First Performers Announced For Folk Festival’s Return

SALISBURY – Event organizers have announced the first group of artists who will perform at this year’s National Folk Festival.

In a press conference held on Wednesday, officials unveiled the first eight performers who will be featured at the 79th National Folk Festival, which will take place in downtown Salisbury Sept. 6-8.

This year, Adonis Puentes & the Voice of Cuba Orchestra, Aurelio, Eddie Cotton Jr., Hot Club of Cowtown, Innov Gnawa, Jerry Douglas Trio, Jones Benally Family Dancers, and Yamini Kalluri & the Carnatic Ensemble will join hundreds of musicians, dancers, storytellers and craftspeople in representing the nation’s traditional arts.

From Sept. 6-8, the city will host the National Folk Festival’s second year of a three-year residency in Salisbury. The free event, produced by the National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA), will feature seven stages, continuous performances, crafts, food and more.

“We are incredibly proud of this partnership,” Mayor Jake Day said. “We are incredibly excited, and we are especially eager to put on the sophomore event of the National Folk Festival here in Salisbury, Maryland.”

While more artists will be announced in the coming months, National Folk Festival officials gave community members this week a glimpse of the performances they can expect to see in September.

“I know there were some fan favorites from last year here in Salisbury, but the model of the National Folk Festival is not actually to repeat any artists over a three-year stay at its host community,” NCTA Executive Director Lora Bottinelli said. “It goes through another vigorous process of selecting new artists to come to the host city and to be able to showcase their rich culture.”

New this year, Adonis Puentes & the Voice of Cuba Orchestra, based in Vancouver, will feature Cuban son music propelled by horns and percussion.

“We’re proud to have them,” Blaine Waide, associate director of NCTA, said. “It’s this wonderful, sparkling, energetic music that they are going to be bringing to the festival.”

Waide said the festival will also include performances by Aurelio – a Central American composer, guitarist and percussionist who is a champion and musical ambassador of the Garifuna culture – and Eddie Cotton Jr., a Mississippi-based soul blues guitarist and singer whose style is rooted in the church.

“He’s combining the gritty guitar work we associate with blues with the R&B and soul vocal stylings that comes more so out of the church,” Waide said.

The festival will also feature performances by the Hot Club of Cowtown, a Texas-based western swing and hot jazz trio, and Innov Gnawa, a Brooklyn-based quintet playing Moroccan Gnawa music.

“What they will be doing here is showing that deep root of the Gnawa tradition with maalam Hassan Ben Jaafer on the sintir …,” Waide said, “engaging in call-and-response vocals with the younger members of the group.”

The Jerry Douglas Trio, a Nashville-based band led by dobro master Jerry Douglas, will also make an appearance at this year’s festival.

“He has won 14 Grammys, three County Music Association citation awards, 28 awards from the International Bluegrass Music Association …,” Waide said. “His talents and his tastes are so encompassing and wide-ranging. There’s no telling what kind of collaborations or exciting mixes we will see Jerry engage in.”

Officials on Wednesday also announced a lineup of dance performances by the Jones Benally Family Dancers, a Navaho hoop dancing group, and Yamini Kalluri & the Carnatic Ensemble.

Over a dozen people of different backgrounds, and with a deep knowledge of music and art forms, came together from across Delmarva to serve as the local Musical Programming Advisory Committee, which considers, and helps the NCTA select, the artists who will perform at the National Folk Festival each year.

For more information on this year’s performers, visit The National Folk Festival will also feature individual artists on its social media accounts.

“This is just a taste of what we’ll be bringing you guys,” Waide said.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.