A blog sponsored by the Michigan State University Museum's Michigan Traditional Arts Program, a partnership with the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs. Sharing news and information about the Great Lakes Folk Festival, Quilt Index, the MSU Museum's traditional arts activities, Great Lakes traditional artists and arts resources, and much more. Development of content for this blog supported by funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Traditions Showcases

Amongst the most popular features of the Great Lakes Folk Festival, according to both attendees and musicians, are the Tradition Showcases. Several times throughout each festival weekend, we assemble musicians from the various bands and—with the help of knowledgeable presenters—explore their backgrounds and influences, ask them to demonstrate a song or tune or two, and discuss how similar instruments might be played differently (or similarly) from one tradition to another.

This year's showcases feature instruments common to bands (fiddle, accordion, percussion) instruments that we don't see every day (begena and krar, kamanche, kanun, sitar) as well as a themed set (From Blues to Bluegrass) and one in which four random musicians are assembled to see what happens.


(Photo by Patrick T. Power

Friday, August 10, 7:45 P.M. • Abbot Stage
Accordion Traditions
Featuring Bua's Brían Ó hAirt (Irish Celtic), Joaquín Díaz (Merengue) and Leroy Thomas (Zydeco) Accordion Traditions will compare and contrast accordion styles from Ireland, the Dominican Republic and Louisiana.

Friday, August 10, 9:30 P.M. • Abbot Stage
The Roots of Bluegrass
Claire Lynch and her band demonstrate the musical roots of bluegrass in an informal discussion with Bob Blackman.


(Photo by Patrick T. Power

Saturday, August 11, 1:00 P.M. • Abbot Stage
Fiddle Traditions
Always one of the Great Lakes Folk Festival's favorites, Fiddle Traditions will compare and contrast fiddle styles as performed by Bua's Devin Shepherd (Celtic), David Bass (Old-time) and Bryan McDowell (Bluegrass), as well as the generational relationship of the three styles.

Saturday, August 11, 7:45 P.M. • Abbot Stage
String, Strang, Strung
Many people think of folk music as a guitar and banjo and fiddle. And while we certainly have plenty of those at the festival each year, many cultures have found unique ways with which to produce sounds and music... sometimes with but a string or two; sometimes with dozens of strings. In this showcase, we will feature the Indian Sitar (Hasu Patel), the Kamanche (Saeed Kamjoo), the Begena and Krar (Temesgen Hussein) and the Kanun (Ara Topouzian).

Sunday, August 12, Noon • Abbot Stage
Percussion Traditions
Guitars and fiddles and accordions often get most of the attention while those that keep the beat are kept (often literally) in the background. In this showcase, we will feature the Indian Tabla (Vishal Nagar), the Iranian Daf and Tumbak (Mehdi Darvishi), Merengue Tambora (Peter Barzey) and Guira (Raul Villa Rojas) and Zydeco Rubboard (Charles Fontenot).

Sunday, August 12, 3:00 P.M. • Abbot Stage
Airport Jam
It is not uncommon for musicians to cross paths in airports, and it's very uncommon for musicians to not want to play music together when they've got the chance. Leroy Thomas (Zydeco), Devin Shepherd (Irish Celtic) and Frank Lee (Old-Time) will each kick off a tune or two and the rest will follow.


(Photo by Patrick T. Power