Archive for the ‘Festival’ category

We’re so thankful for Levi’s ears.

March 31, 2011

Homemade Goods

Pioneer of the Ball of Wax Audio Quarterly, Levi Fuller, has been sharing the music he loves since 2005. And not only has he been sharing the music – he’s been documenting it – with homemade compilation CDs, complete with screen-printed artwork.

Levi Fuller

Levi says he started Ball of Wax Audio Quarterly with “the idea of shedding light on and creating a document of some of the wonderful music that was being made all around me, much of which without any fanfare, press, or radio play”. With a new compilation released every three months and a live show to support each release, Levi has built a strong force of musicians and supporters alike – this May will be the release of Ball of Wax, Volume 24! (Levi is currently accepting submissions for Ball of Wax, Volume 24 until April 11th).

Folklife will be teaming up with Ball of Wax to introduce our newest stage, Indie Roots at the Folklife Pre-Fest Party on April 22nd at the Columbia City Theater. Ball of Wax bands, Led to Sea and Corespondents will be joined by the Crow Quill Night Owls and Mighty Ghosts for a night of celebration, good music and friends. Get your tickets here!

Don’t miss the Ball of Wax showcase at the upcoming Folklife Festival, May 29th from 12:00 – 3:00 PM on the Indie Roots Stage featuring Levi Fuller, Shenandoah Davis, Joshua Morrison, Sunday Evening Whiskey Club and Pickwick.

April 22, Columbia City Theater


Programming the Festival: How Does it Work?

January 7, 2011

The gorgeous ladies of Programming. From left: Jerin Falkner, Kelli Faryar and Lucie Klimes. Center: Debbie Fant

Do you ever wonder how four days of music, 26 stages and over 6,000 performers are organized and scheduled for the Festival? Well, I do.

With that being said, I went to the Programming Department yesterday afternoon to learn a bit more about this gigantic task.

First off, I’ll dispel any preconceived notions of the proverbial waving of wands or snapping of fingers. If this were true, the Northwest Folklife Festival would be somewhat of an anomaly. What our Programming Department has in abundance is patience, passion for music and culture and a keen ear.

Already, when you walk into their office an enormous scheduling board takes up a whole wall and breaks the Festival into days, then intervals of time, and lastly performer tags of where they can schedule which artists and when. Confused yet? To me, this board closely resembles a puzzle; to them, it’s the Holy Grail.

Before I jump ahead, Programming gives me the scoop on the application process.  On September1st applications go live on the Northwest Folklife website. People who are interested in performing at the Festival can either submit an online or paper application. The application deadline is November 1st and at that point, Programming has collected anywhere from 1,200-1,400 applications. No big deal, right?

Programming then goes through every single application, listens to the submitted CDs or music links and enters the applications in the database.  As you can imagine, this process takes quite a bit of time and energy. 

After hundreds and hundreds of applications are reviewed, Programming starts the scheduling aspect.  Their goal is to represent over 61 genres of music at the Festival. These genres include global and regional music and dance styles. To help find performers who best represent a particular cultural community or genre, Programming relies on 60-70 Community Coordinators.  These Community Coordinators are active within their cultural community and help connect performers who best represent their cultures’ music or dance styles.

Overall, the application process results in scheduling around 900 to 950 performances.  The preliminary schedule is done in mid-March and final confirmations are sent out in April.  By Memorial Day Weekend, the kinks are (cross your fingers) all smoothed out, and Programming is ready to have their hard work enjoyed by the 250,000 people who attend the Festival.

What is one of Programming’s favorite times of the year you might ask? Well, besides Memorial Day Weekend, it’s probably June when they can decompress and reevaluate their work. Not to mention relive the Festival over and over again by listening to recorded tracks from the weekend and “digging for nuggets” to put on the Roots and Branches Vol. 2:  Live From the 2011 Festival CD. That isn’t a plug or anything…but you should probably check it out.

Help Us Gather Northwest Stories!

January 5, 2011

Northwest Folklife has created a brand new YouTube channel to bring  you updates on the forthcoming 2011 Northwest Folklife Festival and to collect Northwest Stories. Here, let me explain:

Now get filming! I can’t wait to hear your story…

Help us Celebrate Culture and Tradition: Donate!

December 17, 2010
Young Dancer

Photo by John S. Lewis

At Northwest Folklife, we believe that when people share their culture, music and heritage, opportunities are created to dissolve misunderstandings, break down stereotypes and increase respect for our region’s diverse communities.   We also believe that great cultural and educational experiences should be available to every member of our community, regardless of ability to pay.

As we celebrate our 40th year of bringing the community together, we want to thank you for the pivotal part you play in our history, and our future.  Did you know that donations from individuals make up 40% of our annual budget? Your support allows us to continue to offer North America’s largest celebration of arts and culture – the Northwest Folklife Festival – at no cost to the community.  Despite our successes and good news, we continue to face challenges caused by the economy and lower donations collected during last May’s rainy Festival.  If you believe in the work that we do, please consider making a gift to Folklife this holiday season.  Click here to donate online. Northwest Folklife can also accept your gift of stock or securities, or be included in your estate plans. For more information, click here or email    

As we continue our important work in this uneasy time, we are secure in knowing that we have an incredibly dedicated and loyal family of supporters who believe in our mission.  Together, we can make a difference.  Thank you for your support, and all the best to you this holiday season.

Want to perform at the 2011 Festival?

September 23, 2010
Karl Blau

Karl Blau and LAKE performing at the 2010 Festival. Photo by Piper Hanson

Attention musicians and dancers! We are now accepting applications for the 4oth annual Northwest Folklife Festival, May 27-30, 2011. Click here to apply online or download a .pdf of the application.

If you are a roots or traditional performer and you live in the Northwest (WA, OR, AK, ID, MT and BC, Canada), then you are eligible to take part in the largest free community arts Festival in the country.  If you are unsure whether or not your music falls into the “roots and traditional” category, send us an application anyway! We are always interested in showcasing new and emerging artforms. Applications are due by November 1st and will be reviewed by the Northwest Folklife programming staff.

If you have any questions or would like more information, email or call our performer hotline: 206-684-4189.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Coffeehouse Preview Thanks

May 18, 2010
This past weekend was filled with talented performers, great music and delicious coffee. A big thanks to Tully’s for hosting our first ever Folklife Coffeehouse Preview shows in Wallingford and Ballard.  The baristas and staff were amazing, especially as we rearranged furniture to accommodate all of our sound equipment.
Sam Russell & the Harborrats

Sam Russell & the Harborrats

Mark Ward
Mark Ward

Another big thanks goes out to Olivia De La Cruz, Sam Russell and the Harborrats, Mark Ward, and Tamara Power-Drutis for performing.  The Previews shows were stellar, and we’re looking forward to their Festival performances in a little under two weeks.

Tamara Power Drutis

Tamara Power Drutis

Olivia De La Cruz

Olivia De La Cruz

Folklife TumblersOne last note…the Folklife Tumblers moved like hotcakes!
If you bought one this past weekend, woo hoo!  If you want one, be sure to stop by your local Tully’s and pick one up.  For $10, you get the tumbler and a free drink.  Plus, $2 of your purchase supports Folklife. Get your tumbler today!

Folklife Previews…now playing at your local Tully’s

May 11, 2010

Celebrate the upcoming 39th Annual Northwest Folklife Festival at your local Tully’s THIS weekend!  Two nights, two shows, four excellent performers.  Don’t miss it!  (And be sure to pick up one of our limited edition 2010 Folklife Festival Tumblers while you’re there.)

Olivia de la Cruz & Sam Russell and the Harborrats
Friday, May 14 | 6pm
Tully’s (Wallingford) | FREE!

Mark Ward & Tamara Power-Drutis
Saturday, May 15 | 6pm
Tully’s (Ballard) | FREE!

About the Artists:

Olivia De La CruzOlivia De La Cruz
The 20 year-old Chelan native is a passionate singer and guitarist, writing her first song at the age of 18. Cruz’s music reflects her life experiences of love and loss, attracting audiences with her old-soul demeanor, clarity of voice and wisdom of lyrics. Cruz’s songs continue to evolve from charming and pleasant to poetic and intriguing.

Sam RussellSam Russell & the Harborrats
Sam Russell, a Seattle-based singer/songwriter, describes his sound as a rock-n-roll casserole.  Since 2005 Russell has been recording a series of eight albums called The Blue Moon Bible. The project is a melting pot of musical styles primarily based in American roots-music and attempts to tell a story through song in a new way, outside the traditional “rock opera.”  This summer, Russell will perform around the Pacific Northwest with his band The Harborrats.

Mark WardMark Ward
Spokane-based Mark Ward surprises audiences with his gorgeous voice and melodic lines all while playing the guitar and kick drum.  Wards’ folksy acoustic sound is sweetened with his well-written, soul-driven lyrics. In 2008, Ward was a finalist in the Susquehanna Music and Arts Festival’s national songwriting competition.  Little Lights, his debut album, was released later that year.

“When you’re one person with a guitar, you better have something compelling to separate yourself from all your like-minded compatriots. Ward definitely does — a magnetic, spine-tinglingly beautiful voice.” -Jeff Echert, The Inlander (Oct 20, 2008)

Tamara Power-DrutisTamara Power-Drutis
Seattleite Tamara Power-Drutis brings a unique voice to her songs of bruised egos and the vicious cycles of foolish love.  Her self-titled debut CD was produced at London Bridge Studios in Seattle (the same studio where platinum albums by Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains and Soundgarden were recorded).  A world traveler, her international experiences give her a fresh take on her favorite songwriting subjects: boys, bedrooms and big questions.

Communities in Focus: FolkFloor Volunteers

May 10, 2010

Long-time volunteer and Northwest Folklife Board Member Luther Black gives us some behind-the-scenes background on the folks responsible for the dance floor at the Roadhouse.

Dancers at the Roadhouse

Dancers at the Roadhouse; ©Erika Schultz/Seattle Times

Who is your community? What can audiences at the Festival expect to experience at your showcase?

We call ourselves the FolkFloor Volunteers; we are Folklife volunteers/supporters who enjoy dancing in the Roadhouse every NWFL Festival weekend and throughout the year around our region. Every year anywhere from 70 to 130 volunteers work in shifts from Wednesday evening before to Tuesday evening after the Festival weekend. We assemble, tape, clean, wax and buff the 56′ X 96′ dance floor for four days of Roadhouse dancing. Then after the Festival we carefully take it apart, paint a portion of it, and return it to storage until the next year.
Festival attendees are invited to come to the Roadhouse to see our large gray cushioned floor, and to join us dancing to the inspiring dance bands for contras, squares, swing, Cajun, blues, and more. On Thursday (all day), or Monday night after 9 PM, all can join us as we assemble and strike, respectively, the FolkFloor at this year’s NW Folklife Festival.

How long has your community been involved with Northwest Folklife? How did you first get involved?

In 1987, an original core of concerned dancers and musicians raised the money, decided on a workable design, and installed the first FolkFloor in the old Flag Pavilion West, with the encouragement of the Executive Director and Production Director of the Festival. During the next three Festivals we made a few modifications to reduce wear and correct dust problems that arose. Since then, year after year, volunteers have returned to work on the FolkFloor, encouraging all to join in the community effort to make the Roadhouse an attractive, danceable venue.

How are younger or newer folks getting involved?

Each spring, as the FolkFloor volunteers start to discuss logistical plans for the Festival, we ask everyone to invite local dancers to join in the unique effort to produce a comfortable and quality dance experience at the Roadhouse.

This spring we are reaching out through word of mouth and via social networking (e.g., Facebook) to get new faces involved with process of turning the Fisher Pavilion into the Roadhouse as we build out the Folkfloor.

Three things you’d like people to know about your community and your cultural traditions and arts:

a. The FolkFloor came directly from the grassroots: its concept, design and execution were community-driven.
b. Although several of the original volunteers no longer dance the entire weekend, they remain committed to the project and continue to devote hours of labor for the benefit of the entire community.
c. Dancing of the sort seen on the FolkFloor is a living and growing tradition. We encourage current dancers and musicians to accept an active role in furthering the historic success of the FolkFloor.

Communities in Focus: Northwest Fiddle and Dance

May 6, 2010

Community Coordinator Bríd Nowlan sheds some light on the Pacific Northwest Fiddle and Dance scene.

Who is your community?  What can audiences at the Festival expect to experience at your showcase?

Ours is a community of fiddlers, other musicians and dancers.

The fiddle has been at the center of community gatherings in the Pacific Northwest since the earliest days of European exploration. Lewis and Clark brought with them no less than two fiddlers, who helped ease relations between the newcomers and the native residents. In 1862, at a wedding on the banks of the Duwamish River, fiddler Jake Lake entertained both European settlers and Native Americans with tunes still played here today. Fiddlers are still settling here, coming from all over the world with their tunes and dances.  The Washington Old Time Fiddlers Association was founded in 1965 to foster the tradition of Northwest fiddle music.

Marty Dahlgren

Marty Dahlgren

We have four community events at this year’s festival.  The annual Fiddlers Showcase, Saturday 11AM-2PM at the Charlotte Martin Theatre, will feature some of the best fiddlers from the region and beyond. At 2PM Sunday, in the Roadhouse, you can dance to the music of three outstanding dance fiddlers from Washington State: Gil Kiesecker played fiddle for dances in the 1920s and 30s in Eastern Washington; Vivian Williams has been entertaining Seattlites for four decades; and Marty Dahlgren has been playing around the Northwest for the past seventy years or so. At a workshop, 11AM on Sunday morning, in the Lopez Room, fiddler and historian Linda Danielson of Oregon and Missouri fiddler John White will teach some fiddle tunes. At 4PM on Monday, we will present two hundred years of Northwest fiddling on the Narrative Stage, with fiddlers Stuart Williams, Vivian Williams, Warren Argo and friends.

(Stuart Williams, Vivian Williams on fiddle, Phil Williams on guitar, play Marmaduke’s Hornpip at the 2006 Folklife Festival)

How long has your community been involved with Northwest Folklife?  How did you first get involved?

The Washington Old Time Fiddlers Association has been involved with Northwest Folklife since its beginning—the two organizations share Phil & Vivian Williams as founders. The Association had a stage with non-stop fiddle music in the first few years of the festival. Stuart Williams now organizes the Fiddlers Showcase, which has been one of the few places where Seattlites can hear older Washington fiddlers from outside the city.

How are younger or newer folks getting involved?

The Association has 16 districts across the state, each of which hosts regular jams and other events where new and younger musicians are always welcome. The Association’s annual workshop at Kittitas is an important source of instruction for new fiddlers. We also have several publications that chronicle the history and feature this music.

Three things you’d like people to know about your community and your cultural traditions and arts:

1. The traditional fiddle music of the Pacific Northwest tells the story of modern human migrations across the North American continent. European and French Canadian reels and jigs, Missouri hoedowns and Scandinavian walking tunes came here on the bows of numerous anonymous fiddlers to form the backbone of a unique musical style.

2. There has been a continuous tradition of fiddle music in the Pacific Northwest since the earliest days of European settlement. Before the mid-twentieth century fiddlers of all backgrounds played together here, generating a new sound of which just a few practitioners remain. By the mid-twentieth century, new recording technologies allowed musicians to maintain distinct threads of musical styles at a distance from their source. Wax discs, reel-to-reel and cassette tapes and now digital recordings allow people to learn their style of choice, whether Scandinavian, Irish or Appalachian, regardless of where they live.

3. Music is a community resource, an essential component of almost all our gatherings. It used to be dependent on a live musician and rooted in place. Over time new technologies encroached upon the musician’s place—and especially that of the traditional fiddler. More recently, the pendulum has begun to swing back again and there are probably more fiddlers now than ever before and more opportunities to hear music and participate in dances. The Washington Old Time Fiddlers Association honors the region’s tradition bearers while welcoming and encouraging newcomers.

(Gil Kiesecker on fiddle, Stuart Williams on guitar, playing Clearwater Stomp at Folklife, 2006)

Communities in Focus: Filipino community

April 28, 2010

From Community Coordinator Roger Del Rosario

Amy - StudyantinaWho is your community?  What can audiences at the Festival expect to experience at your showcase?

We represent the Filipino Community.  They’ll experience Philippine art through folk dance performances, music & songs, art & cultural exhibits, and a narrative panel on cultural experiences of Filipino-Americans in
Pacific Northwest.

How long has your community been involved with Northwest Folklife?  How did you first get involved?

I have been involved with the Northwest Folklife Festival since the very beginning through the Filipiniana Dance Company.  They have invited us to perform there almost every year.

How are younger or newer folks getting involved?

There are 5 groups performing at the Cultural Show with younger and some new dancers; the art exhibits will be by
two young artists from the Philippines, and the speakers at the Narrative Stage are young and new in accordance with the subject matter.

© Copyright Jal

© Copyright Jal

Three things you’d like people to know about your community and your cultural traditions and arts:

1. Regarding our cultural traditions and art:  It’s a mixture of Chinese, Arabic, Hindu-  Malayan, Spanish, and American cultures because of our history with their contributions through conquests and assimilations.
2. Family is the most important to us and our Roman Catholic faith where we draw our strength and moral values.
3. Filipinos are a proud people and sensitive to human needs, hospitable, and very friendly.

Filipino Showcase at the Northwest Folklife Festival
Saturday, May 29 | 3-5pm
Charlotte Martin Theatre