The first seven performing artists/groups coming to the 2018 Montana Folk Festival in Butte, July 13-15, were recently announced. This year, 20 performer groups representing a broad diversity of musical and cultural traditions will perform on the festival’s six stages in Uptown Butte.
In the festival’s 11th year (the first three as the National Folk Festival and the next eight as the Montana Folk Festival, “people should come expecting to be amazed. This first set of performers only represents one third of those who will be performing. We’re just getting warmed up, so check in at our Facebook page – mtfolkfest – for the latest developments.”
The first seven performing artists/groups confirmed for the 2018 Montana Folk Festival are:
- Annika Chambers, an Army veteran and blues artist from Houston: Like many powerful vocal artists, she traces her love of music back to early childhood. “I grew up singing in the church,” she says. The artist’s meteoric success earned her the coveted nomination for 2015 BMA (Blues Music Award) Best New Artist 2015, and her second release, Wild & Free, debuted at no. 7 on the Billboard Blues chart.
- ShadowGrass, a group of young musicians from Western North Carolina and Southwestern Virginia. Holding true to their bluegrass roots, the band’s fast picking and fresh arrangements have earned them numerous awards in youth and adult competitions across the region. Among other accolades, they were the featured youth band for the IBMA World of Bluegrass Festival in 2016. The band includes Presley Barker, guitar; Kyser George, bass; Luke Morris, mandolin; and Clay Russell, banjo. At the Montana Folk Festival, ShadowGrass will be joined by accomplished bluegrass fiddler Daniel Greeson.
- Wylie and the Wild West, who wowed audiences in 2008, returns to the festival stage a decade later. Gustafson, a native Montanan, is an accomplished singer/songwriter with more than 20 albums and four decades of performing, writing, and recording under his belt. One critic called him, “… the coolest cowpoke around. Forget everything you hate about modern country, this guy is old-school cool without being a tired period piece.”
- C.J. Chenier and the Red Hot Louisiana Band is headed by the son of the great King of Zydeco, Clifton Chenier. His earliest musical influences were an eclectic mix of funk, soul, jazz and Motown, and his first musical instruments were piano, tenor saxophone and flute. It wasn’t until his 21st birthday, after winning a scholarship and studying music at Texas Southern University, that C.J. first performed with his famous father and the legendary Red Hot Louisiana band. Caution: CJ Chenier and the Red Hot Louisiana Band’s performances at the Dance Pavilion at the Montana Folk Festival may result in a massive dancing frenzy.
- Iberi Georgian Folk Choir aims to popularize folklore of Georgia, a country that is famous for its rich cultural traditions, by seeking out Georgian songs, including pagan-era compositions, and bringing them to life in modern times with mesmerizing polyphonic singing.
- The Fairfield Four, a group from Tennessee that’s still singing in the traditional African American a cappella gospel style they’ve been known for since the group’s inception nearly 100 years ago. Among their accomplishments: In 2003, they performed with Dolly Parton on the song “There Will Be Peace in the Valley for Me” from her album For God and Country, were featured on the song “Rock of Ages” by Amy Grant and Vince Gill, and appeared at the end of the film “O Brother Where Art Thou?” and on the subsequent soundtrack release. The Fairfield Four’s own album Still Rockin’ My Soul! was released in 2015, and won the Best Roots Gospel Album at the 58th Grammy Awards.
- The Heron Valley Band, an energetic, young traditional ceilhd band from Scotland. The quintet conveys their unique Scottish sound on bagpipes, fiddle, vocals, whistles, banjo, guitar, piano, and drums.
Admission is free to all performances during the three days of the festival, although organizers urge patrons to “Pony Up” a contribution of $20 per person and $25 for a family to sustain the festival this year and in years to come.
For anyone who doesn’t want to wait until the festival to Pony Up, they can visit www.gofundme.com/2018MFF or send contributions of any size by mail to Montana Folk Festival, P.O. Box 696, Butte, MT 59703. Visit Montanafolkfestival.com.