The Richmond Folk Festival has brought world class musicians to the City of Richmond since 2005. It is a FREE event and attracts thousands of people to Richmond’s riverfront (Brown’s Island and environs) to celebrate the richness and diversity of America’s culture through music, crafts, dance, storytelling and food. It also provides an excellent opportunity to experience music and performances that are not commonly seen in Virginia and to appreciate different musical styles.
This year’s festival takes place October 9th-11th and features an amazing mixture of performers such as:
Hip hop legend DJ Grandmaster Flash from New York, NY, best known for “The Message” and his work with the Furious Five. (We have several CDs, DVDs, and other resources featuring his work or information about it in our collection.
The Cambodian American Heritage Dance Troupe will perform in elaborate costumes with traditional instrumental accompaniment. You can find assorted resources to help you learn more about Cambodian classical music and dance in the library and online.
Feedel Band, an Ethio-jazz band from Addis Ababa via Washington, D.C. Ethio-jazz is a fusion of traditional Ethopian music with jazz, funk, soul and Latin rhythms.
Grupo Rebolu is an Afro-Colombian ensemble that plays a mix of indigenous, African and modern instruments and sings in Spanish. Their music is rooted in traditions of the Caribbean coast of Colombia and dancing is encouraged!
If you’re into Celtic music you can see performances by The Alt, a trio of master Irish musicians. The group takes its name from The Alt, a storied glen on the slopes of Knocknarea in County Sligo, said to be the final resting place of the ancient Irish warrior-queen Maeve.
In honor of the Richmond Folk Festival (and in case you can’t make it since it’s happening during Fall Break), the Parsons Music Library has created a small exhibit featuring examples of the types of music that you can find at the Folk Fest this year as well as some examples of specific performers that will be attending. Items include books, CDs and DVDs. You can check out the exhibit in the library through the end of October.
We also have an assortment of streaming audio from musicians participating in the folk festival that can be accessed if you are a UR Student, Faculty or Staff Member. You will need to sign in with your UR email address and password to access most of our streaming content.
Sacred steel is a musical style and African American gospel tradition that developed in Pentecostal churches during the 1930s. Per the Richmond Folk Festival’s website: “Named for the metal bar – often made of steel – that players slide over strings to vary the pitch of notes, steel guitarists have provided the driving musical force for spirit-filled church services for nearly eighty years. The signature sound remains one characterized by single-note passages that uncannily imitate African American vocal styles. This unique musical tradition, rarely heard outside the church before the early 1990s, has since captivated the ears of the nation and world. Among the finest ambassadors of sacred steel are the Campbell Brothers.”
Here is a link where you can hear some of their music: https://newman.richmond.edu/login?qurl=https://search.alexanderstreet.com/view/work/385813
Schooled in Texas blues by her father and raised in Harlem, Shemekia Copeland creates music that reflects gritty urban realities and weaves together blues, soul, and rock and roll.
Here’s a link to some streaming audio of her for you to enjoy: https://newman.richmond.edu/login?qurl=https://search.alexanderstreet.com/view/work/2130437
You can also have a listen to streaming audio by artists like rockabilly icon Sleepy LaBeef or out of this world big band free jazz groups like the Sun Ra Arkestra (which bears the name of its founder and bandleader, Sun Ra, who named himself after Ra, the Egyptian God of the Sun, and claimed to be from Saturn!).
The Richmond Folk Festival offers something for everyone and is well worth investigating further either by attending the FREE event yourself or by visiting the music library to learn more about resources that we offer relating to it!