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The 42nd annual Folklife Festival will feature a series of evening concerts. All performances are free. This year’s programs are “Bhutan: Land of the Thunder Dragon,” “NASA: 50 Years and Beyond” and “Texas: A Celebration of Music, Food and Wine.”
The 10-day Festival, held outdoors on the National Mall between Seventh and 14th streets, takes place from Wednesday, June 25 through Sunday, June 29 and Wednesday, July 2 through Sunday, July 6. The event is co-sponsored by the National Park Service, and admission is free. Festival hours are from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. each day, with concerts, special events and dance parties extending into most evenings. All of the evening concerts begin at 6 p.m.
“Bhutan: Land of the Thunder Dragon”“Music and Dance from the Land of the Thunder Dragon” will highlight music and dance traditions from the Kingdom of Bhutan. Many of the dances that will be featured date back to the 16th century and will be performed for the first time in Washington, D.C. The performances will take place on the Bhutan Tsechu stage Friday, June 27.
“Texas: A Celebration of Music, Food and Wine”Thursday, June 26, the “Sounds of San Antonio” will kick off the Festival’s evening concert series. Performers include Los Texmaniacs with Mingo Saldivar, who is known for his distinctive twist on the conjunto tradition; Augie Meyers, a Texas musical icon and Grammy Award winner; and Fiddlin’ Frenchie Burke, who blends his Texas and Louisiana roots into fiddle repertoires with his famous showmanship. The concert will take place on the program’s Texas Dancehall stage.
Friday, June 27, the “Texas Songsters” concert will feature four of the Lone Star State’s finest musicians. Terri Hendrix, who exemplifies the long songwriting tradition of the state, will perform with legendary pedal steel player and Grammy Award-winning producer Lloyd Maines. Also onstage that night will be Joe Ely, a formidable songwriter and interpreter of classic Texas music, and accordion king Joel Guzman. The concert will take place on the Texas Opry House stage.
The Saturday Night and Sunday Morning Concert (Saturday, June 28) will feature blues guitarist, songwriter and bandleader Texas Johnny Brown. Brown has toured and recorded with many of today’s greatest blues, gospel and R&B artists. Also performing that evening will be The Jones Family Singers. Bishop Fred A. Jones Sr. leads this quartet-style gospel group, which includes his five daughters, two sons, grandson and son-in-law. The concert will take place on the Texas Dancehall stage.
Visitors should bring their dancing shoes Sunday, June 29 to the Texas Dancehall stage for the Waltz Across Texas dance party. The concert will feature the Gillette Brothers, cowboy singers and poets who celebrate Western music and lore, and Jody Nix and the Texas Cowboys, Western swing musicians who play at dancehalls, rodeos and community events throughout the nation. Also at the concert will be Grammy Award-winner Asleep at the Wheel, a group that has enjoyed nearly 40 years of making Western swing music for audiences of all ages.
The Texas Dancehall stage lights up again with a Texas blues and zydeco dance party Wednesday, July 2. Performing will be Tutu Jones, the son of Dallas-based guitarist Johnny B. Jones, who exemplifies the sound of south Dallas, where blues and soul meet to create a special Texas mix, and CJ Chenier, son of zydeco pioneer Clifton Chenier, who will pay tribute to his father’s music while sharing his own contributions to the genre.
Thursday, July 3, the Viva El Paso: Building Connections with Bhutan concert will bring together Mariachi Los Arrieros, artists from Bhutan Royal Academy of Performing Arts, and artists from the Buddhist monk community at the Texas Opry House stage. Los Arrieros is an impressive 15-member ensemble whose passion is educating young people about the mariachi tradition. Members of the Bhutan Royal Academy of Performing Arts and Buddhist monks will share the kingdom’s folk and ritual dances from symbolic and sacred festivals of the Bhutanese calendar.
The Festival’s evening concert program concludes with a night at the Texas Dancehall stage. The Lone Star dance party Saturday, July 5 will feature legendary songwriter Guy Clark and pianist and singer/songwriter Marcia Ball. Clark has written ballads for Johnny Cash, Vince Gill, Jimmy Buffett and Brad Paisley. Ball mixes boogie-woogie, zydeco and swamp rock into her musical creations.
The Ralph Rinzler Memorial Concert: Grupo Folklorico y Experimental NuevayorquinoSaturday, June 28, the Ralph Rinzler Memorial Concert will take place at 6 p.m. on the Texas Opry House stage. This concert series, held each year during the Festival, pays tribute to the founding Festival director by honoring his colleagues, like-minded advocates and the tradition bearers they have supported. This year, the concert series will honor René López for his work with traditional genres of Latin music.
The concert will feature Grupo Folklórico y Experimental Nuevayorquino. Grupo Folklórico became legendary through its experimental recordings that brought together gifted, obscure elder musicians with deep roots in Puerto Rican and other Caribbean and Latin American communities and bright young musicians who would grow to master traditional musical genres. The group became a major innovator in various Latin and other music genres, and it continues to identify itself and its art as grounded in traditional community-based musical expression and community participation through dance, festivals and religious, mainly Afro-Cuban, practices.
This groundbreaking musical group, mostly from the south Bronx in New York, went on to establish new frontiers in Latin and American music. The group’s musicians reunite at this year’s Festival to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their three watershed experimental recordings from the 1970s.
Smithsonian Global SoundCan’t make it to the Smithsonian Folklife Festival this year? Visit Smithsonian Global Sound’s Web site, www.smithsonianglobalsound.org, from anywhere in the world to watch Folklife Festival performances stream live from the National Mall. Smithsonian Global Sound will webcast live concerts of music from the Festival programs as they are happening. Free music downloads and more information about the musical traditions represented this year also are available at the click of a button. Visit the Web site for a complete schedule.
About the Festival
The Folklife Festival, inaugurated in 1967, honors people from across the United States and around the world. With approximately 1 million visitors each year, the Festival unites presenters and performers in the nation’s capital to celebrate the diversity of cultural traditions. It is produced by the Smithsonian’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. The Festival’s Web site is http://www.folklife.si.edu.
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