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 V.20 No.22 | June 2 - 8, 2011 

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What the heck’s a zouk?

The bouzouki, or zouk
The bouzouki, or zouk

Although it sounds like some kind of Dr. Seuss creation, perhaps with a long beak and bright blue fur, zouk is actually two entirely different things. The first is a music style originating in the French West Indies of the Caribbean. The second is a nickname for a stringed instrument called a bouzouki. Of these two lesser-known musical facts, ZoukFest deals solely with the latter. The bouzouki was invented in Greece, where it is still a mainstay of traditional music, but it became popular in Ireland in the mid-1900s. Over time, small adjustments in size and shape were made to the instrument to make it suitable specifically for Irish music. Zouks are popular with the Irish/Gaelic/Celtic music crowd, but they’re also used in other styles, such as Balkan and even some Americana.

ZoukFest starts with a “world music camp,” featuring classes in Irish fiddle, Balkan ensemble, tin whistle, Americana guitar, beginning music theory and dozens more topics—including bouzouki, of course. Attendees register for several weeklong classes, allowing a more in-depth exploration of the topics they choose. The teachers are international musicians, renowned for their Irish folk playing and other traditional skills. Besides classes, the festival schedule holds concerts, dance workshops and céilís—big Gaelic parties with music and dancing. Get your jig on.

ZoukFest Events


Sunday, June 5, through Saturday, June 11, 8 a.m. to 5:45 p.m.

University of New Mexico

See for a detailed schedule.


Friday, June 10, 7:30 p.m.

Irish, Balkan and bluegrass music

Saturday, June 11, 7:30 p.m.

Irish with some old-time Appalachian and French music

The Outpost Performance Space; 210 Yale SE 
Tickets: $15 advance, $20 day of show


Irish Set Dancing Workshop

Saturday, June 11

9 a.m. to noon

Irish Set Dancing involves the traditional Irish social dancing to jigs, reels, slides, polkas and hornpipes.

2 to 5 p.m.

Céili with live music

Maple Street Dance Space

(3215 Central SE)

Sunday, June 12, 9 to 10:30 a.m.

Dance workshop

11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Céilí with live music

Location TBA

Cost: $60 adults, $45 camp students (with active registration)

ZoukFest 2011

Sunday, June 5, through Saturday, June 11
University of New Mexico

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