The Northwest Folklife Festival, presented by Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and slated for May 26-29, 2017, has just released the online schedule, available online at http://www.nwfolklife.org/schedule. As the largest community-arts powered festival in the nation, the festival features an unprecedented level of diversity, all made up of artists and performers drawn from the communities of the Pacific Northwest. The Cultural Focus for the 2017 Northwest Folklife Festival is Festál Turns 20, a celebration of 20 years of Seattle Center’s ground-breaking work with 23 cultural festivals in the city. For 46 years, the Northwest Folklife Festival has been committed to access for all, offering access to thousands of performers with no entrance fee. There is a suggested daily donation of $10 per person or $20 per family, all of which goes to supporting the festival and ensuring that the Northwest Folklife Festival can return in 2018.
Indie Roots Programming Highlights
A key part of Northwest Folklife’s mission in presenting the festival is to highlight the emerging and evolving arts of the region. Sponsored by KEXP, the Indie Roots programming at the Northwest Folklife Festival is the best way to discover new artists who are pushing the boundaries of tradition and bringing in new ideas from Seattle and the Northwest’s nationally-known indie, hip-hop, and rock scenes. Here are some highlights from the 2017 Indie Roots Programming:
American Standard Time Showcase – Friday, May 26 from 6-9pm, Fountain Lawn Stage
Curated by KEXP DJ Greg Vandy’s Americana lifestyle blog, American Standard Time, this showcase features innovative takes on roots music.
The Black Tones
Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio
M. Lockwood Porter
Ear to the Ground Showcase, Friday, May 26 from 5:45-8:00pm, Vera Project
The Vera Project stage is the best place to explore the mix of indie rock and American roots from these great bands.
St Paul De Vence
Greet the Sea
Folk, Redefined Showcase – Saturday, May 27 from 3:30-6:15pm, Vera Project
Featuring Northwest singer-songwriters and full bands, this showcase shines a new light on folk.
Kinfolk: Stories in Song – Sunday, May 28, from 1-3pm, Folklife Cafe
This showcase focuses on the storytelling abilities of great well-known indie songwriters.
Kimo Muraki of Tiny Messengers
Giddy Up Roots Music, Sunday, May 28, from 2:45-4:45, Fountain Lawn Stage
What good is Americana if you can’t dance to it? Get up front at the Fountain Lawn Stage and shake it to these two up-and-coming roots bands from the NW.
Kindiependent Showcase, Monday, May 29 from 11:00am-2:00pm, Fountain Lawn Stage
A new tradition at Folklife, the Kindiependent Showcase brings together the best indie rock bands playing music for kids and families.
Brian Vogan and his Good Buddies
New Americana Roots Show, Sunday, May 28, from 6-9pm, Back Porch Stage
New sounds in Americana, courtesy of the Northwest music scene.
The Local Strangers
The Talbott Brothers
Ky Burt and the Moonlight Travelers
Curtis/Sutton & The Scavengers
New this year to the Northwest Folklife Festival: The KEXP Gathering Space
In partnership with KEXP, Northwest Folklife will present two artists a day in the KEXP Gathering Space in the station’s new location at Seattle Center. Featuring:
The Black Tones
Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio
MORE PROGRAMMING HIGHLIGHTS
With 5,000 performers on over 25 stages over four days, the Northwest Folklife Festival schedule is a powerfully complex creation. But here are some hand-picked highlights from the schedule to help engender new discoveries. We encourage you to go exploring to find your own new favorite band at Folklife!
Can’t Miss Showcases
These showcases are guaranteed to be a good time and will hopefully introduce you to new music and traditions from the Pacific Northwest!
Pagdiriwang Phillippine Festival Presents, Friday, May 26, from 4-6:00pm, Center Theatre
Presented by Festál festival Pagdiriwang, this showcase will introduce audiences to some of the best Filipino music and dance traditions, including the martial arts of the Philippines (eskrima and kali) that have been popular in Hollywood (like the Jason Bourne films).
Bollywood Showcase, Friday, May 26, from 6:45-8:15pm, Exhibition Hall
There’s not many more visually spectacular traditions that bhangra dancing. With fiery costumes, incredibly catchy melodies, and virtuosic dance moves, this showcase will feature bhangra dance from top NW dance troupes, as well as folk dances and Bollywood singing. Featuring Dub City Bhangra, Rhythms of India Dance School, UW DangeRAAS DAWGS, and more.
The New Cool Show, Saturday, May 27, from 1-4:00pm, Fountain Lawn Stage
Working with Seattle’s jazz radio station, KNKX, and their formative show on avant-jazz, The New Cool, this showcase will feature the most innovative new jazz bands in the Northwest, each one pushing jazz forward into new dimensions. Featuring D’Vonne Lewis LIMITED EDITION, Velocity, and The New Triumph.
Festival Sundiata Presents, Saturday, May 27, from 5-10:00pm, Mural Amphitheatre
Festál’s African-American festival takes over the Fountain Lawn for five hours on Saturday night, featuring old-school soul bands from Seattle like Goody Bagg and Funk E Fusion, new soul stars like Grace Love, youth gospel, even an African-American step team.
Festál Turns 20: Music Collaboration Showcase, Saturday, May 27, from 7-10:00pm, Center Theatre
This innovative showcase will bring together master musicians from some of the Festál festival organizations to collaborate in cross-cultural communication. Masters from Egypt, India, Brazil, Senegal, NW Coast Native America, Ghana, Mexico, and the Balkans will participate.
Full Day of Dancing, Sunday, May 28, from 11:00am-10:00pm, Fisher Pavilion
The Northwest Folklife Festival is about more than just checking out new bands; it’s about participating. So take your turn on the dance floor to dance with a partner or to learn how to dance with guided lessons. Dance genres featured on Sunday at the Fisher Pavilion include the Western Swing and Alt-Country Ass-Kicker Wake Up, Sunday Afternoon Contra Dance, Cajun & Zydeco Roadhouse Dance, Sunday Sunset Contra, and Big Waltzes for the Big Room.
KBCS Acoustic Showcase, Sunday, May 28 from 1-3:00pm, Fisher Green Stage
Curated by KBCS, this showcase brings powerhouse acoustic musicians from outside the Northwest to our region to showcase inspiration.
Jeff Scroggins & Colorado
LeRoy Bell and His Only Friends
A Bailar! Latin Dance Party, Sunday, May 28, from 8:00-10:00pm, Mural Amphitheatre
Despite the Northwest’s large Latin and Hispanic populations, it can be hard for those outside of the communities to find great Latin music. Folklife solves that problem by inviting three of the best Latin and Hispanic bands in the Northwest for an evening of dancing: SuperSones (Cuban Son music), Banda La Mejor (Mexican banda), and Los Tremendos De Tijuana (Mexican norteno).
Gospel Showcase, Monday, May 29, from 11:45am-1:45pm, Mural Amphitheatre
Start your morning off right with a high-energy dose of Northwest gospel music. Featuring local African-American gospel legends Pastor Pat Wright and the Total Experience Gospel Choir, this showcase is a long-standing tradition at Folklife.
New Cultural Cuisine Stage, Monday, May 29, 12-12:45pm and 2:45-3:15pm, Narrative and Cultural Cuisine Stage
New to the festival this year, the Cultural Cuisine Stage is a professional stage meant for cooking demonstrations. It will be staffed by members of the Festál events this year and on Monday will host cooking demos on Italian and Iranian cooking.
International Artists at Folklife
Though the Northwest Folklife Festival does not have headliners and generally only accepts regional performers from the Northwest, some special guests will be arriving this year on the invite of our community partners.
Jinta-la-Mvta – Saturday, May 27, from 7:45-8:15pm, Fountain Lawn Stage
This zany klezmer brass band hails from the unlikely country of Japan and are here on special invite from Honk! Fest Northwest. They’ll be part of the Honk! showcase on Saturday evening and are billed as “uniquely Japanese world music.”
Bugge & Høirup / 3 Fiddlers 3 Traditions – Saturday, May 27, 1:15pm-2:00pm, Cornish Playhouse
Renowned Danish musicians Kristian Bugge (fiddle) and Morten Alfred Høirup (guitar) have long held ties to the Northwest and the festival. Now, Kristian is touring with his wife, Northwest Métis fiddler Jamie Fox as part of the group 3 Fiddlers 3 Traditions (also feat. Ruthie Dornfeld).
Underground Legends of the Northwest
The Crow Quill Night Owls and Baby Gramps – Saturday, May 27, from 3:50-5:00pm, Back Porch Stage
They may have gotten their start playing anarchic crust music and riding the rails, but today Port Townsend’s The Crow Quill Night Owls are one of the best ragtime and jug bands in the US. Lead guitarist Kit Stovepipe was even hand-picked by folk legend Maria Muldaur to star on a recent album. Baby Gramps is a living Northwest legend of mad folk music. Our own Peter Stampfel!
László Orbán, Forrás Banda – Sunday, May 28, from 11:00am-1:30pm, Center Theatre, as part of Hungarian Showcase
Transylvanian fiddler László Orbán used to play with the preeminent Hungarian State Folk Ensemble, and is a masterful violinist practiced in both folk and classical realms. He’s gathered a group of the best Hungarian master musicians in the Northwest for the festival.
Massive Monkees, Sunday, May 28, 2:45-5:15pm, Cornish Playhouse
World B-Boy Champions Massive Monkees have long held the torch high for breakdancing in the Pacific Northwest. They’ve been around since the mid-90s and are considered the pre-eminent breakdance crew in the region. They’ll be at Folklife this year as part of the Massive Monkees | Arts Corp – Massive Break Challenge.
Danbert Nobacon, Sunday, May 28, from 9:00-9:25pm, Vera Project
A founding member of British anarcho-folk-pop band Chumbawamba, Nobacon has a long history of political activism in the UK. He’s been living in Eastern Washington for the past years and recently released a new album in a new political climate. He’s performing at Folklife this year as part of Ball of Wax’s Resistance Showcase.
Harley & Shera Bray, Monday, May 29, 11:45am-12:15pm, Back Porch Stage
Though not well-known outside of bluegrass circles, Northwest banjo player Harley Bray has had a powerful influence on the tradition. His family band, The Bray Brothers, was a key seminal group in the progression of bluegrass in the 1960s, and he played with Bill Monroe as well! He’s long been a key fixture of the Northwest bluegrass scene and is one of the best bluegrass banjo players around.
Clinton Fearon – Monday, May 29, from 8:15-9:00pm, Mural Amphitheatre
Fearon was a key member of the seminal early Jamaican reggae group the Gladiators. He recorded with Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry at his studio in Kingston, and bore witness to great moments in Jamaican reggae history. A longtime resident of Seattle, his closing show on Monday is the traditional way to end out a great Northwest Folklife Festival.
Northwest Folklife is an independent arts organization that celebrates the multigenerational arts, cultures, and traditions of a global Pacific Northwest, 365 days of the year. For 45 years, Northwest Folklife has been deeply committed to celebrating the diversity of our Northwest communities and to de-mystifying our differences together, under one roof. Northwest Folklife believes that arts and cultures build stronger communities. Northwest Folklife is committed to access for all and works to unite our communities by offering all of our programming with no admission charge by raising donations from individuals, corporations, foundations, and the public sector.
The Northwest Folklife Festival is Northwest Folklife’s key annual event and the largest community-arts powered festival in the nation. Bringing nearly 250,000 people over four days to the Seattle Center, the Northwest Folklife Festival presents more than 5,000 performers from nearly every genre of music, many of whom are drawn from the 100 different cultural communities that Northwest Folklife works with year-round. Northwest Folklife breaks down the economic barriers that can separate our communities by offering an annual festival of unprecedented scope without an admission charge, but built on individual donations. These donations help ensure that the festival can return every year, and are fueled by individual donors who believe that the arts should remain accessible for all. The Northwest Folklife Festival is more than a celebration of the diversity of the Pacific Northwest, it’s also a chance to engage directly with the many communities that make up our region. It’s a place to learn, to dance, to play, to try something new, and to discover something that will inspire us for the rest of the year. The Northwest Folklife Festival is sponsored in part by Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, Western Washington Toyota Dealers, Ben & Jerry’s of Greenlake, The Frankfurter, Renewal by Andersen, Caffe Ladro, The Mediterranean Inn and Belltown Inn, MarQueen Hotel and the Inn at Queen Anne, Pacific Continental Bank and Hostelling International at the American Hotel.