The Montana Folk Festival recently announced the first seven performers coming to the giant free festival in Uptown Butte, July 14, 15 and 16.
This year, 21 performer groups representing a diversity of musical and cultural traditions will perform on the festival’s six stages in Uptown Butte.
This marks the Montana Folk Festival’s 11th year, following the first three years as the National Folk Festival from 2008-2010.
“In this 14th 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.”
The first seven performers confirmed for the festival are:
Red Baraat: This pioneering band from Brooklyn, NY, has drawn worldwide praise for its singular sound, a merging of hard-driving North Indian bhangra with elements of hip-hop, jazz and raw punk energy. Created with no less a purposeful agenda than manifesting joy and unity in all people, Red Baraat’s spirit is worn brightly on its sweaty and hard-worked sleeve.
High Fidelity: This traditional bluegrass band from Tennessee draws their influence from 1950s and ’60s, a classic era of the music’s history. Formed in early 2014, the group took a first place win in the International Band Championship at the 40th Annual Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America Awards in 2014 and was nominated in 2019 for International Bluegrass Music Association New Artist of the Year. The band consists of five outstanding musicians and singers who are steeped in the sounds of tradition: Jeremy Stephens, guitarist and lead vocalist; Corrina Rose Logston, fiddler and harmony vocalist; Kurt Stephenson, banjo and harmony vocals; Vickie Vaughn, upright bass and vocals; and multi-instrumentalist and harmony vocalist Daniel Amick.
Kiki Valera y Son Cubano: Son cubano is one of the most popular musical styles in Cuba and Kiki Valera is one of its foremost exponents. Over the last century, this style of traditional Cuban music has contributed to many other genres of music including jazz, cha cha cha, mambo, salsa, songo and timba. It’s the music that made the Buena Vista Social Club worldwide stars in the late 1990s. A multi-instrumentalist, composer, arranger, sound engineer and producer, Valera is best known as one of the world’s greatest players of the Cuban cuatro, a mid-size guitar with eight strings grouped in sets of two.
Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Chas: Growing up in a Creole-speaking home in St. Martinville, LA, Nathan eagerly sought out the music of Zydeco originators such as Clifton Chenier. Later, while recovering from a serious illness, Nathan decided to dedicate himself to learning the accordion. That dedication blossomed into an illustrious career, which now spans three decades. Nathan and his band have been featured in the New York Times, Essence and People magazines, and on the cover of USA Today. They’ve appeared in films like In The Electric Mist and The Kingdom of Zydeco, and worked with artists as diverse as Cindy Lauper, Michael Doucet and Buddy Guy.
Heart of Afghanistan with the Fanoos Ensemble: The Heart of Afghanistan project consists of Four Afghan musicians; Ahmad Fanoos on Vocals & Harmonium, and his two sons Elham on Piano and Mehran on Violin, with Hamid Akbar on tabla. Together they will tell the story of Afghanistan from its pre-islamic Buddhist heritage through traditional Ghazals based on the Sufi inspired poetry of Rumi and the ‘Afghan Elvis’, pop icon Ahmad Zahir, of the 60s and 70s who took the music of Elvis Presley and translated it into Dari and performed it with a traditional instrument ensemble. The idea is to give a 360-degree view of Afghan culture through music, poetry, art and cultural heritage.
Ken Heath and the True Disciples: Keyboard player and drummer Ken Heath was raised to the sounds of the gospel music of the Black Holiness Church. He formed his own group, Ken Heath and The True Disciples in 2014, with fellow singers Kenneth “KJ” Jones and Chris Robertson. The trio is joined by Maurice Johnson on drums, Rodney Easter on bass, Joe Brown on guitar, and Bryan Pitt and Justin Brown on keyboards. The True Disciples continue Heath’s deep-rooted foundation in traditional gospel quartet music and attend to their craft with great energy and spiritual devotion.
Musique a Bouches: Vocal ensemble is composed of David Bélanger, Olivier Brousseau, Jérôme Fortin, Sylvain Trudel and Michel Grandmaison, who also brings his personal twist on foot-tapping (podorythmie). Humming with a cappella rhythms of traditional musical arrangements, this quintet is the fruit of years of evolution and brotherhood and sets itself apart not only with melodious voices and the raw power of their harmonies, but also the camaraderie and humor they share on stage.
Admission is free to all performances during the three days of the festival, although organizers urge attendees to “Kick In” a contribution of $25 per person and $35 for a family to sustain the festival this year and for years to come.
For any supporter who doesn’t want to wait until July to kick in a Donation, they can send contributions by mail to Montana Folk Festival, P.O. Box 696, Butte, MT 59703 or contribute online at paypal.com/us/fundraiser/charity/1876197.
For details about the Montana Folk Festival, visit www.montanafolkfestival.com or on Facebook at mtfolkfest.