By Steven Robert Allen
I'm folk. You're folk. He's folk. She's folk. Folk music, folk art and folk culture can be made and played by anyone. That's the beauty of it. Last year, I had the pleasure of attending the Albuquerque Folk Festival, and I have to tell you I had a sweet banjo-pickin' good time from morning 'til night.
This year, the event will be held on Saturday, June 19, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. at Expo New Mexico (formerly known as the State Fairgrounds). Organizers of the festival encourage anyone and everyone to participate. Workshops on how to sing, dance and play music on all kinds of different instruments occur all day long and are specially tailored for both beginners and crusty old pros.
You can also take in plenty of great live music by the likes of Atomic Grass, Fast Peso String Band, Michael Chapdelaine, Elliott's Ramblers and many other fine performers. Vendors will be hawking everything from grub and drink to books and instruments.
One of the most enjoyable parts of the festival is when people who've never met each other whip out a bunch of random instruments and start jamming together on the grass. This kind of spontaneous musical mixing happens all day long, so don't hesitate to bring your guitar, mandolin, banjo, harmonica, penny whistle, spoons or whatever other racket-making artifact you might have along with you. If you don't feel like lugging your massive stand-up bass around the festival, just drop it off at the instrument check booth.
Tickets are $8 general, $6 seniors, $3 kids 6 to 12, free kids 5 and under. If you buy your tickets in advance, they only cost $5. Call 822-0855 for more information.
Over the last several centuries, countless roving individuals and groups have passed through the Southwest and interacted with native populations. Thankfully, many Anglo explorers left records of their impressions. Figures such as John Wesley Powell, Helen Hunt Jackson and Charles Fletcher Lummis painted, photographed and wrote about the indigenous people they encountered.
Martin Padget's new book, Indian Country: Travels in the American Southwest, 1840-1935 (UNM Press, hardcover, $37.95), compiles many of these documents and artifacts to create a portrait of the Southwest during a particularly tumultuous period in our regional history. Padget will make an appearance this Saturday, June 19, at 7 p.m. at the Petroglyph National Monument's Las Imagenes Visitor Center (4735 Unser Blvd. NW) to discuss his important book. For details, call 899-0205 ext. 337.
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