"Featuring: Indigo Girls, Blind Boys of Alabama, Glengarry Bhoys, Vienna Teng, Martyn Joseph, Richard Shindell, Steppin' In It, Jeremy Kittel, Susan Werner-emcee"
The Ark proudly presents the 28th Ann Arbor Folk Festival, a fundraiser for The Ark. The Festival will return to its home in the newly renovated Hill Auditorium for two fantastic nights of folk and roots music on Friday, January 30, 7 p.m. and Saturday, January 31, 6 p.m., 2004. This year will see more great music than ever before with the continuation of the two-day format, rolled out at the Michigan Theater in 2003.
Whether you're one of their new fans or you've been in the crowd since the very start, it seems hard to believe that the Indigo Girls have been around for nearly 20 years. How have Emily Saliers and Amy Ray been able to inspire the successive waves of young people they've touched and changed? Maybe it's because they make a creative partnership as productive in its own way as was that of Lennon and McCartney. The Indigo Girls are spiritual and they're activist. They're folk and they're punk. They sing about the pain of relationships and about the love that makes for true idealism. And all these ideas are entwined in their harmony singing, which is a wonder to experience. The Indigo Girls headline Friday night's concert of the 2005 Ann Arbor Folk Festival.
The Blind Boys of Alabama
The Blind Boys of Alabama are an American institution, with a 60-year career that had its beginnings early in the era of modern African-American gospel music. Their sinewy harmonies and fiery vocal effects are instantly identifiable, and the sheer spiritual power of their music brings audiences to their feet and touches the soul. Anything can become a gospel song in the virtuoso hands and harmonies of the Blind Boys of Alabama, who search R&B, folk music, and rock for pieces of wisdom that they turn into new gospel settings. They've worked with artists ranging from Tom Waits to Shelby Lynne and most recently Ben Harper, and such is the power of their music that they've turned each of these diverse artists (and many others) into just another member of the group.
The Glengarry Bhoys are a Celtic group with a difference! They come from a unique and fascinating part of the world: Ontario's far eastern end, where Scots highland and French Canadian cultures have blended for nearly two centuries. They sing in English and French, write original songs that draw on their combined musical heritage, and bring it all together in a show that's beyond high-energy. "If these bhoys don't get you a-movin' then your skin's on way too tight," says one Celtic music reviewer.
The San Jose Mercury News likened Vienna Teng to "a child of Chopin and Sarah McLachlan," and she took her first name in adulthood as an homage to the city of Mozart and Beethoven. She writes songs so graceful and memorable that you realize only slowly how confessional they really are. Now in her mid-20s, Teng has been writing songs and playing the piano since she was six and her silvery piano stylings, subtly incorporating New Age and world music influences, seem intricately woven into her soothing vocals. Teng's latest album, Warm Strangers, offers a set of unique acoustic landscapes, each beautifully matched to a little short story in song. "It's easy to think of the people around us as mere objects, cold and removed," says Teng. "Writing songs is my way of breathing warmth into them."
In the U.K. they call Martyn Joseph the Welsh Springsteen, but we haven't seen him stateside since 1993. He's a singer-songwriter (and former championship-caliber golfer) whose contemporary but rough and sincere folk-pop never goes out of style. He's recorded for labels large and small, and he's been on the road for 20 years and just keeps connecting more and more strongly with a whole range of audiences. He writes about love, he writes about dolphins, and he does the best song about working mothers ever composed by a male songwriter. "If the self-righteous sneer of 21st-century irony, trash, and phony celebrity gets you down," says MoJo magazine, "Martyn's questing spirit and soulful muse make a welcome friend on life's journey."
Saline, Michigan's own homegrown fiddle virtuoso just keeps getting better and better. Honestly, if you miss a couple of concerts by this guy, you come back to find he's entered on a whole new stage of musical development. Kittel started out as an extremely youthful denizen of Ann Arbor's Celtic music scene. He added Appalachian styles to his quiver, and then, as a student at the University of Michigan, he became a formidable jazz improviser. He can sit in with just about any group around; last October he held the crowd spellbound with just a few notes as he stepped on stage with the progressive Darol Anger Fiddle Ensemble. And now, he's beginning to cook various traditions into a distinctively personal brew. We welcome Jeremy Kittel back to the Ann Arbor Folk Festival because frankly, we can't wait to hear what the heck is next.
George Bedard & the Kingpins
George Bedard is Ann Arbor's resident guitar genius, a man with the last half century of American musical history at his fingertips. George Bedard & the Kingpins are a rock and roll band in the most transcendent sense of those words--sort of like Lance Armstrong is a bicyclist, say. There may not be an Ann Arborite who hasn't danced deliriously to the music of George Bedard & the Kingpins at one time or another, but if you're coming from someplace else, we're going to give you a little glimpse of the best homegrown rock and roll around. "People in Ann Arbor think everyone has a George Bedard," says Ann Arbor Observer music writer John Hinchey. "But they don't."
EMCEE FOR FRIDAY & SATURDAY
Emcee for both nights of the 2005 Ann Arbor Folk Festival is Susan Werner, a triple threat at folk awards ceremonies with her luxuriously smooth and strong voice (she's a former opera singer), riveting narrative lyrics, and haunting melodies. "Werner writes songs so true, you'll never know if she lived them or just dreamed them up," says the San Diego Union Tribune. Minnesota-to-Philadelphia transplant Werner is emerging as something of a Midwestern Nanci Griffith with her sharp observations of ordinary human beings, generous portrayals of complex emotional situations, and deep love of life."
SATURDAY: "Featuring: Keb' Mo', Richard Thompson, King Wilkie, Kruger Brothers, David Jones, Lynn Miles, George Bedard & The Kingpins, Whit Hill Band, Susan Werner-emcee"
Added by brandonz on December 7, 2004