Musings on folk, Americana, country, bluegrass and newgrass

Native Rhiannon Giddens among headliners of 75th National Folk Festival in Greensboro, N.C., on Sept. 11-13

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The National Folk Festival will celebrate its 75th anniversary by featuring some 300 artists — musicians, dancers, puppeteers, storytellers, potters, and craftspeople — on seven outdoor stages throughout downtown Greensboro from Sept. 11–13, 2015. Best of all, the three-day festival is FREE to the public.

“The richness and variety of American culture never ceases to amaze. The National Folk Festival brings together all of these astonishing artists—who represent so many different facets of our nation’s cultural landscape—in one place. Each one of them is a national treasure. And there’s more to come. It’s going to be a very special 75th-anniversary year,” said Julia Olin, executive director of the National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA), which is co-producing the Festival with ArtsGreensboro, in a release.

Among the scheduled headliners are Rhiannon Giddens, most recently of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, and country legend Texan Dale Watson.

Giddens, who falls into the categories of African-American string band and gospel, will be returning to her hometown to explore traditional music. Best known as the Grammy-award winning Carolina Chocolate Drops frontwoman, Giddens recently released her first solo album, “Tomorrow Is My Turn,” to critical acclaim. The Carolina Chocolate Drops 2010 album, “Genuine Negro Jig,” earned the group a Grammy for Best Traditional Folk Album.

Watson, a true son of the Texas musical outlaw tradition, is king of uncompromising deep country and honky tonk.

Other artists announced so far include Aurelio, Frank London’s Klezmer Brass Allstars, Henry Butler & Jambalaya, Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers, Grand Master Seiichi Tanaka & the San Francisco Taiko Doko, Pine Leaf Boys, Rahim AlHaj, Sheila Kay Adams, Maggie Ingram & the Ingramettes, and Thomas Maupin, Daniel Rothwell & Overall Creek with Kory Posey, among others.

According to the release, more than 40 people of different backgrounds—and with a deep knowledge of traditional music and art forms—came together from across North Carolina to serve as the local Festival Programming Advisory Committee. “The local Programming Advisory Committee gave us great insights into the Triad and North Carolina cultural communities,” Olin continued. “Their thoughtful input was an invaluable addition to the Festival programming process.”

Tom Philion, president and CEO of ArtsGreensboro, said, “This second group of performers further highlights how diverse and exciting the Festival’s programming will be. We’re thrilled that these artists, who are the true keepers of their unique musical, artistic, and cultural traditions, will be celebrating the National Folk Festival’s 75th anniversary in Greensboro—the Festival’s first time ever in North Carolina.”

“The Festival is free to the public, thanks to the support of sponsors, foundations, the City of Greensboro, and so many others who are helping to make this one of the largest events of its kind in North Carolina,” Philion added.

Acts announced earlier include:

  • Marquise Knoxblues: Channeling the power of old-school masters, this prodigiously talented 24-year-old is the future of the blues.
  • Los Tres Reyestrío romántico: The gorgeous harmonies and dazzling guitar work of a beloved Latin style are honed to perfection by this celebrated trio.
  • Mythili Prakash Dance EnsembleBharata Natyam: A rising international star, this young Indian American dancer is a master of a 3,000-year-old South Indian tradition.
  • The Dardanellestraditional music of Newfoundland: Young keepers of jigs, reels, and seafaring ballads, this group performs with the energy of a punk band.
  • Babá Ken Okulolo & the West African Highlife Bandhighlife: Acclaimed Nigerian bassist Babá Ken and his all stars deliver the irresistibly danceable sounds of classic highlife.
  • Yuqin Wang & Zhengli XuChinese rod puppetry: Masters of an ancient tradition with strikingly lifelike puppets that have fascinated audiences for millennia.

More performers will be announced over the next month. Visit the National Folk Festival website often for updates and information on all the performers.

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