Our city was in full hospitable force welcoming three days of national and international musicians into our backyard overlooking the north bank of the James River during last weekend's 5th Annual Richmond Folk Festival. An official head count of festival attendees is yet to be determined, but initial estimates are over 200,000 guests; only providing further evidence that Richmond is clearly a music-devoted town. Held consecutively for three years beginning in 2005, the National Folk Festival was held on the Richmond riverfront before moving onto Butte, Montana. Since the festival's departure, the Richmond Folk Festival has continued to celebrate the diverse cultural landscape of our country through the arts of dance, traditional craft, and music. Glowing reports of impressive Folk Festival sets served as Monday morning water cooler conversation. Here's a recap of some of our favorites: Fred Wesley and the New JB’s (funk and jazz) – Legendary American jazz and funk trombonist whose resume includes collaborations with James Brown and Parliament Funkadelic. Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys (bluegrass) – Winner of the National Heritage Fellowship, the highest honor given to an artist by the U.S. government, Ralph Stanley offered his distinctive banjo and guitar playing from Appalachian Virginia. Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Chas (Louisiana zydeco) – Perfecting the art of zydeco is difficult to achieve, but Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Chas somehow managed to do the Cajun music style justice. Lance Lipinsky (rockabilly) – A student of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll acts of the 1950’s such as Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis, Lipinsky with the help of his backing band may have delivered the highest energy performance of the weekend. The breadth of music traditions that were represented at the festival were completely astonishing and it is great to see overwhelming support from the city. The festival is a free event to the public, but donations totaled over a record breaking $106,000! For more information and to see a complete list of the performers, visit the Richmond Folk Festival website.
October 17, 2012 — Mel Calabro