What can you do at the folk festival? Almost everything. (Within limits, people. Keep your pants on.) The aforementioned question is posed at the top of the online “festival overview,” and underneath is a long list of answers, like sing, dance, learn an instrument, perform for an audience, hear live music and bring your kids. There are workshops galore in everything from contra dancing to vocal harmonies. Have you ever wished you had a washtub bass? Well, you can learn to build your own this weekend. The workshop schedule is extensive. Really, though, the Albuquerque Folk Festival is about music, so if all you want to do is sit around and foot-tap all day, that’s OK too. The schedule of performers is also massive, but here are some of the big names on the ticket.
Carolyn Martin Trio now boasts a more famous titular musician—in May, Martin was inducted into Texas’ Western Swing Hall of Fame. Martin began singing professionally as a child in Abilene. She was a member of The Time Jumpers for 11 years, a Western swing band comprised of Nashville session musicians and singers. The Carolyn Martin Trio plays Western swing classics, but it also branches into other kinds of swing, show tunes and original material.
Singer-songwriter Jonathan Edwards―whom you might know for his 1971 hit “Sunshine (Go Away Today)”―is also gracing the stage. He’s released 15 albums, one of which is a collaboration with bluegrass band the Seldom Scene. Accompanying Edwards’ guitar is fiddle and keyboard player Stuart Schulman, who’s leading a fiddle workshop, and mandolin player Taylor Armerding, who’s teaching a mandolin class.
Los Martinez is fronted by―you guessed it―two guys named Martinez. Brothers Lorenzo and Roberto Jr. formed the group to preserve and promote the music of northern New Mexico. Guitar and violin are popular in the mountains there, and Los Martinez highlights these instruments. Lorenzo is a National Endowment for the Arts Heritage Fellow for his work preserving New Mexico’s violin traditions. Los Martinez performs inditas, polkas, redondos and more.
It’s not only American folk. Local bearer of Balkan beats Goddess of Arno is playing. This quartet of ladies has been exploring the traditions of Macedonia, Albania, Greece and Bulgaria for two decades, focusing on the music and playing styles of the Gypsy people from these areas. Band member Beth Cohen is leading Klezmer dancing with the Rikud Yiddish dance troupe and Nahalat Shalom Community Klezmer Band.
All the way from Virginia comes The Dixie Bee-Liners, a sextet known for vocal harmonies and emotional performances. The group was formed by husband and wife team Brandi Hart and Buddy Woodward in 2002. Lead vocalist Hart plays rhythm guitar, Nashville guitar, fiddle and mountain dulcimer. Woodward, a bluegrass veteran, has performed with John Starling, Steve Earle, Rosie Flores, Jim Lauderdale and many others. He plays the mandolin, guitar, banjo and bass. In 2008, the band was named Roots Music Association's Bluegrass Artist of the Year.
Possibly the most veteran performer to strut her stuff at the festival will be Antonia Apodaca. She was born in 1923, right here in New Mexico, and learned to play accordion and guitar from her parents. Along with traditional songs, Apodaca has composed many of her own about life in this state. That helped her pick up the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts in 1992. Apodaca is playing with the Silver City-based, Southwestern folk act Bayou Seco. Accompanying Apodaca since 1988, the band mixes cowboy songs, double fiddle tunes and northern New Mexico dance music, then spices it up with Cajun influences. During the set, dancers will join them to demonstrate historic Spanish colonial dances.
In addition to the other artists, there’ll be an instrument petting zoo, craft demos and even a performance by acrobatic martial artists. Grab your kids, grab your banjo and head out to the Albuquerque Folk Festival.