Takoma Park Folk Festival Returns with Diverse Lineup

The Takoma Park Folk Festival will return to a live, in-person event on Sunday, Sept. 11, and festival organizers say they have the most diverse range of performance styles in the festival’s 40-plus years.

After two years of streamed events, the festival will be held at Takoma Park Middle School on Piney Branch Road, with music starting at 10 a.m. and running to 6:30 p.m.

“We’ve really tried to present a more diverse lineup…with more people who have not performed before and more styles of music,” said Debra St. Charles, chair of the Program Committee.

From roots-rockers and Americana to world music, sitar, and Chinese drumming, the festival will present something new and something familiar for all visitors. The event is free, family-friendly, and includes a large crafts show, community booths, and food vendors.

“You’re going to see a lot of people who have not performed at the festival before, but also some old favorites,” St. Charles said. “I’m excited about seeing the up-and-coming artists…they’re extremely talented.”

The festival will be running four stages concurrently, and highlights include New Orleans-style bluesman Sol Roots, award-winning singer-songwriters Jillian Matundan and Michelle Swan, and world music group Project Locrea, which won a 2022 WAMMIE.

For folks who like to dance while listening, the Field Stage will present Sol Roots, as well as youth rock band The Jokers and country-rockers Burt the Dirt. For traditionalists, Shenandoah Run, Washington Revels Maritime Voices, and No Part of Nothin’ can’t be missed.

“The talent in this region is amazing,” said Robin Stearn, festival chair. But the festival is about much more than music, she continued.

“This is an event that celebrates all of our community,” she said. “That’s why we have a crafts show of about 30 artisans, and we provide space for about 50 city and community groups. For our visitors, the Takoma Park Folk Festival is first and foremost about music and art, but it’s also a chance to see friends and make new connections.”

Visitors should keep in mind that none of the activities will be indoors this year. Reflecting an additional layer of caution during COVID-19 times, the festival will use the grounds of Takoma Park Middle School, but the school will be closed.

“We’re preparing for an all-outdoors event,” said Gordon Nimmo, who is in charge of logistics and sound engineers. “Water, shade, and other services are going to be expanded beyond what we’ve done in the past when two stages and crafts were inside.”

Changing the arrangements has been a challenge, Nimmo admitted, but it’s also opened up new possibilities. For example, crafts and community tables will be co-located on the basketball courts, which he believes will drive more traffic to both activities. “It’s refreshing to come back to what the festival has done for so many years, but also to get to rethink what we’re doing and where,” he said. “I think people will like the new setup.”

Kevin Adler is a TPFF volunteer. Michelle Swan returns to the festival after several years’ absence. Photo courtesy TPFF.

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