You can see the full schedule for the 2013 Northwest Folklife Festival online at www.nwfolklife.org/festival beginning May 1.) 

Swamp Soul

Cajun & Zydeco of the Pacific Northwesst

Seattle is home to strong and vibrant Cajun and Zydeco communities that regularly gather to dance, play music and celebrate Louisiana culture.

Cajun and Zydeco music and dance originated in Southwest Louisiana and are popular there still, in addition to having an enthusiastic following throughout the U.S.

Cajun was introduced to the Seattle area by Dewey Balfa while performing at Port Townsend’s Fiddle Tunes. Local musicians Dave Lang, Karen England and Mike Bristow heard Dewey and his band and fell in love with Cajun music, soon after forming our first area Cajun band, “How’s Bayou,”  in 1978. Today there are some eight Cajun bands playing throughout the Seattle Area.

Zydeco hit the Northwest scene around 1985 when Laura Taylor and Richard Smallwood and Living Traditions began teaching Zydeco dance and bringing Louisiana bands to Seattle. Seattle’s first local Zydeco band was “Captain Leroy & the Culture Pirates” (later “Captain Leroy & the Zydeco Locals”).

Opportunities abound in Seattle for participating in Cajun and Zydeco dance classes, dances, music jams. Many celebratory gatherings feature Louisiana music, dancing, and food.

Our community is excited to have 3 shows at Folklife 2013:
Friday Roadhouse 8:00-10:00pm with Whozyamama & Swamp Soul; Sunday Roadhouse 3:00-5:00pm with Troupeau Acadien & Folichon; Monday Armory 11:00am-1:00pm with New Iberians & Richard Allen and the Louisiana Experience. Mini Dance Lesson between sets in Zydeco & Cajun taught by MaryLee Lykes.

There will be a Zydeco dance workshop in Rainier Room on Saturday from 12:00-12:50pm taught by MaryLee Lykes.

This year we are pleased to also have a Cajun Jam Session on the Boeing Green on Saturday, May 25, 4:00pm to 5:00pm.


Marylee Lykes is the owner/director of Lykes To Dance.

MaryLee began teaching dance in Seattle 17 years ago and hasn’t stopped since! Her dancing expertise includes: Swing, Waltz, Ballroom Foxtrot, One Step, Blues, Zydeco, Cajun, and Western Swing and Two Step.

MaryLee co-founded the Swing and Lindy Hop dance instruction organization Swing Girls with Hallie Kupperman in 1992, taught for Living Traditions, and founded her own dance instruction business, Lykes to Dance, in 1998. She teaches extensively on a local, national, and international level. She offers both group and individual instruction for those with or without dance partners.

What to See at Folklife #135: Fin Records Showcase

(Special thanks to guest blogger Christine Geronimo from Fin Records! Stay tuned for more sneak peeks at the 2013 Northwest Folklife Festival schedule. Full schedule is live on our website beginning May 1, or you can get an exclusive look at our Pre-Festival Party on April 26.)

Fin Records is an independent record label based in Ballard. Most record labels specialize in a specific kind of music or certain types of artists. Not at Fin Records. What our artists have in common is a commitment to the independence of their expression.

We’re really just interested in treating artists with respect, being transparent with them in the business dealings, and giving them complete creative control. So, if we like the music, we’ll put it out there for the world to hear. We also take pride in our commitment to high-quality packaging and work with every artist closely in designing each project.

Almost one year ago, Fin Records hosted the first in a series of four themed musical events for the Next 50 celebration. It was an experiment in combining a panel discussion about music with performances by emergent Northwest artists. Kelli Faryar, Programs Director of Northwest Folklife, was a panelist for our Acoustic music event. We later connected about another potential collaboration, which turned into the Fin Records showcase and panel at this year’s Folklife Festival.

As Events Manager of a young local label, I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in this Northwest tradition. It is extremely exciting to be a part of one of the largest free folk festivals in the nation. Four bands will be representing Fin Records: Lures, Low Hums, Davidson Hart Kingsbery, and Red Jacket Mine. Our showcase takes place on Friday, May 24 from 6-9pm on the Fountain Lawn Stage, so we’d love to see you there!

RSVP on Facebook!

Christine Geronimo
Events Manager – Fin Records


What to See at Folklife #78: Hot Pickin’ & Harmonies Bluegrass Showcase

(Thanks to Trisha Tubbs for this special guest blog post! The full schedule for the 2013 Northwest Folklife Festival will be available at nwfolklife.org/festival beginning May 1)

Hot Acoustic Roots Music from the Exciting World of Bluegrass!!

Sponsored by TheSunBreak.com

Saturday May 25, 2013
1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Xfinity Mural Amphitheatre Stage

Pickled Okra

Experience virtuoso musicianship, hard-driving music that will get your heart pounding and hands clapping, and soaring tight vocal harmonies at this special concert featuring some of the top bluegrass bands in the Pacific Northwest.

Born in the U.S. in the 1940’s, bluegrass music has its roots in Celtic, Anglo-European, African, Gospel/Spiritual, and Old-Time Country music.  It has been strongly influenced by Jazz, Blues, Folk, Pop, and Rock, but it has been so influential that it can also be heard in the music of popular artists such as Elvis Presley, The Grateful Dead, Yo-Yo Ma, Yonder Mountain String Band, Alison Krauss and Union Station with Jerry Douglas, Mumford and Sons, The Avett Brothers, and Steve Martin and The Steep Canyon Rangers.

Bluegrass music’s popularity spans the globe, with concerts, festivals, music camps and jams taking place throughout the world in elite performing arts venues such as the Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall to open fields (with festivals such as the acclaimed Telluride Music Festival in Colorado and the Grey Fox Music Festival in New York) to indoor festivals in hotels (such as the award-winning Wintergrass Music Festival in Bellevue, Washington).

Bluegrass concerts, festivals, music camps, youth academies, workshops and jams take place all year in the Pacific Northwest; in fact, you’ll find at least one or two camping festivals every weekend during the summer, many in beautiful settings.

One fabulous aspect about bluegrass is its amazing community:  People of all ages, religions, diverse backgrounds and skill levels, sharing a common bond of loving and playing bluegrass music together.

The four bands in this concert, Pearly Blue, The Weavils, Pickled Okra, and Badger Pocket all approach bluegrass differently, but in equally wonderful ways.  You’ll have a great time exploring a wide-range of “flavors” from the world of bluegrass music, and will see some hot young musicians, seasoned professionals, musicians from multiple generations and fun-loving entertainers.


1:00 – 1:05 p.m.            Intro – Trisha Tubbs (emcee)

1:05 – 1:35 p.m.            Pearly Blue

1:50 – 2:20 p.m.            The Weavils

2:35 – 3:05 p.m.            Pickled Okra

3:20 – 3:50 p.m.            Badger Pocket

3:50 – 4:00 p.m.            Grand Finale  (all bands on stage)


About Trisha

From Snoqualmie, Washington, Trisha Tubbs is a long-time volunteer at Northwest Folklife and has produced the Bluegrass Showcase concert at Northwest Folklife for over 15 years.

She is very active in the International Bluegrass Music Association (headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee) where she has served on numerous committees, has been on the planning committee for IBMA’s acclaimed Leadership Bluegrass program for over 10 years, and co-produced IBMA’s Annual Awards Show in 2010 at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee, which included performances by Allison Krauss and Union Station, and Dierks Bentley.

She is a board member of Acoustic Sound (producers of the award-winning Wintergrass Music Festival in Bellevue, Washington) and was responsible for the stage managers and backstage crew for the main stages at Wintergrass for many years. She currently co-produces the Wintergrass Bluegrass in the Schools workshops for teachers and is a core member of the Wintergrass Education Committee.

She produces two or three bluegrass concerts/events a year, and is an experienced producer, publicist, stage manager and announcer.  She also has more than 15 years experience managing and promoting bluegrass bands in Pennsylvania and Washington.  In addition, she writes bluegrass related articles and has been published in Bluegrass Unlimited, IBMA’s newsletter,  and the Washington Bluegrass Association’s newsletter.


Your Question Answered: Is the Festival Going to be 21+?

Families at the 2012 Folklife Festival — photo by Piper Hanson.

Wow! Here is a question we’ve never gotten before:

I’ve heard that you’re going to make Folklife a 21 or older event. Is this true?

It is not true! I’m not sure where this rumor started, but the Northwest Folklife Festival will always be all-ages, and open to everyone! And it will always be FREE!

Do you have a question for Northwest Folklife? Submit it here!
Read other submitted questions here.