What to See at Folklife #3: Washington Works

In honor of May Day, the globally recognized International Workers’ Day, today we are highlighting the 2013 Northwest Folklife Festival’s Cultural Focus, or theme.

This year, Northwest Folklife is celebrating work. Washington Works is a multimedia program that features panel discussions, special presentations, demonstrations, film screenings, storytelling, sing-a-longs and more, all on the topic of working. The program is part of a year-long project that explores labor culture and history in the Northwest.

“Washington Works” is also the culminating event of MayWorks, an annual month-long celebration of workers’ culture and history first organized in 2012 by Washington’s labor movement. A full listing of MayWorks activities in the weeks leading up to the Festival can be found at http://www.facebook.com/mayworkswa.

For many of us, our work not only pays the bills, it gives meaning to our lives. Washington Works explores the ways people in our state make a living, with a special emphasis on union jobs.  This region has a long history of labor organizing, and Washington has one of the largest union workforces in the country.

Festivalgoers will have the opportunity to learn more about other people’s jobs through panels and presentations on the Narrative Stage at SIFF Cinema (sponsored by KUOW 94.9FM), at art exhibits in the Lopez Room, during demonstrations and storytelling sessions in the Olympic Room, and in the discussions and exchanges taking place throughout the weekend.

Josie Dunn and friend — two of Washington’s “Rosie the Riveters.” Photo courtesy of Washington Women in Trades.

Highlights of the schedule include a presentation by Seattle Public Librarians that features their favorite fiction and nonfiction works about labor on Friday, May 24 at 2pm; a bed-making contest with members of Unite Here 8 first showing us the way it’s done in the hotel industry on Saturday, May 26, at 2pm; a panel on Sunday, May 26 at 2pm, made up of some of Washington’s “Rosie the Riveters,” women who who stepped up to work traditionally male jobs such as shipbuilding during WWII; stories told by IBEW 77’s linemen about working in winter storms to get the electricity back on on Sunday, May 26 at 3:30 pm; an exhibit of the work of New Deal printmaker Richard V. Correll on display in the Lopez Room all weekend; and even stories from two local ministers and a rabbi about the “work” of being  a clergyman or woman on Monday, May 27 at 2:00 pm.

More details and a schedule of “Washington Works” programming can be found at https://www.nwfolklife.org/festival/cultural-focus/2013-cultural-focus-washington-works/.

Folklife will continue the Washington Works program after the Festival concludes by collecting oral histories from union workers across the state and producing a series of video documentaries series about the project with filmmaker Doug Plummer.

Northwest Folklife is working with the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, the Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies at the University of Washington, and other labor history groups to present a variety of programs as part of “Washington Works.”

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

Irish Super-Group Dervish & Free Community Events in March

Folklife is excited to be a partner in presenting these events with STG!
Join us to celebrate the music and dance of Ireland this March at the Neptune Theatre. Performances, master classes, a ceili, and more.

Seattle Theatre Group (STG) is presenting one of Ireland’s most renowned Irish music super-groups, Dervish at the Neptune Theatre (Mar 16), with opening performance by Mary Jane Lamond and Wendy MacIsaac, masters of the Cape Breton tradition. This show will be one of the biggest Celtic music events of the year in Seattle. In the week prior to the show, STG is offering education and community events in Irish music/dance at the Neptune, in partnership with a host of local Irish organizations.


w/ special guests, Mary Jane Lamond and Wendy MacIsaac

Sat, March 16, 2013

The Neptune Theatre (1303 NE 45th St)

Doors 7pm, Show 8pm, 21+, $30 (excl fees)

Tickets & Info



All events at The Neptune Theatre (1303 NE 45th St, University District)
All education and community events FREE and open to the public


Monday, March 11

6:00-8:00pm: Carrigaline Céili w/ Seattle Irish Dance Company

For people of all ages and families. Beginner & advanced dancers welcome 

RSVP Required: Please RSVP to Claire Connell – clairec@stgpresents.org

Join us for an Irish Céili (community dance) at the Neptune Theatre led by Irish music group, Carrigaline and the Seattle Irish Dancers. Fun and lively Irish dancing for all the family – bring good shoes (leather soles best). A safe place for families to experience authentic Irish culture and pass it along to their children. Free instruction in the basics of Irish céili dance. Great music and an opportunity to meet other Irish people in your community.


Tuesday, March 12

5:30-6:30pm: Uilleann Pipes Talk & Performance by The Irish Piper’s Club

For people of all ages 

RSVP Required: Please RSVP to Claire Connell – clairec@stgpresents.org

The Irish Piper’s Club will lead a talk on one of Ireland’s oldest and most unique instruments, the uilleann pipes. Includes a short performance by the Irish Piper’s Club, Q&A and an opportunity to try out the uilleann pipes.


6:30-7:30pm: Fiddle Master Class with Dale Russ

Inter-Adv, age 15+

RSVP Required: Please RSVP to Claire Connell – clairec@stgpresents.org

Renowned fiddler, Dale Russ will offer an Irish fiddle master class for intermediate-advanced students, ages 15 and up.


Saturday, March 16

Irish Song Master Class with Cathy Jordan of Dervish

Exact time TBD (Please keep 12-3pm open, duration 60 mins)

Inter-Adv, age 15+

RSVP Required: Please RSVP to Claire Connell – clairec@stgpresents.org 

We are thrilled that lead singer of Dervish and internationally renowned Irish vocalist, Cathy Jordan, will offer a master class to intermediate-advanced vocalists, ages 15+.



Bands on the Big Screen

We are super excited to partner with Team Up For Nonprofits to present this great night of local talent!

On January 31st, Team Up for Nonprofits presents “Bands on the Big Screen” a benefit screening for Northwest Folklife dedicated to showcasing the talents of five local filmmakers working with local music.

Directors Jon Jon Augustavo, Brad Curran, Hayley Young, Stephan Gray and Tyler Kalberg will present music videos by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Pickwick, Allen Stone, Dark Time Sunshine, Kaylee Cole and many more.   The 90 minute screening will be followed by an audience Q&A with the directors.

Thursday, January 31 @ 7:00

$15.00 for all seats (no discounts)


SIFF Cinema Uptown

Team Up for Nonprofits – www.teamupfornonprofits.org

Northwest Folklife – www.nwfolklife.org

SIFF – www.siff.net


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Roots & Branches Keeps the Tradition Alive

Folklife is all about traditions: creating new ones and appreciating the older ones. That’s why I’m so pleased to be a part of the Roots & Branches CD series. It continues a long tradition of sharing music with the public, but has evolved over the years to include emerging artists in a wide variety of musical genres (and brought to you on more convenient audio sources).

Pictured here, alongside the latest Roots & Branches compilation, is a Folklife recording on an LP from 1977. Like Roots & Branches Volume 4, only 1,000 copies were made, and just like today, all sales benefitted the Festival.

The 1977 recordings were made in partnership with KRAB radio, a much-loved community radio station whose tradition is kept alive today by Jack Straw Productions. You can click on the image at right to see a larger image of the track listing.

Though much has changed in terms of audio recording technology and album releasing, the heart of Folklife recordings remain the same. And the liner notes are just as true today as they were in 1977:

“Begun in 1972 as a prototype for regional folk festivals around the United States, [Northwest Folklife Festival] presents people ‘doing what they do to entertain themselves , and making things for their own use.’ It is unique as a grass-roots, all-volunteer festival, put on and for the everyday folks who appear in it, and s the largest event of its kind in the country. The Folklife Festival demonstrates that the traditional arts are for all people regardless of age or background, are non-commercial, and in their normal context are practiced in the home and community.”

This is your Folklife. Be a part of it by purchasing your copy of Roots & Branches Volume 4: Live From the 2012 Festival here>

–Kelli Faryar, Programs Manager research paper on nelson mandela

Stealing My Musical Heart

Special thanks to guest blogger Clay Eals, who will be hosting a special tribute to Steve Goodman at the Historic Admiral Theatre on October 14, kicking off our “Nights for Folklife” series of benefit events.

Unfailing warmth, gentle humor and personal resilience in the face of social and political ills undergird the legacy of Steve Goodman

By Clay Eals

For a singer/songwriter, legacy emerges and endures in two visceral forms:

1. Indelible performances that glow in the collective memory.

2. Compositions whose lyrics and melodies ring timelessly through the ages.

In both ways, Pete Seeger and Steve Goodman have carved unassailable places in musical history. I am thrilled to help connect their music once again with Seattle audiences as part of “Tribute Times Two: Anthems of Activism.” It’s a unique and extraordinary pair of concerts on Sunday, Oct. 14, 2012, at the Historic Admiral Theater in West Seattle. It’s also the kickoff for the fall 2012 “Nights for Folklife” series, and a portion of proceeds will go to Northwest Folklife.

Presenting the Seeger tribute at 4 p.m. is Peter McKee, a singer and banjo/guitar player whom I befriended when he and his folk group Clallam County became part of Seattle’s celebration of Seeger’s 90th birthday three years ago at the Admiral. His one-man, multimedia show weaves together an impressive selection of recordings, images and live performances that reveal the breadth and depth of the legendary humanitarian who at age 93 continues to inspire and cheer us all with his commitment to peace, justice and environmental sustainability.

The evening show at 7 p.m. focuses on the music and story of Goodman, who proudly considered himself one of Seeger’s disciples. Goodman wrote and performed more than 100 songs – and hundreds of songs written by others – for audiences from the tens to the tens of thousands throughout the United States and Europe during a 15-year career before leukemia ended his life here in Seattle in 1984 at age 36.

For the evening show, I will emcee and take part in performances of a rich sampling of Goodman songs that take on a remarkably diverse array of social and political challenges – corporate greed, campaign hypocrisy, commercialism, sexual myopia, global warming, the homefront devastation of war and indifference to bedrock values – with unfailing warmth, gentle humor and personal resilience in the face of it all.

Though I saw him perform only two times, Goodman stole my musical heart, touching me like no other performer. I knew that I wasn’t alone, and a decade of research that culminated in my 800-page biography, “Steve Goodman: Facing the Music” (ECW Press, 2007) confirmed it. His songs, singing and guitar playing, not to mention hundreds of recordings, official and unofficial, combined to make him the most affecting performer I have ever experienced. This is a big part of why the book is, so far and by far, the most significant project of my life.

In 55 musical events in the past five years to promote the book (now in updated third printing), I have found musicians all over the country who know Goodman’s songs and have been eager to perform them on behalf of the book out of the goodness of their heart. In my hometown of Seattle, the stalwart of my events has been Tom Colwell, whose track record as a singer/songwriter and interpreter of others’ music spans more than 50 years. Tom will anchor the Oct. 14 Goodman show, and I am grateful beyond expression for the passion, tenderness and unrelenting life force that he brings to the quest.

Tom’s musical travels and example – including a night in 1978 when he bid Goodman to a Chicago club stage to play with him – resulted in his formation in 2009 of a nine-piece band he dubbed Tom Colwell and The Southbound Odyssey, the name stemming from a phrase in Goodman’s classic “City of New Orleans.”

Two stellar accompanists from that group who also play in other Seattle-area bands will join us on Oct. 14: Bruce Hanson, bassist and harmonica player from Bellevue, andMark Myers of Shoreline, who sings and plays dobro, steel guitar and harmonica.

The roster of musicians for the Oct. 14 show doesn’t end there, however. Reflecting the magnetism of Goodman’s legacy, the show will feature three uniquely appealing musical guests playing Goodman’s tunes:

–  Kat Eggleston, of Vashon Island, for 20 years was a fixture of the Chicago music scene that Goodman anchored and fostered. Kat, whose repertoire spans folk, Celtic and traditional music, brought an audience of 200 to a hush with her tour de force performance five years ago at one of my Goodman events at a college Goodman attended, Lake Forest College north of Chicago.

–  Dan Maher, of Pullman, for more than three decades has helmed the syndicated Inland Folk radio show and brought his encyclopedic and eclectic knowledge of music to bear in truly riveting and powerhouse stage performances. I first encountered Dan in 1991 when he took part in a panel of baseball songs at Northwest Folklife Festival. Dan, who interviewed me extensively on his radio show in 2007, covers a broad musical map, from sea shanties to pop classics.

–  Perry Barber, of New York City, who played with and befriended Goodman in the 1970s, provided invaluable contributions for the Goodman biography and has performed on behalf of the book in Manhattan, Berkeley and twice in the Seattle area. She also is a traveling professional baseball umpire, one of only a handful of women who have worked major-league games (in spring training only, because women umpires still are not allowed to work the regular season).

“Tribute Times Two” promises to be a moving and unforgettable experience, both musically and in the context of the national election three weeks hence. Icing on the cake is the venue – the Historic Admiral Theater, a 1942 art-deco moviehouse that has stood as an official Seattle landmark for 23 years. The price is right ($12 for each show, $20 combo ticket, at Brown Paper Tickets). Add in that it’s a benefit for Northwest Folklife, and it becomes a can’t-miss.

I am so fortunate to be at the core of this presentation. My heartfelt thanks go to the musicians, to Dinah Brein, who manages the Admiral, and to all of you who choose to attend. You won’t regret it. See you there!

Update on Folklife’s Partnership with the Somali Youth & Family Club, with a Video by Doug Plummer

Congratulations to the Somali Youth & Family Club for producing an amazing first showcase this past Saturday at the Creston Point Apartments in Renton!

This summer, Northwest Folklife partnered with Somali communities in King County for a special project funded by the Washington State Arts Commission. With the help of the Community Arts Engagement Mentorship Project (CAEMP)  Northwest Folklife worked with the Somali Youth & Family Club to produce two community performances of the traditional and emerging arts of Somali culture. Last Saturday night’s premier has us all on our toes for the next performance.

Please join us for the second showcase of this exciting new partnership, on November 3rd at the Carco Theatre in Renton, which will feature a theatre presentation with music and dance of the Somali culture. Subscribe to this blog or check back often for more details as the date nears!

Many thanks to filmmaker Doug Plummer for helping us document the occasion:

Somali Showcase at Creston Pt. from Doug Plummer on Vimeo.