55th Annual University of Chicago Folk Festival on February 13-15


folk festival

Celebrate traditional music from the U.S. and around the world at this annual three-day folk festival! The University of Chicago aims to keep the living tradition of folk music alive by inviting some of today’s best traditional musicians. Evening concerts will be held in Mandel Hall. Workshops will be held in Ida Noyes Hall.

About the performers:

Gráinne Murphy and Marta Cook: Gráinne toured for several years with the band Cherish the Ladies with whom she recorded two albums and a PBS special that aired nationwide in the US and in Ireland. She and Marta Cook have been collaborating on a project since they met in New York City and recorded a few tracks together on Gráinne’s album, Short Stories.

The Buckstankle Boys: Hailing from the mountains of Virginia and North Carolina, The Buckstankle Boys come bearing deep connections to the roots of old time and bluegrass. With Wes Clifton on guitar, Seth Boyd on banjo, Todd Hiatt on mandolin, and Andy Edmonds on fiddle, the band carries on the tradition of their native region, particularly through Edmonds connections to renowned Surry County fiddler Brenton Flippen, with whom he performed. Incorporating influences from the old time fiddle styles of Flippen and his group, the Camp Creek Boys, as well as the classic Virginia bluegrass sound of the Stanley Brothers, the Buckstankle Boys perform music that is both familiar and revitalized.

Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton: As Living Blues Magazine put it, “When Paxton sits down to a piano, the spirit of Fats Waller, Art Tatum, and Willie ‘The Lion’ Smith springs forth in a cascade of notes raining from the soundboard. When he picks up the guitar, Blind Lemon Jefferson and Blind Blake are suddenly freed from the crackling Paramount shellac grooves that have imprisoned them for over 80 years. And when Paxton takes up the five-string banjo, the corn liquor-fueled manic urgency of Uncle Dave Macon careens around the room in a dizzying frenzy of old time delight.”

Kody Norris and the Watauga Mountain Boys: If unadulterated traditional bluegrass tickles your fancy, then look no further than Kody Norris and the Watauga Mountain Boys, who make their way to Chicago from Mountain City, Tennessee. 

Mississippi Gabe Carter: Mississippi Gabe Carter does much more than simply imitate the blues masters of old.With his haunting electric guitar tone, Carter adds another layer of interpretation to what used to be called ‘the reals’- a mix of blues and gospel deeply rooted in traditional American music. The resulting music is profoundly uncanny yet surprisingly uplifting, and it is delivered in a manner that strikes close to home, whether that home is on the delta or here in Sweet Home Chicago.

Patt & Possum: Local fiddler Charlie Walden (aka Possum) and his wife Patt Plunkett have been playing music together for over twenty years, and they haven’t missed a beat. Charlie grew up steeped in traditional mid-western fiddle music, picking up the tools of the trade from some of Missouri’s finest old time fiddlers, and Patt’s roots in mid-western traditional musics root equally as deep, picking up piano at a young age at the instruction of her grandfather.

John Lilly: Chicago native currently based out of Charleston, West Virginia, Lilly embodies the image of the songwriter of old: a traveler, accompanied by little more than his guitar and tales of life on the road, and most importantly songs to share them. And indeed, Lilly is an accomplished songwriter, with six albums to his name, featuring tunes in the vein of Hank Williams and Jimmie Rodgers, bringing back to life a tradition of early country music. 

Joe Gurovski: Joe Gurovski has been playing the accordion for over 25 years, enchanting audiences across the Midwest with the sounds of his native Macedonia. Gurovski cites Macedonian musicians Koco Petrovski and Goran Alachki as his influences, yet displays a range of musical mastery that extends across all musical styles of the Balkan Peninsula. Joining him on clarinet is festival alumnus Ljupco Milenovksi, an accomplished musician in his own right, as well as John Parrish on the double-headed drum.





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