Diverse music always has been a hallmark of the Takoma Park Folk Festival, and it’s especially true this year, when a big-tent approach has been taken to the term “folk music.”
Listeners at the festival’s six stages will enjoy contemporary and traditional American folk, blues and bluegrass, ranging from personal and political songs by singer-songwriters to louder and more percussive shows by bands. Visitors also can enjoy music from Greece, Peru, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe and China. More than a third of the 40-plus performances will be new to the festival—an unusually high ratio, according to Program Chair Debby St. Charles—and their influences include R&B, electronic music, rap, jazz and much more.
The festival will be held on Sunday, September 10, at Takoma Park Middle School on Piney Branch Road. It’s free, and performances will start at 11 a.m. (preceded at 10:30 a.m. by songs from the DC Labor Chorus), and the festival will end at 6:30 p.m. An extensive crafts show and sale, food vendors, community tables and kids’ activities will round out the event.
Along with introducing many new faces to the Takoma Park audience this year, the festival is giving the singers and musicians room to show the full extent of their talents, says St. Charles. Each performance will be 40-45 minutes, rather than a mix of shorter time slots and shared stages that has been common in recent years.
One thing that will be familiar to long-time festival visitors is a deep and broad selection of singer-songwriters. They include Jay Byrd, Flo Anito, Steven Cutts, Brad Engler, Drew Gibson, Susanna Laird, Miles Gannett, Grace Heinlein, Deidra Love, Lydia Silvia Martin, Cameron Mae, Potecasi Slade, and Peter and Steve Jones.
Meanwhile, visitors looking for bands can choose from country to Americana to labor and protest songs, as well as groups bringing blues, rock and swing into the mix. Bands include American Nomad, Callithump, Crooked Sparrow, Havin’ Fun, Rock Creek Ramblers, Tornado Rose, and Joe Uehlein and the U-Liners.
Bands representing non-U.S. traditions include Grupo Rompe Cajon (Peruvian percussion), Karpouzi Trio (Greek), Mrs. Toretsky’s Nightmare (klezmer), Nordensong (Scandinavian and Celtic), Slaveya (Eastern Europe), Petrichord (music from Cape Breton, Canada), and the Washington Qinqiang Opera Club (China).
And for those who love virtuoso instrumentalists, performers such as guitarist Nelson Cade III and fiddler Marcy Cochran will be must-see shows.
Parking near the festival site is limited, and the organizers encourage people to walk or to park at Montgomery College or the Takoma Metro and take the free shuttles that will run all day. For more information, go to the festival’s website.
TPFF Graphic. Photos courtesy of Karpouzi Trio, Crooked Sparrow & Nelson Cade III