I recall those early years of the Northwest Folklife Festival. Although it always seemed to be raining, it was Seattle’s way to kick off the summer season. Now celebrating 40 years, it’s the largest free festival of its kind in North America, and takes place May 27-30, 2011 at Seattle Center.
One of my favorite things about the festival are the names of the musical groups. Here is a sample of some of the groups performing throughout the four-days: Dysfunction Junction, Bad Latitude, Shotgun Wedding, Shanghaied on the Willamette, Hobosexual, Prozac Mountain Boys, All Strings Considered, Conjugal Visitors, Marley’s Ghost, Da Oddah Guy and Uncle Fuzzy and the Jamshack Band.
There are some “old timers” in the mix, too — musicians who have been playing the folk circuit for years. Among them are Jim Page and Reilly & Maloney. Jim Page has been a fixture on the Seattle and world folk music scene for decades, and I recall seeing David Reilly & Ginny Maloney perform at Piccadilly Corner, located in Seattle’s historic Olympic Hotel (now The Fairmont Olympic).
To celebrate the 40th annual Northwest Folklife Festival, there’s a special showcase on Saturday, May 28 from 2-5 PM at Charlotte Martine Theatre. Featuring emcee Kermet Apio, the special guests include:
- Southern Express: Powwow drum group
- Vivian and Phil Williams: Founders of Northwest Folklife Festival and Voyager Recordings & Publications
- Bygdedeal with Hale Bill & the Bops: High energy Scandinavian music and dance
- Gansango Dance Company: West African traditional and contemporary dance and music
- Dave & the Dalmatians: Croatian a cappella men’s singing group
- India Association of Western Washington: South Asian contemporary dance (Bhangra and Bollywood!)
New this year is Indie Roots at Center Square, located just north of the Space Needle. It includes a small stage featuring indy artists performing acoustic music. Enjoy the stage from a beer garden or listen to the music while shopping at Urban Craft Uprising, comprised of independent craft artists. No Gap or Nordstrom here! And of course, there will be plenty of food vendors offering a variety of dining choices.
If you’re coming from out of town, hotel festival sponsors include The Mediterranean Inn, Belltown Inn, Marqueen Hotel, Inn at Queen Anne, Courtyard by Marriott, Comfort Suites and HI Seattle Hotel. Ask for the Northwest Folklife Festival Rate.