Saturday morning and it’s time to go… to The National Folk Festival in Nashville, TN! Sorry for the Jack Johnson lyric reference. I couldn’t resist, even though I probably should have. It was 100 degrees in Nashville this past Saturday, which made it one of the hottest days of the summer and a difficult day to perform outside for the dozens of artists on the seven stages under the sun. The free festival took place at the Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park and featured a variety of performers and artists from different cultures and heritages. This is the 73rd National Folk Festival that presents “the folk and traditional arts that are rooted in and reflective of the cultural life of a community.” The festival featured multiple genres of artistic activity including music, dance, crafts, and oral expression. It’s a celebration of America’s cultural roots featuring over 250 traditional artists that express their art in different ways. What an amazing concept! Maybe this video will give you a better look at the overall idea.
I know the video was kinda lame, but it’s definitely interesting to see all those artists in one place. This was an amazing opportunity to see art and music that you don’t typically see at major venues. The music is all historically part of todays pop culture, but you would never hear most of the deep-rooted cultural stuff on the radio. We’re talking PBS special at the most. However, it was a fairly eventful day of visiting different stages and learning about the variety of folk music that exists within the city.
The most interesting part of the day for me was watching the World Percussion Traditions group perform. They had percussion from Japan and North America. It was bizarre at first to hear string instruments from Japan play with drums from the Middle East, congas, and a keyboard, but it sounded cool. Then there were other acts like The Holmes Brothers that brought some great old time, gospel-style R&B music to the stage. These guys have kept the tradition of their music for so long, and it’s nearly the same style as when they first started playing in 1978. Talk about not selling out! That’s some dedication right there. They have won countless awards and have shared the stage with many of the other greats in blues and soul music. Hopefully that can provide some encouragement to those up-and-coming artists out there to stick with what you love to play, even if it’s not Top-40 music. Allow me to leave you with a fine piece of entertainment. Sit back and relax as The Holmes Brothers join Willie Nelson for “Opportunity to Cry.”
The National Folk Festival will be held in Nashville for the next two years, so if you missed it this year, be sure to check it out in 2012 or 2013!
By Steve Harpine | Nashville Ambassador | @Steve_MWL | Beat-Play, Music Without Labels, LLC