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Pacific Northwest Folk Life Festival 2015




On behalf of the Northwest Folklife Festival, Victory Music, myself and any other concerned cultural entity, I’m proud to announce that the 44th annual Northwest Folklife Festival, featuring a wide world view of the many creative and traditional cultures that come from all over our planet and live right here in the Northwest, will take place at Seattle Center on the 22nd-25th of May.

For you newbies (and we hope there’s a lot of you to add to our veteran Folk lifer’s) this will be an opportunity to become aware of the many diverse and valuable  cultures that live, work and celebrate themselves all around us all the time. Since our lives are so cluttered or sheltered that we often don’t realize how close and connected we are there is much education to be had while enjoying so many styles of music, dance, crafts, foods, jamming and so much more. So welcome all; Old, new and in-between to one of the finest and most diverse festivals of culture anywhere! Here’s some of what you’ll fine if you attend this year’s event.

The 2015 Cultural Focus: BEATS, RHYMES & RHYTHMS: Traditional Roots of Today’s Branches

Each year Folklife chooses a particular culture as our focus and this enables the festival and you the public to observe a deeper Knowledge of and connection to a valuable entity in our Northwest community that goes above and beyond what we would ordinarily receive from a mere performance or 2. This wider view includes performances, workshops, lectures, demonstrations and anything else that contribute to the history, value and meaning for the culture, and it has proven to be a valuable part of the festival for entertainment and bringing our regional peoples together in a healthy way, which is why we keep presenting it.

This year the focus on BEATS, RHYMES & RHYTHMS: Traditional Roots of Today’s Branches, will explore the cross-cultural roots of arts expressions from African and Latin countries, the blues, gospel. scat singing and other traditions that have grown into the contemporary cultures of today with specific reference to the traditional roots of Hip Hop. Folklife recognizes that tradition is a living, breathing entity and expands from moment to moment, serving as a guidepost as opposed to a ball and chain.

This allows us to understand that today’s hot item is tomorrow’s tradition and is considered primitive by future generations, who hopefully will respect and learn from it (And let me take this moment to assure all our veteran Folklifers that all the styles you’ve loved in the past 43 years will be at Folklife in abundance. Parent cultures never go away.

They simply make room for their children). We’re proud to be offering our community an opportunity to glean a greater understanding of Hip Hop culture and feel that it will bring us closer together and perhaps alleviate some misunderstandings concerning Hip Hop that mainstream media have perpetuated.

The program which stretches over all 4 days of the festival will tie in the 5 key elements of HIp Hop: Music (DJing), Dance (B-boy and B-girl), storytelling (MCing), Public Art (Graffiti), and Social Awareness, back to the origins of Hip Hop. Among the presentations will be the panel discussions on Intersections In Hip Hop: Miogony, Violence and Homophobia with Maomi Ishisaki and Moni Tep, and Music of the Movement with Steve Sneed, Janet Stecher and Aaron Dixon.

These and others will take place in the JBL Theatre. Musical performances will include a Traditional Roots of Hip Hop Showcase and a Brazil Showcase at the Mural Amphitheatre, a Black Church showcase and Black Magic Noize show at the Vera Project, Women of the Blues at the Fountain Lawn and Parallels In Motion: From the Village to the Streets, in the Bagley Theatre.

The SIFF Film Center partners with us to present 6 films and 3 Q&A sessions over the course of the event. The films will include titles such as Louder Than A Bomb, Sample This and Hip Hop Fellow and Q&A will include subjects such as 50 Next: Seattle Hip Hop Worldwide, which will discuss the possible evolution of the culture as the present styles give way to progress and become the folk music of the future.

Additional treats (among so many more) will offer a performance by Arts Corps Breakin’ Challenge (by Massive Monkees) in the Bagley Theatre, A 20-6 Zulu/UW Ladies Break Show at the Mural Amphitheatre, visual displays such as Graffiti Gallery Exhibit at the International Fountain Pavilion, and Coolout Network Visual Art Display and workshop on the Art of B-Boying and Capoeira Dance in the Armory.

A special addition to these fun times is the Seattle Youth Arts & Lectures Seattle Youth Laureate competition, which is another new event featuring 8 finalists. Folklife is pleased to be a partner w/Arts & Lectures for this program which will happen on Saturday at 1 PM in the Cornish Playhouse. And there’s a lot more of this to be had, as you can find out on May 1st when the entire schedule of events with all days, times and stages will be available on the Website: www.nwfolklife.org.

Even if you’re not a fan of Hip Hop there’s much to be gained simply by becoming aware of this culture and its presence and affect on our greater community. And if you are, then you’ll be entertained while becoming more cognizant of where it all comes from and how you can better relate to it. It’s a win/win all around and can only add to the magic of the annual event.


A whole lot, that’s what! The only constant is change, and so it is for Folklife. The Back Porch Stage is coming Back after about a 10 year hiatus and will celebrate American Roots w/the Blues, Zydeco, old timer, bluegrass, country, R&B and Indie roots in an intimate setting. During stage down times the beer gardens will have local favorite DJ’s from local radio stations spinning a variety of tunes to keep the energy flowing and the feet tapping. Several of our Native American Tribes will present “Welcome To Our Native Land”, Powwow and Coastal Celebrations, which is an expanded version of a previous presentation.

They will take place at the Space Needle by the John T. Williams Pole off Broad Street and 5th Avenue on Sunday from 11 AM-7 PM featuring the Duwamish Tribe and on Monday from Noon-7 PM featuring a variety of tribes. Along with these ceremonies there will be storytelling, crafts demonstrations, totem teachings and more interesting entertainments and history for the whole family.

Also new are the Tahian Showcase on Saturday as 4 PM, a Basque Showcase w/a participatory dance Saturday at 1 PM in the Armory and an Oinkari performance (I can’t tell you about this one. You’ll have to show up) on Sunday at 11:40 AM in the Exhibition Hall. Several new dance workshops are Dances of the Arab World on Saturday at 1 PM, Peruvian Scissor Dance Monday at noon and West African Dance Monday at 2:30 PM. In addition and expanded version of the Native American Memorial Day Ceremony will happen on Monday and include Drumming, PowWow dancers, a color guard and Native American speakers.

There’s more new stuff and recent additions that many of you haven’t caught up with yet and all this and more awaits you after you and your guests pass the gate/donation boxes and enter the carnival!


If I reported on every excellent showcase at Folklife this year it would take you until Sunday of the Festival to finish reading.  I’ll simply wet your appetite with a few really good ones from several cultures. We’ve partnered with community groups such as Hearth Music, Seattle Living Room Shows and Underwood Stables to present 5 Indie Showcases: The Seattle Living Room Showcase is on Saturday at the Fountain Lawn Stage, Underwood Stables is Sunday at Vera as is Heavy Harmonies and Folk Redefined (always an interesting and sometimes controversial topic. Hooray! Let’s talk about it!), while Ear To the Ground is on Monday at Fountain Lawn.

Other fine showcases among many dozen are Fisher Poets On the Road on Sunday at the Folklife Cafe from 6-9 PM, South Indian Classical Dance on Monday, 1 PM in the Center Theatre, Arab, Persian and Central Asian Dance, Sunday at 7 PM in the Exhibition Hall (International Dance Stage), Songs From The Mountains on the Back Porch Stage Sunday at 2PM, Maidens of the Sea and Maritime Showcases back to back on Saturday from 1-6 PM on the Traditional Stage, the Single Man Blues Showcase Monday at 3 PM at the Back Porch, the Bulgarian Showcase on Saturday at 11AM in the Bagley Theatre, Vietnamese on Sunday at 11 AM in Cornish, The Filthy Fingers United Showcase on Monday at 4 PM in Vera, and also on Monday at 7:30 PM on the Fountain Lawn will be Out With A Bang: A Big Brass Showcase.

And there are several dozen more of these showcases featuring every continent and too many countries to count without a calculator. So much to enjoy, so much to learn, so much to share. And as above, you can find it all on May 1st when the entire schedule is posted on-line at www.nwfolklife.org.


Yes, by all means don’t forget to frequent some of the many performances that are solo or small bands who are simply there out of love of music and the culture, are almost always non-professional (though many of them are of high professional quality), and to whom Folklife is one of the very few times they get to show their music to the public.

There are thousands of players and dancers who follow the time honored custom of simply playing music because it’s one the finest ways to enjoy life and connect with other people that there is. This is their moment, they’ve got the goods and we should take some time out for them. The good stuff and good feelings are everywhere, and at Folklife you don’t even have to do much searching to find them!


You bet we want the kids!! The Discovery Zone will be in the Next 50 Plaza and open from 11 AM-7 PM all 4 days for your entertainment and picnic pleasure with the Grand Opening of Seattle’s new playground at Noon on Friday. This new area will offer a 35-foot climbing tower, colorful Labyrinth, ADA-accessible Carousel, child-inspired musical instruments, listening stations. sound swings and play mounds. Designed by celebrated Northwest artists Trimpin and Judith Caldwell, this area will be a place for safe child friendly entertainment that is totally in keeping with the Folklife and Seattle Center mission and purpose.

In addition to the new area we will also have Instrument Play and Presentations featuring instruments from around the world for children to test out, Lessons and practice of drawing w/free drawing supplies, Rhythm sessions for kids, Making Their Own Mosaic w/recycled materials, Toy Boat Building, Fiber Arts, Surface Elements (A showcase of Graffiti Forms) and more.

There will also be many performances from some of the most creative and friendly musicians and storytellers covering the usual wide variety of culture: Paul “Che Oke Ten” Wagner, Crow Valley String Band, Shake It Up Stories, The Canote Brothers, The Somali Youth and Family Club, The Seattle Women’s Steel Pan Project, Mikey Mike the Rad Scientist and Afro Cuban and Puerto Rican Music are less than half of what will be on stage in the Discovery Zone. Your kids (and grandkids) will love it so bring that picnic basket, kick back and let them enjoy while you take some time off.


I’m glad you asked. Of course there will be dancing all over the yard for all 4 days. There are 90 hours of participatory dance at the Roadhouse (what else?), the Armory Court and elsewhere as well as several dozen demonstrations ( primarily in the Exhibition Hall), and both celebrating cultures from all over the planet. It’s not a reach to state that Folklife wouldn’t be near as meaningful without our dances and possibly wouldn’t even exist! We know that large amounts of our Northwest Folk and folk-related family find their bliss on the dance floor and we’ll always aim to comply with your needs as much possible.

And of course that enables you to also hear some of our most beautiful and rhythmic music’s that are the engine that propels the feet! Hey, if you can get it 2 hits in 1 why not just go for it! If I don’t see you at a stage I’ll look for you on the floor!


YES, YES, YES!!!  We want you to do exactly that! Instrument check will be open from early to late each day so you can bring that instrument and be free of it when need be. There are more than enough spaces all over the Center where you can gather w/friends (and eventual new friends) and celebrate any of the sounds that move you and create beautiful and energetic sounds that will captivate passersby without creating a nuisance for any of the stages. Friends simply getting together to play is the essence of our culture and only adds to the overall atmosphere. NO, you don’t have to get accepted to a stage to play! Just crash the party and party down!


Of course you do. Why be stuck in the same old place w/your music or dance or knowledge of musical/dance culture or business? A complete gathering is when you gain something and give something. That’s why we always have a full schedule of workshops and panel concerts from Saturday through Monday that cover a very wide range of topics dealing with artistry, creativity, business acumen and so forth. The presenters are knowledgeable and deadicated, the information is meaningful and receiving it can only add to your overall festival experience. This has happened to me at Folklife more than once and can happen to you as well. Check it all out at the Website starting May 1st.


You didn’t ask me this because you’re (usually) too busy having a fine time at the festival, but I feel the need to tell you anyway. What makes our festival happen, and in such a wonderful way, are your volunteering and financial contributions! This is basically a free festival, but nothing is actually free! Everything has a price in some way, shape or form and a huge budget is required to put on this very large free festival each Memorial Day Weekend. We aren’t tied in to major corporations who would control our every move, but are dependent upon a few businesses who believe in us and the donations from our members and many other true believers.

This is why we have donation boxes at each gate and around the festival and also deploy volunteers to sell pins and buttons at the stages. We also are pleased when any of you join Friends of Folklife on an annual basis which keeps the cash coming in and gives you access to all information early as well as an occasional discount for a paid event. Because we obviously can’t afford to pay every volunteer (We have a very small paid staff) we recruit hundreds of volunteers to perform thousands of shifts for each festival. And this is more than a job or a contribution.

Folklife is a family (at least that’s always been my take on it) and I find that the more energy I put out the better time I have of it. It gets me closer to the action and allows me to interact with my Folklife Family and meet new people with whom I may then form relationships that may have little to do with the festival itself. After all, once you meet someone in one situation you may discover that you have a lot more in common. It happens all the time and it can happen to you.

There’s an old cliché that says, “Love makes the world go round”. It sound good but actually money and labor make the world go round and love is what makes the ride worthwhile. By donating and volunteering at Folklife you inject yourself further into the love stream and can enjoy the whole package. And why not? Don’t we all deserve it?!


THAT’S RIGHT! You’ll find crafts booths all over the grounds (and especially on or right around the Crafts Pathway) and these creations are the work of many full and part-time crafts people who create their various goods from scratch and have become experts at what they do. All of these crafts are functional in everyday life or highly entertaining or both and come from the hearts of each crafter just as much as any of the musicians or dancers that you’ll see.

And like the music and dances, they will cover a wide range of  styles, looks, and usage,  so that there’s bound to be something you can take home and have as a part of your house, or as a gift for that Birthday or graduation and so forth. Of course these creations aren’t free like the music/dance but will last a lot longer and remind you of the great time you had as well as providing much needed support for these valuable and deadicated members of our community.

The food booths don’t have trouble getting customers (So what else is new?) but if you can, rather than bring something you always eat, why not stand in line for one of the many culinary treats that come from our so-called foreign friends (What’s really foreign anyway?) and get into the full flavor (pun intended) of the festival?


Well, I can’t think of anything right now that would add to what’s above. You might bring light and heavy clothes if it looks like you’ll need them, you might want to arrive early enough to find close parking if there is still such a thing, and who knows what else. At any rate the community will gather in the thousands at Seattle Center from Friday, May 22nd through Monday, May 25th for our annual very multi-cultural celebration and the beat thing any of you can add to it will be yourselves. See you there!

(Percy Hilo: percivalpeacival@gmail.com   or 206-784-0378. All comments welcome!)photo4


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Wintergrass Festival 2015

wintergrass dancing 20154

     YES! Wintergrass is back as usual and lovers of bluegrass and related styles are delighted to be able to enjoy a wide variety of music and make some of it themselves from Februaty 26th through March 1st at the Bellvue Hyatt Regency Hotel, which is such a warm and friendly environment that has served us well as participants and audiences for the past several years with no end in sight. And as usual, much will remain the same and much is added on in order to keep the festival vital in it’s tradition and allow for the essential growth and expansion that keeps us relevant as well as grounded.

 Theme: How Can I Keep From Singing?    

  Over the years we’ve highlighted a number of the instruments and traditions that have made bluegrass such a beloved and vital force in roots music. It’s only natural that the singers of this great music receive their due as a featured portion of a Wintergrass. Well, this is the year for it and do we ever have a list of vocal treats for you!  We’ll feature the high lonesome sound from old-timers, new and exciting takes on traditional songs and contemporary pieces from the younger generation, musical tributes to vocal heroes of our history and a variety of other stunning sounds from many other singers and bands. And of course all your favorite instruments will be on stage all the time, played by many stalwarts of the culture as well as some of the newer contributors that we’ll be privileged to hear and see.

 Let’s Start With Some Legendary Wintergrass Favorites that we’ll always love!  

  Del McCoury: Del is the leading singer in bluegrass (and probably anywhere) of what is known as the High Lonesome Sound. He’s been singing, recording and performing bluegrass with various bands (including his family band with his fabulous sons) for about a half century and has established himself as a giant of bluegrass culture and a performer who’s shows are required viewing for anyone serious about bluegrass as a musician of fan. He’s sung this music almost everywhere and always left his audience feeling much better when they left than when the arrived. At this time he’s in semi-retirement, will perform only 8 shows all year, and has picked our festival for one of them. Can we really afford to miss it?  

   Aofie O’Donovan: Aofie is a Wintergrass veteran despite being relatively youthful, having appeared several times with the immensely popular and excellent Crooked Still, who filled the auditoriums and dance halls of the festival time and again with an amazingly eclectic repetoire covering all sorts of music and subjects. They were never really true grass but fit into the culture via the variety of acoustic instruments and related sounds and were enjoyed by a wide variety of our clientele. since the group disbanded she has offered her singing talents to several other projects including Irish song and folk/jazz. This year Aofie will perform a solo set and will write and perform with the Wintergrass Youth Orchestra.   

   Mark O’Connor: The phrase child prodigy was made to describe someone exactly like Mark O’Connor. He was found to be immensely talented as a kid, was brought along as a public figure who could play as well as the adults and became a star before he could vote. Since then he’s only added on to his talent, credentials and overall repetoire and is considered to be one of the most important artistic figures in roots music of any kind. He also champions an expansion of all kinds of music so that an artist may feel free to express themselves exactly as they feel at the time rather than be hog-tied by an old tradition that refuses to budge. Mark will be at the festival on Sunday to play a set and write and perform with the Youth Orchestra, BUT he will also be conducting a 3 day seminar that is new to the festival and which will be discussed below.    

   Laurie Lewis and Kathy Kallick: Laurie and Kathy were early converts to the bluegrass tradition and so many years ago met and played with many of their heroes. They formed an early all women’s bluegrass group, the Good Ol’ Persons (which later added a token male) and became popular at folk and grass festivals and coffee houses of the day. They both went on from there to form various bands which were always excellent and popular and have also kept their friendship alive for over 40 years. At this time they will be treating our audiences to a tribute set for Vern And Ray; A vocal duo who were an early source of inspiration. This will include some of the finest and most loved songs of Americana culture and will be entertaining as well as historically relevant: A treat for old, new and in-between grassers. In addition, Laurie brings her band, The Right Hands, with partner Tom Rozum, which will deliver a fine performance from an expansive grass and related repetoire. Whether it’s vocals, fiddle of anything else Laurie delivers the goods. Who wouldn’t want to be there for it?      

  I suppose we could have a Wintergrass without Darol Anger but (in the words of many a gangster who wondered about a confederate who he wasn’t sure he could trust) why take a chance! He always brings something new and exciting and pleases our audiences with music that almost always expands the scope of what roots and bluegrass are and offers food for our musical consciousness. This year his group is Mr. Sun; A supergroup which will offer an instrumental and vocal mix of jazz and grass that will compliment the traditional offerings and will also be writing for and performing with the Youth Orchestra. The combination of all the above legends is more than enough to merit a sold out weekend, but there is so much more that makes this festival so important and all the prices seem so reasonable.

 And The Hits Just Keep On Coming!  

    What a blessing to have so many fine performers from all over the  bluegrass and geographical map to share the various stages over 4 days! Della Mae, also Wintergrass veterans, are a 5 woman band with local roots; Dale Ann Bradley and her band play traditional grass and she’s no stranger to best vocalist awards; Faast and Blair play what they have dubbed, “Extreme Bluegrass” which dcribes their music and feeling on traditional, original or pop tunes; Jeff Scroggins and Colorado present a great mix of old and new songs; The Steel Wheels have a marvelous lead singer and infuse their trad. and folk roots grass with a magical feeling and shape note influence; True North from Oregon offers diverse and intelligent songwriting featuring the vocals of Kristen Grainger and super hot interplay from the band; Patchy Sanders is a 7 piece jam band that features original material; Pearl Django is the much beloved gypsy Jazz band whose hot licks relate to the bluegrass music that didn’t even exist when Django made his reputation; Jamie Stone, a Canadian banjo player will present the Lomax Project; Preserving and performing songs from the Alan Lomax collection that has been instrumental in preserving our folk music heritage;  Cahalen Morrison and Eli West are 2 of the most innovative and subtle musicians of roots music anywhere and structure a sound that is based on bluegrass and old-time but is reflected through a 21st century lens. Their music is instantly accessible and built from simple materials but also seems to transcend it’s base fundamentals; Billy Strings, a wild man of vocal and guitar and Don Julian on mandolin  will present old country songs with very high energy.  And the above acts are not all the excellent performers there are. Come and see for yourself! And if your attendance is predicated on specific performers (or if you just can’t wait) just go to www.wintergrass.com and findit all out.

 How About Some New Learning Experiences.  

mark o conor

     Wintergrass is pleased and proud to announce our first ever teacher training seminar with no less an instructor than Mark O’Connor! In a 3 day session specifically designed for music educators, O’Connor will offer his unique method of stringed instrument instruction and will fit in perfectly with the Wintergrass Youth Orchestra philosophy of bridging the gap between classical and oral traditions. Clinician Patti Hopkins will instruct on Tues. & Wed. before Mark appears on Thursday for a special lecture , demonstration and performance. Mark believes that a new American classical music is evolving because students do not wish to be left out of the great sound and energy of folk and jazz music simply because they desire to be great classical players. And he’s definitely right! Why should anyone have to choose one music at the expense of another for any reason? This seminar aims to bring teachers and students close together and help to create musical generations that will have a more holistic world view of playing and performing music then now exists in many places. The seminar will include 15 hours of instruction on the evenings of Feb. 24th and 25th, a full day on the 26th,  the O’Connor method books 1 and 2 and will cost $340.  For any other information you can go to the Wintergrass Web Site: www.wintergrass.com. No matter how much a music teacher knows there’s always room for expansion and when you can learn from one of America’s leading lights why pass up the opportunity?   

     Also new on the educational front is Joe Craven’s half day session on Creativity on Thursday morning, the 26th. Here’s his take on it; “I define creativity as ‘The Pursuit Of Possibility or Pop!’. I’m driven to help individuals take possession of what they already have and demystify art through self-expression as a daily ritual.” Joe has been instructing at Wintergrass for a good many years, is well known and loved for his abilities and immense good feeling. The cost is $55 and well worth it if you’re feeling stuck or simply want to check out a variety of creative possibilities and feel that there’s so much more out there than you’ve been exposed to so far.  Again, go the the web site for  all the details.  

And That’s Not All On The Educational Agenda.  

Wintergrass students 2015.pg

   Thursday, Feb. 26th will offer a variety of intensives from some of the finest practitioners in the field. Aoife O’Donovan and Sarah Jarosz will present an all day workshop on vocal harmony for $100, Grant Gordy presents an afternoon session on guitar for $55, Tashina and Tristan Clarridge will present another new Wintergrass workshop on fiddle and cello in the afternoon for $55, Phil Leadbetter will teach dobro in the afternoon, also for $55, and Joe Walsh will offer a session for advanced mandolin in the afternoon for $55. There is also an intensive on mandolin for all from Don Julin, but unfortunately for some of you it is sold out. Yes, these sessions are popular so if you’ve an interest now is definitely the time to show it by going to the web site and registering!

 Passing It On.    

   The annual Youth Orchestra presentation, in conjunction with several of our performers/composers/instructors has become one of the most popular staples of the weekend, and no wonder. Lovers of any culture want to offer future generations an opportunity to enjoy the musics (and other things) that have given them so much pleasure and this partnership of professionals and students is a wonderful and rare opportunity to help bridge the gap between classical and oral traditional musics. This year Darol Anger and Mr. Sun, Aoife O’Donovan & Sarah Jarosz, Matuto and Mark O’Connor will be composing, instructing and playing with middle and high school musician/students from 3 schools as well as individual youth who wish to be a part of it all. There will be rehearsals in February (dates to be announced) and also on February 28th from 9:30AM to 1:30PM and culminating in a Grand Ballroom Performance on Sunday, March 1st. The cost is $100 per student and includes a pass for the festival on Saturday and Sunday. In addition, parents of orchestra students are eligible for a discounted parent Sunday pass. A good deal all around and for any other information just go to www.wintergrass.com as usual. 

 Will There be the usual free workshops that come with a ticket?    

  Yes, Yes, Yes!!!   All day Friday and Saturday morning a variety of sessions on a variety of instruments and other related subjects will be offered and the web site will let you know where and when. Always good to take a tiny bit more musical knowledge home with you than you arrived with.

 Let’s move our feet. It’s good for you.    

   A few years back Wintergrass began offering dance sets and the response has dictated that dance is indeed another festival tradition that you look forward to. This year the Regency Ballroom with come alive with the feet shuffling music of Patchy Sanders, Pearl Django, Caleb Krauder, and the Dust Bowl Revival. On Saturday you may enjoy the Steel Drivers, G-Burns, Matuto and more Dust Bowl. You already know what to do, right?

 So is anyone else making music this weekend?   

   YES!! You are!! You’ll bring that instrument and find more than enough friends (old and new) to play various forms of grass and related musics all over the Hyatt Regency Hotel during all hours of the day and night w/no curfew and no outside interference. And as you know, this is one of the joys of any folk festival, without which it wouldn’t be a real folk or bluegrass festival. The real culture is always about all of us making the music, which in the terms of our individual lives is much more important than being a spectator, no matter how great the performers are. The more of you are hanging out and jamming the happier we are, and the instrument check will be open from early till fairly late each day so you can ditch it when you want to attend a set, meet with friend or just be free of it. Another interesting fact of jamming at festivals is that many musical associations and bands and other kinds of relationships have begun with strangers meeting over jam sessions, becoming friends and eventually learning that they have other interests in common as well. Jamming can be a gift that keeps on giving! AND SUCH FUN!

How Can I Contribute To Wintergrass Besides Simply purchasing a ticket?   

   I’m glad you asked. I can think of two ways. One is to join Acoustic Sound/Wintergrass (Go to web site or there will be ample information at the festival) and by doing so you’ll contribute financially to our survival and also receive all information in advance. The other is to volunteer at the festival. There’s always something that needs doing and for 12 hours of work you can garner a festival pass for the weekend. And like the jamming scene you’ll meet people who may become friends musically or otherwise, Because (at least for me) volunteering for a community festival such as Wintergrass isn’t as much a job for a company as a family of like people who are helping to manifest something that we all love. The more we put in to anything the more we get out of it. Let’s get as much as we can out of Wintergrass in all the right ways.  

Where Can I Stay?    

  The Hyatt is SOLD OUT! That’s that. But the Courtyard Marriott can be reached from the web site or 425-454-5888, the Westin is on our web as well and at 425-638-1000, and the Silver Cloud Inn Reservations Line is at 800-205-6937. There are also other hotels on an extensive list at: Bellevue.com Hotels Page or at: Expedia.com. There’s got to be a place for you somewhere. And you’ll be pleased to know that a cab ride from a mile of Wintergrass is only $5, which is a lot less than day parking at the  Hyatt.

 So, Is there anything else we need to do?  

   Yes there is! You need to be thankful for our sponsors, for they are huge in our ability to put on this high quality cultural celebration year after year. Main on the list are the Hyatt Regency Hotel and the City of Bellevue who make it all possible in the first place. And then we are pleased to have Rayco, Nechville, D’addario, the Washington Acoustic Music Association (WAMA), the Oregon Bluegrass Association (OBA), and the Montana Rockies Bluegrass Association (MRBA) and several others that you will see at booths and around the festival. These contributions are important as we all know and so during the rest of the year when you’re shopping for something for you, or that gift for a holiday, birthday, etc. that is offered by one of the above, kindly remember their contribution to our success and purchase accordingly. The quality is excellent and the return of good Karma is good for all concerned!     

  Well, that’s all folks. All that’s left is to get your situation together and join us for one of the finest weekends of music and cultural education anywhere. See ya there!!    

   (All comments welcome: Percy Hilo: percivalpeacival@gmail.com)                                            

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Folklife Festival 2014: Changes, Non-Changes and India



Article by Percy Hilo

With the arrival of spring we experience expectations of outdoor enjoyment on a variety of levels, and one of the most eagerly awaited is the annual Northwest Folklife Festival and the hundreds of possibilities for enjoyment and participation. This 43rd edition offers more of the same, which is also always different and never fails to entertain, educate and expand the lives of all who become a part of it in any capacity. There are always a few changes to conform to and to exercise new creativity in packaging, and this year brings more changes than usual. SO, before I overload you with the goodies, let me inform you of where we’ll be and not be from May 23rd to 26th.


Location changes

Due to their acquisition by our partners KEXP-FM we will lose the Northwest Rooms, as well as the Northwest Court Stage and the Alki Court Stage. The music and dance workshops have been moved from the Northwest Rooms and EMP Learning Labs to the Armory Lofts (3rd floor of the Armory – formerly Center House). Also, we have a new stage, the Traditional Stage, which will have 80% of the Northwest Court entertainment and then some, and you can expect a wide variety of American, Irish and other traditional forms at this venue.

We also have the Cornish Playhouse (formerly the Intiman Theatre) as a brand new stage this year; it will be the site of many of our music and dance showcases. The Discovery Zone will be expanded in size and activities that will be family-friendly (no Folklife Commons anymore) and the International Fountain Pavilion (between Alki Court and the Fountain Lawn Stage) will serve as our home to the visual arts. The Narrative Stage will be relocated to the JBL Theatre inside the EMP museum and two workshop spaces will be found on the 3rd floor of the Armory in the Center’s newly refurbished conference rooms. The All Ages/All Day program will move from Sunday to Monday and will be held in the EMP Museum’s Sky Church, and will feature the vibrant hip hop community of the Pacific Northwest.

Participant changes

Aside from the changes that will affect everybody there are two important changes for participants to be aware of. Performer registration will move from the Armory to a tent directly in front of hospitality (which is in its usual location), and volunteer check-in will move from the Armory to the Next 50 Pavilion, east of the Center Theatre outdoors of the Armory. And as usual, our resilient groups of participants and audience members will adopt to the changes in a seamless manner and a joyous and expansive weekend of traditional and contemporary folk and folk-related arts and entertainment will ensue to the delight of thousands.


Everything that hasn’t changed will obviously remain the same, but I feel it’s important to assure all of our Folklife Family (and millions of potential family) that of all the non-changes the most important is that of quality. We will continue to offer the very finest examples of folk culture in all areas of the Folklife experience, so if you’re a bit let down by the disappearance of a favorite area or stage, let it go, surrender to the fact that the only constant is change and be prepared to enjoy the 2014 festival as much as any in our 43-year history.

Cultural focus: India and its people

India has a long, colorful and proud history of music, dance, crafts, culinary delights and spiritually enlightening traditions that have remained vital over the centuries for all the right reasons. These ways of living have attracted admirers, collectors and non-Indian practitioners from all over the globe, and Folklife is proud to finally be able to host the colors and culture of India for enjoyment and edification of all. Colors And Cultures of India, on Saturday from 11AM-1PM in the Bagley Wright Theatre, will present an elaborate array of all-ages Kathak Dance, a classical Indian dance style. Music Across India will feature three incredible performances from local players of traditional Indian music and will include a presentation by internationally known artist Priya Raghav and two groups of dedicated young players in the Center Theatre (downstairs in the Armory) on Sunday from 11:45AM-1:45PM.

Later on Sunday, from 5:40PM-7:50PM there will be a Kirtan Showcase (Kirtan is Hindu chanting in call and response) with many of Seattle’s Kirtan singers that will offer audience participation throughout. Bollywood will come into play at the Exhibition Hall on Friday evening from 6:45PM-8:15PM and will feature a gorgeous array of Bollywood Dance. The grand traditional operatic dance ballet Mahishasura Maradini Kuchipudi will fill the Bagley Wright Theatre with lovely music and dance, featuring the internationally known dancer Sri Pasumarthi Venkateswara Sarma from 7-10PM on Sunday. These dance performances will put you in the mood to learn Bollywood dancing yourself on Monday from 1-2PM on the Armory Stage, so that you can take your good times out into the world with you the rest of the year.

And in addition to all this, there will be a festival-long Indian Cinema presentation of many films at the SIFF Film Center from 11AM-7PM every day and a spectacular Indian Fashion Show, Reflectionz, in the Exhibition Hall on Sunday from 5-6PM. The printed program will contain a special icon to mark each India program so that you’ll have no trouble finding them. India is just one more of the annual cultural themes that showcase various parts of the planet, their people and their lifestyles as practiced in the Northwest. Folklife themes enable us to attain a fuller realization of all the varied and interesting people and cultures that exist right here amongst us; they also help us understand that we can add any of them to our own lifestyle without having to travel the world over.

Brand new to Folklife in 2014

Each year brings the joy of introducing new performances to the festival which, when mixed with the usual performances, serve to infuse the festival with new and exciting energy that keeps us vital from year to year. This year we’re excited to be partnering with The Centrum Arts Organization to bring Blues Workshops on Saturday, Sunday and Monday in the Armory Loft from 11-11:50AM, which will exhibit some of the Northwest’s finest blues musicians such as Orville Johnson, Eric Freeman and Jon Parry. We’ll also debut a showcase on Chicano Stories in the Center Theatre on Saturday from 1-2PM, which will feature poet Raul Sanchez and musician Jacque Larrainzar who come from a place to the south where the sun shines fiercely and where they are well-known and respected in their artistic fields. The Diaspora Negra: Afrolatino Showcase (a preview of a year-long project) will take place on Saturday from 2-2:50PM in the Cornish Playhouse (formerly the Intiman Theatre) and will feature music and dance from various groups who are part of the AfroLatino Arts Education Project. These groups aim to preserve the rich heritage of folk arts to be found in Haiti, Peru, Brazil, Cuba and other Central and South American countries as well as ours – where African and Latino cultures mix, create and entertain for the benefit of all. This event should be among the most entertaining and educational events of the entire festival. And for dancers who appreciate Latino culture there is a Latin Dance Party: iA Bailar on Sunday from 7-10PM outside at the Mural Stage and Amphitheatre will feature the Cumbieros, an exciting fusion band rooted in traditional Chilean styles that never fails to get everyone up and moving. This event will follow in the footsteps of Brazilian Showcase Aquarela Do Brazil and combine to provide a day of super exciting Latin American music and dance. That’s just some of what’s new and waiting to be discovered and enjoyed on the Center grounds this Memorial Day Weekend.

Some other great showcases among several dozen

It’s impossible to overstate the importance of the contribution that Pete Seeger made to the folk culture, the peace and justice culture and the planet in general during the more than 94 years he spent amongst us, except to say that it will never be forgotten and that Folklife will do our humble best to carry on his legacy with a weekend-long tribute. A special tribute sing will be held on Monday from 1-4PM at Fisher Green and will feature Tom Rawson, Peter McKee and Jean Geiger among others. Tom will also present a Children’s Pete Seeger Sing Along at Cornish Courtyard on Saturday at 2PM and Mckee will present Pete: The Songs and Times of Pete Seeger on Saturday at the JBL Theatre in the EMP at 12 noon. And you can be assured that Pete will appear in many places and in many different songs and situations over the weekend as we join the rest of the world in remembering and passing along his noble legacy in the hope that it will continue to entertain, educate and help heal our beautiful yet ravaged planet.

Scandinavian culturists will be pleased with a music showcase on Saturday from 11AM-1PM in the Cornish Playhouse, and there are dozens more that would take up way too much space and include almost every facet of Northwest folk culture. For example, Friday will offer a Rhapsody Showcase on the Traditional Stage from 7-10PM and a Honky Tonk Show at the Fountain Lawn from 6-9PM, Saturday has the Fiddle Powerhouse on the Traditional Stage from 11:40AM-1PM and the annual much beloved Maritime Showcase, also on the Traditional Stage from 3-6PM. Sunday offers Sounds From the Gramophone at Fisher Green from 1-3PM and a Liar’s Contest in the Armory Loft from 3-5PM, while Monday presents a Ukrainian Showcase in the Exhibition Hall from 1-2:30PM and a 206 Zulu Showcase at the EMP Sky Church from 4-6PM. As I’ve stated, these are but a few of many dozens of fine showcases that will reveal the excellence and expansiveness of folk culture in our region.

But that’s not all for the musical sets

The showcases are attractive and well put together by dedicated practitioners, but there is so much more to our musical program! And by that I mean all the varied and meaningful individual and small group performances. These friends, neighbors and fellow Northwesterners (and beyond) are mostly non-professional at their music and play for the love and enjoyment they derive from it and to share it with their friends. Most of them hardly ever play out and Folklife gives them a rare (sometimes only) opportunity to share their skills and feelings with the greater community. It’s only fitting to pick out a few that you resonate with and include their music in your weekend. And the individual sets will offer at least as much variety as the showcases.

Yes, bring your own instrument!

Why let all the programmed players have all the fun? Folklife is about participation and not just as part of some of the showcases. There is always ample room for jamming, many others looking to jam, and an instrument check in the hospitality room that opens early and closes late so that you won’t be burdened with the extra weight of your instrument when you want to see a performance or simply stroll around. WE WANT YOUR MUSIC, whether you’re on the schedule or not, and it’s also an important addition to the overall quality and mission of our festival.

The Discovery Zone

This new family-friendly hands-on activities area is important because it allows for the entire family to play and enjoy together! There’ll be Games of the World, Ropeworks, Toy Boatbuilding, Making Your Own Mosaic, Make & Take Pop-Up Puppets, a Seafair Milk Carton Derby and the innovative early childhood music education program, Little Wing. And that’s just the off-stage doings. The stage will offer a Jumpworks show, a Kaleidoscope Collective, a Magic show, Singing Games for All Ages, North African Songs in French and a bunch more. Not only will families love it all, but it will enable a more complete understanding of our culture and possibly serve as groundwork for children in the workings of folk arts and crafts so they won’t have to start from scratch later in life (as I did). The Discovery Zone is as important as any stage or theatre at the festival.

Do you wanna dance? I thought so!

Dancing will be everywhere at the festival, including showcases, individual performances and participation. Participants will find square, contra, Cajun/Zydeco, swing, African, Latin American, Nordic, Balkan and other forms available in the Fisher Pavilion (Warren’s Roadhouse) and demonstrations of dance styles from the world over as well as belly dancing will be presented primarily in the Exhibition Hall and the Armory Stage but also at the Mural and other venues. Like the musical sets, it would take forever to mention them – but suffice it to say that dance lovers will have no excuses for not getting their fill. And what’s more, we simply couldn’t call in a Folklife Festival without you!

Give it up for our vendors

Crafts people are as creative as our musical and dancing performers and it’s important to realize that their contribution to folk culture is equal to all other creators and instructors. And unlike most of the performers, many of our vendors make a full or partial living from their art or craft and have to pay for their booths. SO why not have some empathy for the interesting, colorful and homemade creations that always brighten up the vendors’ walkway as well as other portions of the festival and purchase that functional and beautiful item that attracts you or that graduation, birthday or anniversary gift that you’ve been looking for from one of our own. It’s in the spirit of the Folklife Mission and is a win/win for both crafter and buyer.

What makes Folklife possible?

Well, lots of things really, but when it comes to labor, volunteer help makes or breaks it, as with almost any other event of this kind. Volunteers are needed to fill more than 1,000 shifts over the four days as well as pre- and post-festival work and since this is a community event, we the people are charged with the task of doing the work at all levels. And the excellent news is that it’s much more than a job. In fact, it’s a family working together in a good way for the best of reasons. I’ve found in almost 30 years of volunteering for Folklife that it’s a labor of love that enables people who have one thing in common to meet and discover that they have other things in common as well. Many fine relationships of various kinds have begun through the avenue of volunteering for Folklife and there’s also much satisfaction in working for something we really believe in. So why not be in touch with our volunteer coordinator, Christina, at 206-684-7326 or christina@nwfolklife.org and get the ball rolling. You’ll be glad you did and so will we. Welcome aboard!!

So what else makes Folklife possible?

You knew I’d get around to the financial matters at some point, didn’t you? Well, love may make the world go ‘round but money puts food in your belly and keeps the Folklife engine revved up as well. We have a great relationship with the city of Seattle and Seattle Center but do not receive financial help from them. We do have some sponsors for our stages but that’s just the staging. We also have expenses for sound, infrastructure, production crew and staff, and a number of other smaller but still significant bills to pay. And since we’re a people’s community event, we, the people, have to take on the task of making up much of the million dollars a year it takes to keep the festival alive. SO we ask for your donations at the gate as well as your philanthropy the year round (Friends of Folklife, etc.). We understand that times are tight and that you will already be spending money for the festival in other ways, but your donations at the gate each day you attend and for each member of your party will go a long way (an awful long way) toward making our favorite yearly event possible for next year and many years in the future. After all, shouldn’t our children and grandchildren have access to the same joyous weekend that we’ve been able to enjoy? We’re always sensitive to your conditions and so we ask only that you give what you can, and many thanks for that in advance.

So there you have it. Another fabulous full weekend of creative, meaningful and just plain fun stuff to enjoy and work at together. We welcome you and all your loved ones to share the joy. Meanwhile, a happy spring to all.



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Wintergrass 2014


Victory Review column: February 2014


by Percy Hilo


Once again it’s time for one of the finest bluegrass festivals anywhere, and right here in Puget Sound as usual. Yes, ‘grassniks and all other interested parties, Wintergrass will begin its third decade of arts and entertainment in the beautiful, spacious and accommodating environment at the Bellevue Hyatt Regency Hotel from Thursday, February 27th thru Sunday, March 2nd and will provide more than enough good times for everyone. Many of you already know this, but there’s always room for new bluegrass lovers to climb on board. And with so many new performers this year we’re expanding our universe and offering much more for Wintergrass veterans to enjoy as well as providing newbies a wide variety of past and future favorites. BUT FIRST, let’s get some basics out of the way.

The website is www.wintergrass.com, and it’s there that you can get answers to some of the questions that may be on your mind. The Hyatt is almost certainly sold out for rooms (this is true every year – you’ve got to be an early bird) and the website will have a list of various other possibilities. It’s also the place to go to buy tickets (which are probably going very fast, as usual), register for an intensive or register a child for youth programs (all  educational programs require an additional fee) and preview the schedule of performances and workshops. Of course, you’ll also find contact info in case you still have a question or two.



Another area of the website has volunteer applications, and I’m mentioning them separately because our volunteers are so very important to the success and continuation of the festival. In a very real sense, Wintergrass couldn’t possibly exist without all the helpers in every area imaginable. The on-line application lists all the jobs available and the hours they’re needed as well as the amount of hours required to be a volunteer and gain access to the entire festival. If you love Wintergrass and want to help out, or if you’re poor and still want to get cultured up, or if you have specific skills that would benefit the festival we’d love to hear from you. If you have a need to be included and haven’t been receiving enough yeses in your life, applying to be a Wintergrass volunteer will serve as a temporary remedy and also enable you to meet kindred spirits with whom you may find other endeavors in common and form relationships that go far beyond a simple weekend of good culture and enjoyment. I’ve found in my 16 years of volunteering that it’s more than a job, it’s a joy and has always made its own contribution to the high quality of my experience. I believe the same will be true for you.



A large attendance goes a ways toward a successful festival, but in almost all cases (including ours) sponsors are an integral part of the equation. We need them, and fortunately we have them. Better yet, most are already bluegrass admirers and active in the local music scene above and beyond the mere business of providing for our musical needs. D’Addario, Rayco Guitars and Northfield Mandolins are helping us out, so when you’re shopping for products that they carry why not give them the business and let them know that you appreciate their contribution. We’re also proud to have Orvis Sporting Goods and Hale’s Ales on board, so now you can buy that uniform, glove or whatever from Orvis to play with (or have your kid play with) and after playing or watching go to Hales and relax with a brew. We’re also most humbly grateful to the City of Bellevue for being with us and the Hyatt for more than just the accommodations – they’ve been into our mission from the beginning and have always made us feel right at home.




Of course you would, and we couldn’t possibly be more in favor of that. It’s not a folk festival of any kind unless there are ample spaces and opportunities to join with old and new friends and share the pleasure of the culture while making your own good time. This jamming is exactly what separates folk cultures from classical, jazz and other forms in that not only can you do it too, but including the common folk picker and singer is what our culture is really about. There are plenty of performances and we know you’ll catch (quite) a few, but it’s a more complete weekend when you make your own music as well as watching the pros do it. For myself, as I ramble about the hotel I notice that the overall atmosphere is always higher when there’s lots of jamming in the lobbies along with the scheduled performances. And the instrument check is open long hours so you can ditch that thing when you want to. So why not travel from workshop to lobby to venue and receive the full treatment?




It’s not enough to simply enjoy a festival. We always want to take something new home with us, and not just CDs or good memories. We want to learn something new, however small, that will help us expand our house of music and open the door to possibilities beyond what is currently in our bag. This is a universal desire, and Wintergrass has been on board since the get-go. Let’s start with little people! The Youth Academy is for 7-14 year olds, focuses on beginning and intermediate players and culminates in a main stage performance on Friday evening. The Wintergrass Youth Orchestra is for middle and high school string orchestra players and provides them the opportunity to play alternate styles of music under the direction of American Strings Association President Bob Phillips. They will learn arrangements from Vasen, The Kruger Brothers and Rushad Eggleston and will perform with them at the Sunday morning concert. PintGrass is for 4-6 year olds who are musically inclined, and Youth Academy Teacher Training is for skilled players ages 14-21 to encourage showmanship, ensemble work and prepare for teaching possibilities. The children are always the future and we do what we can to prepare them for it. As previously mentioned, these classes require an additional expense and all information is available at www.wintergrass.com.

As for you big people, workshops on a wide variety of instruments, vocals, songwriting, forming bands, business acumen and so forth will be held all day Thursday the 27th and Friday all morning and early afternoon. If you desire more than just a general session, a number of intensives will be held on Thursday and be taught by some of our excellent performers. Among them will be vocal harmony with Tim & Mollie O’Brien, mandolin with Emory Lester and Nyckelharpa with Olov Johansson. The regular workshops are part of your purchase of a festival ticket; the intensives cost $55 for 6 of them and $100 for harmony and songwriting. And of course the website will reveal times, prices and rooms, etc. So we hope that as many of you as possible will add a new piece of knowledge to your festival experience, and in doing so become a more complete player and cultural practitioner than before.




I know, I know. You’ve been reading paragraph after paragraph wondering when I’d get to the stage acts, but it was worth the wait. Our theme, The Power Of Interaction and Collaboration, relates to several acts that have been prepared solely for Wintergrass or are a partnership of various players who are on vacation from regular bands. Chris Thile received a large genius grant and has taken time off from The Punch Brothers to compose and form a temporary duo with fellow mandolin giant Mike Marshall, which should be delightful. Another temporary act will be Tim O’Brien and Darrell Scott, who will present a songwriter/singer/instrumental set. Another Punch Brother, Chris Eldridge, will team with Julian Lage for a jazzy set with two guitars. Beats Workin’ (Prairie Home Companion’s Peter Ostroushko with locals Mike Dowling, David Lange and Cary Black) will present new works commissioned by Wintergrass specifically for this festival, and Ramblin Rooks is a 4-piece configuration featuring already renowned players such as Don Rigsby and Kenny Smith. These are all “temporary” acts and will give attendees the privilege of enjoying some music that may never be played anywhere else. This is a rare blessing and could make for unique memories.

Another way of making sure that scheduling doesn’t get stagnant is to invite new bands to the festival and I can’t recall a year when so many new musical spirits have been with us. Town Mountain is a young ‘grass quintet that has been named the IBMA’s (International Bluegrass Music Association) best emerging artist of 2013. Dailey & Vincent are graduates of the Doyle Lawson school of gospel and tight harmony and will bring a 7-piece band with them. Elephant Revival is a youngish band of guys and gals who bring a washboard and clogs, among other treats. The Milk Carton Kids are two young singer/songwriters who have wonderful harmonies and a Simon and Garfunkel-like feeling. Mark Johnson & Emory Lester are a banjo/mandolin duo and we will get to hear Clawgrass, an original banjo style that Mark created. Front Country is a California 5-piece that features fine originals, excellent versions of standards and includes the likes of Utah Phillips in their repertoire. The Lil’ Smokies are a jamgrass band from Montana who take a bluegrass base and have fun going so many places with it. The Scott Law Band is a 3-piece featuring David Grisman’s son Sam on bass and Jack Dwyer on mandolin – they play Scott’s originals. Ricky Gene Powell & Acoustic Laboratory present a set of mixed ‘grass and swing. And finally, Top String (three of them named Top) are a 4-piece family band who are former Youth Academy students who’ve graduated to our stages and give evidence of the purpose and quality of our Wintergrass Youth Education Programs. It’s hard to imagine how you’ll be able to wrap your head around all this new, beautiful and exciting music but we’re sure you’ll find a way!

And of course we always welcome back our many veteran musician friends who’ve brightened up our stages for all these years. The aforementioned Mike Marshall/Chris Thile and Darrell Scott/Tim O’Brien are already worth the price of admission. Vasen with its beautiful Nordic tunes and The Kruger Brothers’ instrumental originals with a ‘grassy feel are always a welcome change of pace. So is the incredibly unique Rushad Eggleston with his solo cello (vet of several Wintergrass bands), made up languages and dancing; he’ll be doing workshops as well as Youth Orchestra. Joe Craven is another amazing multi-instrumentalist whose stage setup looks like a garage sale; he is always entertaining as well as a fine teacher of our youth programs. The Duhks are a high-energy band that features many originals and powerful lead vocals in a stage act that is just plain fun. Modern Grass from Nova Scotia plays traditional ‘grass and swing and was well-received in their 2012 Wintergrass debut. Matuto, who was also a success in last year’s debut returns with high-energy Brazilian songs with a ‘grassy feel. Mollie O’Brien is always a vocal delight and has Rich Moore in tow (also a workshop on harmony with brother Tim). The Cleverlys offer humorous and entertaining ‘grassy versions of pop songs. The Barn Door Slammers are a 7-piece swing band from Oregon who’ll play the dance stage only. Downtown Mountain Boys are a local first-rate, high-energy quintet with great vocalists and soloists who always entertain. And Kevin Pace & the Early Edition are a 5-piece from eastern Washington who’ll play a gospel set at the Sunday morning concert. To find out just who’ll be on which stage at which time, all you have to do is go to www.wintergrass.com and it’s all there. And as usual, you can close your eyes and point to anything on the schedule and know that it’s first-rate and up to Wintergrass’s exacting standards for bluegrass and all-around excellence in entertainment.

So there you have it – an unbeatable weekend of bluegrass and related cultures that will make for a jolly good time and many a fine memory. Save your money, make sure your instrument is in shape, get on the website, get there early and stay late. We look forward to seeing as many of our extended family as possible for our musical/cultural gangbang and social, and we’ll be doing all we can to make everything as convenient and wonderful as possible.

(All comments welcome. Percy Hilo, percivalpeacival@gmail.com and 206-784-0378.)




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Jeannine Hebb: Whileaway
Produced by: Patrick Ermlich & Eshy Gazit
Released: 2011

Jeannine Hebb 1014_KCFE_chuck3_t607

Jeannine Hebb began her music career at the age of four when she worked out the tune of Don’t Cry For Me Argentina on the living room piano while listening to it as the only song on her grandmother’s music box.

As an only child, and being shy, she spent much of her childhood writing her own songs while learning piano developing her singing voice, and was touring with a professional musical theater group by the age of thirteen. Stage was the place where she felt comfortable with herself. She went on to Berklee College of Music and graduated in three years at the age of twenty.

Along the way she won several awards, including the recipient of the Frank E. Remick and E. Ione Lockwood awards for excellence in music and vocal performance and the Susan Glover Hitchcock scholarship for outstanding musicianship. She also received the Scott Benson scholarship for songwriters, the highest honor in the Berklee songwriting department, when she graduated. After that she moved to New York City where she released her first EP, Too Late To Change Me.

She has been compared to singers and songwriters from Laura Nyro to Carole King and her style contains influences from jazz, blues, and rhythm and blues, and she blends them together well.

The album contains quite a few other musicians including herself on voice piano, with additional musicians on guitar, pedal steel, bass, drums, violin, viola, and cello, although the piano is the featured instrument which is understandable since she is the piano player, and she does an excellent job at it. But is her singing that really carries the album.

The production and arrangements are excellent as is her performance. She has a beautiful voice that is full and rich and well suited for the style of music on the album. The songs are about heart break but done in a somewhat upbeat manner making the album more light-hearted and very enjoyable to listen to. The song I Believe has this in it with lyrics that might sound rather downbeat but are sung beautifully:

If I believe
What everybody’s telling me
Surely you would disagree
With everything I’ve heard
Can I take your word

And the song Back to Me Again is very upbeat and fast paced and really showcases her great voice:

Say what you want
But leave my heart
I need all my precious heart
And I know you can’t be trusted
With my mind
And it’s twisted all the time
Wrapped so tightly I might die
Any time you so desire

Her voice and songwriting are impressive and so is the album.

Review by Greg Bennett


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Not At War

Marye Lobb: Not At War

Produced by: Self Produced

Released: March, 2012


This is another album by Marye Lobb and her bio.

Marye Lobb was born in the Midwest and raised in Rochester, New York. She apparently got the urge to travel the globe and after doing so ended up back in New York playing in clubs in New York City. She apparently did a lot of traveling in Ireland, Norway, Brazil, Argentina, and Chile and there are influences from all of those sources but the main style is Bossa Nova.

She has a beautiful voice and the arrangements compliment her voice very well. She has toured extensively throughout the United States, Chile, Brazil, and Greece. Her site also describes her as having Quaker and Buddhist ideals at heart, and putting herself Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA.

She released this album, Not At War, in March of 2012. The Bossa Nova style is still the main influence in her music as she talks about being at peace with and proud of who you are. As on her first album she wrote all of the songs except one, Blackbird by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, she spent Spring 2012 touring the U.S. and is now back in New York City working on new material.

In her notes on her web site she seems to be reflecting her state of mind in giving out thanks. In her own words, Thank you to my friends and family for being so supportive and encouraging while I worked on this – it means the world to me! A very special thank you Kathleen for providing me with a home and place to focus while I worked on this project.

Thank you to the LobbMob and my New York City family for being my cheerleaders.
Thank you to Meditation, Central Park and bike riding for keeping me calm.
Thank you to New York City for always challenging me, inspiring me and keeping me creative.

I am “NOT AT WAR” with myself anymore. To all the listeners out there that I have yet to meet and those I already know: I hope this album helps you to find “home” inside yourself – wherever you may be. xo marye

Both albums can be found on iTunes. The title song, Not At War, illustrates some of this.

3am. There I am, lying there, rememberin’

I was all, that you told me to be.

Too many nights. Too many days. Too many hours.

Too many ways. To listen to words that were not my own.

I’m not at war with myself anymore.

I’m not at war with myself anymore.

I’m not at war with myself anymore.

I’ll let it be what it is.

I’ll let be what it is.

I’ll let it be what is is.

What it has to be.

What it wants to be.

What it has to be.

What it needs to be…

Let Go shows the difficulty she may have had in finding peace and not being at war with herself any more.

I didn’t wanna let go. Didn’t wanna let go. Didn’t wanna let go. Didn’t wanna let go.

I didn’t wanna let go. Didn’t wanna let go. Didn’t wanna let go. Didn’t wanna let go.

I didn’t wanna let go. Didn’t wanna let go. If this is our last night, then hold me in your arms real tight.

Right now I gotta break free. Take a good look at me, look at the shape of the ship that’s pointing out to sea.

But I don’t wanna be me. I’m scared of what I might see. I’m too afraid to let go of what I already know.

I don’t wanna let go. I don’t wanna let go.

Hold me. Hold me.

I don’t wanna let go. I don’t wanna let go.

Give me some space and time, I promise you that we’ll be fine.

I gotta find a way to be myself again. I gotta find my way back home.

As with her first album the singing and performance are excellent as well as the material, and is very well performed and arranged.

Review by Greg Bennett



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A Killer’s Dream

Country -Blues/ Singer/Songwriter

“A Killer’s Dream”

Rachel BrookeRachel Brooke


The project opens with a bit of a nod to Patsy Cline or many of the late 50’s early 60’s female contry vocalists, heavy reverb pours through the speaker, then goes over board and Rachel Brooke takes the reigns and a country blues shuffle leaps out of the system.  The musicianship is undeniable and though a throwback to another time, it’s also a creation of its own.  The first cut is so cool you have to continue the listen.  The second track is a complete departure from the first tune and invokes New Orleans or ragtime on a some sort of steroid.

This artist isn’t playing, she’s done her homework and has drank long from many wells, that’s just the writing portion, the production and vocal styling is familiar, but about as far from Nashville as we are from Jupiter.  Brooke’s ability to wrap her complex lyrics around the tune and production is like watching a tight rope walker.  The use of instrumentation in the second cut is amazing, the mix is perfect.  The third cut is so 1950’s that I have to check the PR again to make sure this is a current recording and it is.

The work is produced by Brooke’s and Andy Van Guilder who also recorded and mixed.  The supporting players are plentiful and each add to rather than take from the work.  Van Guilder’s did a fabulous job of placement in each tune and the overall vibe is true to certain era’s, but between the two have created a new view at the old art form known at Country Music.  There are moments that harken back, but always a new twist appears in either lyrical or vocal performance.  The arrangements of instrumentation alone are worth the listen.

Brooke’s is a singer’s singer with a wonderful range and ability to rock out or yodel with the best of them.  The sixth track is a perfect example of this and Brooke’s proves herself to be a generous artist sharing the tune with Lonesome Wyatt on this tender ballad.

This is a very strong departure from what we know, expect or recognize from artists considering themselves Country, Brooke brings it all back to where it started.  She is standing alone, probably at the bottom of a very steep hill, but she’s not playing it safe following the herd, she’s blazing her own trail.

If you like the blues, country or straight ahead rock this is a project that will delight and make you re- consider where the art form has gravitated towards or from in the past twenty years.  What we hear out of Nashville is rock, Brooke’s is giving back to the likes of the artists that were at the Ryman for their turn on the Grand Ole Opry stage.  If listened to Brooke’s is revealing the genre of the 1930’s with a twist that appears to be new, but comes from a long tradition.

This piece of work is amazing, entertaining and filled with tunes that writers would die for.  Rachel Brooke is an individual in an art form that is filled with artists that are indistinguishable from one another.  Country ain’t that anymore, but Rachel Brooke brings it all back home in a huge mirror called,

“A Killer’s Dream”.  Do yourself a favor, google her, listen a bit, then buy the darn thing.

Review by Christopher Brant Anderson





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John Mayall

John Mayall at Jazz Alley July 12, 2013 9:30pm

John Mayal


We arrived with time to find our seats and order a drink.  The room is laid out so that the stage is in the center against the far wall, the green room under the stairs, at the opposite side of the room.  John Mayall and band appeared shortly after the scheduled start, walked through the room and lined up against the wall behind the stage without fanfare.

Introductions, notices of pending shows took a short time, then the band took the stage.  The house was full.  The band was composed of the following musicians:  John Mayall from Manchester, England on keyboard, guitar, harp, vocals – Rocky Athas from Dallas Texas on guitar – Greg Rzab from Chicago on Bass – Jay Davenport from Chicago on drums.     

John’s hair has gone white, he wears it medium long, and wore it this night in a ponytail, he was wearing green plaid shirt and jeans.   Others in the band were dressed similarly, in a casual way.

Stage and gear:

  • John was at front center stage behind a keyboard,
  • the drummer just behind him – Jay played a dark purple set of Pearl drums
  • bass to his right – Greg played what looked like a Fender jazz bass
  • guitar to his left – Rocky played a sunburst Les Paul through a red knob Fender Twin, also an unusual choice (may have been a rental) .
  • John played one of his trademark minimalist guitars, the body just large enough to support pickups and bridge, using a Roland jazz chorus amp; played harp through his vocal mic (both these choices are somewhat unusual).

The songs

1st Nothing to do With Love

2nd May Dell

3rd Dirty Water

4th so many roads by Otis Rush

5th long gone midnight from blues for Laurel Canyon

6th Oh pretty woman Albert King

7th gimme one more day

8th Chicago Line from 1st album

9th you know that you love me

11:05 – 1 hour 20 minutes, standing O, 1 encore

The vibe:

The approach was more about presenting songs than a showcase for chops, though when called for, chops were present in spades.  Rocky’s amp sounded hard and bright to me at first, but his unerring touch and taste had me setting aside my concerns and just enjoying his playing. Greg and Jay were mostly in supporting roles throughout, but when they took solos near the end of the show, they showed their reasons for being chosen by John Mayall.  Not a lot of stories or banter between songs, but the band clearly enjoyed playing together.

Before playing an encore, John encouraged audience to attend other of his shows, and promised completely different sets for each (he has the history to draw from).  He is set to return to Seattle in January for a harmonica blowout.

Mr. Mayall will be 80 years old in November: he, of course, has aged since the days of the Bluesbreakers, but still looks vital.  He moved and played and handled himself as a younger man; here’s hoping we have him and his music for a long time yet.  I would add:  All-in-all, a fine show by a legend in the blues world who is still vital and passionate; if you get a chance to see him, don’t miss it.

Review by Steve Peterson, Laurin Gaudinier for Victory Music

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Paul Benoit – “Ragepickers”



Paul Benoit


This recording burst out on the first track, “Bloom”, with a driving acoustic guitars out front, then the strong clear vocal wraps around the lyric exclaiming as the blues always does, a nod to the opposite sex.  The comping guitar riffs,  as the lead guitar are strong with shades of the  blues and rock.  As a player you know you’ve had a good listen when you want to pick your axe and join in or find a groove as deep to emulate. Benoit lays back with the second track, continuing the acoustic bed of acoustic guitar, then the rhythm section drives this lament called, “ Don’t Hate Me” but allows Benoit’s lyric and vocal to clearly speak.  The lead guitar once again never over powers the main riff, it is as it should be, the spice to the track.

The production and mix on this work is a consistent portion of  the work, Benoit’s vocals and lyrical content are important to each track, care was given to this aspect of his work.  Benoit & Blake Harkins co-produced the work at Lost & Found Studios, in West Seattle.  Benoit is no novice at his craft and has assembled lengthy relationships with those he records with.

For the past twenty years he has used the same supporting players on his projects, his mates, sidemen, collaborators are tight and a testament to the vested time put into the sound as a unit. Benoit’s rhythm section is Tige Decoster holding it all down on bass, Dan Weber on solid as well as tasty drums while Hugh Sutton is behind the keyboards. Benoit’s guitar work drives or lays the foundations for the production and tunes. Benoit’s lead work is very tasty, mature and compliments never distracts from the rest of the production.

“Ragpickers” the title tune of the disc is Benoit’s break out track from the first two tracks with a great shuffle feel.  Benoit’s vocal work is very strong on this tune, but the lyrical content is so strong it’s difficult to say which is really shines brighter.  The arrangements are all tasty, but this track breaks away, this tune illuminates a master in his element.  Tunes like this just don’t come along every day.

Benoit does not rest on his laurels, each track has a different feel, based in the blues.  Some of it takes me back to the hey day of several artists, but pigeon holing this artist would be a mistake.  Sutton’s work on fourth track sets up the tune, the lead guitar is like butter, it just flows.  These are some tasty players working behind Benoit’s tales and solid vocal work.

Had a brief conversation with the  artist and he said his next project was going to be a bit more Folk/Americana, I can tell from his acoustic work that this would be a natural path for him to take, but this cat wraps around the blues so well, one can only hope that he puts this thinking cap on again.  The acoustic guitar work in “Black Bag Blues” is as smooth and cool as any player I have ever listened to and worth the price of admission alone.

Benoit’s take on the Delta influence leaps out on the following track as does his time spent cultivating lyrical acrobatic work from the likes of Dylan and other contemporary artists.  “But Not You”, would be another argument for Benoit to come back to this well and drink again,  the genre needs writers and players who take two art forms and creates a third. Few do it these day, the formula is found and then it’s variations on a theme.  This work is dripping with authenticity.

Original work is rare these days, Benoit creates vibes that are at least ten miles thick.  He synthesizes blues, rock and pop, coming out the other side with a profound work, that could be as  commercial as the day is long. This artist excels at lyrical content, his vocals are in the pocket, the players support Benoit’s work with reverence, the mix, production and mastering are as accessible as this artists heart and soul are.  Good work!

Review by Christopher Brant Anderson




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Tommy Emmanuel – Close to You

This is the reason we play, pure joy. To watch Tommy in concert or studio is pure joy.  As one of the world’s top guitarist he shows us what the acoustic guitar is capable of and what we can accomplish with the desire, time, and perseverance to become a great player.  Like you, Tommy started out playing at home and after a while knew he wanted to perform for an audience.

Our Victory Music open mic’s are the perfect venue for doing just that.   We host  all levels of players so don’t worry if you’re just starting out because all are welcome and appreciated.  Take a moment to watch Tommy and come and perform with us soon.

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