From the Dean’s Desk: Folk Festival, Round 2

Our own Dean Christesen is back again offering up some information and opinions on the most recently announced crop of Richmond Folk Festival performers. Come have a look (and listen)…

Editor’s note: As the names of the artists scheduled to perform at the Richmond Folk Festival continue to be released over the coming weeks, Dean Christesen, our main music guy, will be offering insight on these performers and what you can expect when they take the stage. (Be sure to click on the name of each artist to read their professional bios and to listen to sound clips!)

Andes Manta

  • Andean
  • Hudson Valley, New York

Bridging the native music of Ecuador and the Andes Mountains to North America, the four men of Andes Manta each specialize in tons of traditional instruments, such as those that look like panflutes, guitar, mandolin, and an endless lineup of percussion. Bringing the traditional sounds to life in a modern context that seems to share characteristics with Caribbean and Brazilian music, the group is at once a cultural lesson and a testament to how small the world really is.

Watch them on YouTube

Capoeira Luanda

  • Brazilian capoeira
  • New York, New York

Capoeira is as close to dance fighting as you can get. Slaves in Brazil used to practice this dance in the fields to disguise their preparations for fighting, and in the 1860s the Brazilian government sent capoeiristas to the front line in the war against Paraguay. Always accompanied by music (usually the one-stringed berimbau and singing), the acrobatic dancing duos will stun you with their flips and near misses.

Watch them on YouTube

“Fiddle Journeys: 400 Years of Tune Migrations”

Featuring Brendan Mulvihill, Lester McCumbers, Charlie “Possum” Walden and Jim “Texas Shorty” Chancellor

  • Missouri old-time, Texas, West Virginia old-time, Irish fiddle

This group will be an interesting “meeting of the minds.” They all have their own bag, like Mulvihill’s Irish playing and McCumbers’s down-home old-time fiddling, and to see them all collide (read: collaborate) should be a treat. In its various forms of music, the fiddle is often the show stopper, spotlight stealer, and the soloist extraordinaire. Does anyone even know what four fiddlers fiddling sound like?

Watch them on YouTube

Los Texmaniacs

  • conjunto tejano
  • San Antonio, Texas

Ah, the sweet and sentimental Tex Mex style. Not every song might be about love, but it sure sounds like it. Sporting a gentle waltz or polka with graceful vocal harmonies, the accordion and bajo sexto (a guitar-like instrument) of Los Texmaniacs can get a bit sappy before cranking it up into a full-blown jam.

Watch them on YouTube


  • tamburitza
  • Pittsburgh & Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

From Croatia and the Balkans by way of Pennsylvania, Otrov is very much of its region. To the east, you can hear similarities to Turkish and Armenian music, and to the west there’s a strong connection to Greek traditional music. Yet it comes from the hands of six relatively young men (many of whom were born in America) and experts on their stringed instruments. In many cases, the musicians of Otrov practiced and studied jazz and rock before devoting themselves to Croatia’s tamburitza music.

Watch them on YouTube

Rare Essence

  • go-go
  • Washington, DC

Born in the nation’s capital, go-go is funk, hip-hop, hard and driving, loud, filled with call and response and tons of percussion. It’s everything that could possibly get you rowdy. RE is a go-go staple right behind the genre’s godfather, Chuck Brown, so you can expect the real deal from the band that’s right out of the old school hip-hop days of yore.

Watch them on YouTube

Tony Rice

  • American guitar innovator

From Danville (yeah, Danville!) hails one of the greatest bluegrass musicians of all time who has played with everyone important to the genre. He’s noted as one of the most influential acoustic guitar players, and while his voice was quintessential country, he no longer sings due to a condition called dysphonia. Too bad for us, but instead we get to see classic flatpicking teamed up with Peter Rowan.

Watch him on YouTube

Zakir Hussain

  • Indian tabla virtuoso
  • Los Angeles, California

George Harrison. The Grateful Dead’s Mickey Hart. Guitarist John McLaughlin. Bela Fleck and Edgar Meyer. Apocalypse Now. These are all reasons you’ve probably heard tabla player Zakir Hussain but may not realize it. Raised in Mumbai and playing professionally since the age of 12, Hussain is a virtuoso on an instrument that requires years and years to master. There may be no word on who he’ll be performing with, but his quick hands and the many tones of his tabla alone could create quite the masterpiece.

Watch him on YouTube

For more on the Richmond Folk Festival and its scheduled performers, stop by the RVANews Richmond Folk Festival Guide.

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