Montana Folk Festival names first seven

Blues, bluegrass, gospel, Cajun and Cuban jazz artists head to Butte July 12-14

New & Notable

The Montana Folk Festival recently announced the first seven performers coming to the 2019 festival, July 12-14 in Butte.

This year, 21 groups representing a diversity of musical and cultural traditions will perform on the festival’s six stages in Uptown Butte. This year’s event marks the ninth year of the Montana Folk Festival, following its first three years as the National Folk Festival.

“In this 12th year, everyone planning to attend, no matter how well they think they know this festival, should come expecting to be amazed,” says festival director George Everett. “This first set of performers only represents one third of those who will be performing. We’re just getting warmed up, so check our Facebook page – mtfolkfest for the latest developments.”

Here then are the first seven performers confirmed:

Montana Folk Festival: Eddie Cotton
Bluesman Eddie Cotton: impassioned, soulful vocals and biting guitar

Eddie Cotton Jr. was born the son of a preacher in Jackson, MI, and began playing guitar at age 4. He attended Jackson State University, where he majored in music before he began playing professionally at local clubs. He eventually formed The Mississippi Cotton Club, powered by his impassioned, soulful vocals and biting guitar. The band won the 2015 International Blues Challenge (IBC).

David Davis and the Warrior River Boys have long been recognized as modern leaders in traditional bluegrass. Their musical playbook reflects their energy, commitment and pure bluegrass spirit. Davis has deep musical roots, with his uncle Cleo having been an original Blue Grass Boy with Bill Monroe. He grew up steeped in bluegrass and early country music; he joined Garry Thurmond and the Warrior River Boys in 1982 at the age of 21 and by late 1984 accepted the role of bandleader.

Since then, he and the band have appeared in 46 states, all Canadian Provinces and the Bahamas.

In 2014, Davis was inducted into the National Old-Time Country Music Hall of Fame; he was the recipient of the National Old-time Country Music Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award in Music in 2016; and in 2018, he and the band produced a project to bring back to life songs of the 1920s: “a marriage of old‐time tunes melded with bluegrass instrumentation, rhythm, and harmonies.”

Gerardo Contino y Los Habaneros mix musical styles from their home in Cuba with the diversity of sounds they encountered when they made New York City their home. The band is comprised of a young generation of Havana-trained musicians, including director and singer Gerardo Contino, artistic director and pianist Axel Tosca Laugart, and percussionist Yusnier Sanchez Bustamante. They’ve released to albums, Somos Latinos (2013) and Los Habaneros NYC (2018), and were named best band in Manhattan in 2015 and New York City’s best Cuban band in 2017.

Kyle Huval and the Dixie Ramblers play heavy-hitting dancehall Cajun music in the spontaneous style of the 1960s and 70s. Huval strives to deliver a sound that’s a joyful throwback. There’s virtually no electric bass but choke chords played by Josephine Vidrine create a rhythmic thud and stabilizing dance beat. Joel Savoy and Mitch Schexnyder’s twin fiddles add a luscious layer of harmonies and an occasional screaming high note. And Huval himself delivers a multi-prong threat on accordion and steel guitar, while paying homage to the classic Cajun vocalists by singing in a classic high lonesome, somewhat restrained style.

Straight Allons, their second release, finds the band tighter and livelier than ever before, with new songs in the Cajun French language interspersed with a few standards and even a Jim Croce song, which somehow fits right in.

Montana Folk Fest: Felipe Hostins
Felipe Hostins of Brazil shares his genius on accordion.

Felipe Hostins of Brazil shares his genius on accordion. The young artist specializes in Forró, Sertanejo, Música Gaucha and Chamamé but is credited with “having an entire orchestra in his accordion.” He’s accomplished in virtually all genres of music, including country, jazz, bossa nova, classical, world, electronica, and more. Hostins has toured and recorded in Brazil with some of the greats, and collaborated on projects in the U.S. since moving here in 2015.

A natural composer, he is currently finishing his first original album, Origins, with collaborations from artists around the globe. He co-created the duo Forrópera with mezzo-soprano Chrystal E. Williams, which combines Brazilian and classical music.

Cora Harvey Armstrong grew up singing gospel with the Harvey Family singing group, founded by her mother and including Cora and her sisters. “When I was coming up my mother was a real big fan of Mahalia Jackson and the Clara Ward Singers so that’s a lot of the music I heard around the house,” says Armstrong. “She and Daddy both used to sing in the choir at church so they knew all the hymns.”

Richmond-born musician and producer Bill McGee has described Armstrong as “Aretha Franklin on piano, Mahalia Jackson with her voice, and Shirley Caesar with her style.”

For the songwriter, vocalist and minister, music is still a family thing. At the Montana Folk Festival she’ll be joined by sisters Clara and Virginia and nieces Kimberly, Ruthy and Clarissa. The group is rounded out by bassist Juan Nelson and drummers Kevin Jackson and Cora’s great-nephew Davin Jackson.

While her nieces convinced Armstrong to update the group’s attire, the sound remains traditional gospel. “I’m a fan of singing music that says something, so people can leave with a good feeling,” she says.

Carl & Buddies will bring Waila music to Montana this summer for the enjoyment and dancing pleasure of audiences at the Montana Folk Festival. Waila (derived from the Spanish bailar – to dance) is the energetic social dance music of the Native American peoples of the southern Arizona desert. Its home is the Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community and Gila River Indian Community. Also referred to as chicken scratch, the vibrant melodies of saxophone, accordion, and electric guitar glide across the solid backbeat of bass and drums performing polkas, schottisches, and mazurkas.

For details about the Montana Folk Festival, visit or on Facebook at mtfolkfest.