Albanian Folk Music
Albanian accordion player Ylli Brekofca emigrated to the United States in 2016 without his accordion. Ylli had performed on the accordion his father gave him as a teenager for nearly 50 years. He performed, sang, and collected folk tunes from across the country, transcribing more than 400 songs into three handwritten notebooks, organized by region. (Albanian music is a mixture of Middle Eastern, Greek, Roman and Byzantine sounds with styles that vary region by region.)
Portland’s own Shoestring Theatre and Bangor’s own John Bapst Memorial High School music program will team up to provide an exciting new parade experience to open this year’s American Folk Festival!
Starting at 6:00pm on Front Street near the Two Rivers Stage, these talented musicians and artists will bring to life dozens of life-size (and larger!) puppets, plus entertainers and instruments to guarantee that you’ll be caught up in the energy! Follow the parade along Front Street to the Railroad Stage where the first concert of this year’s AFF will begin.
Afro-Carribbean Garifuna Music
The Garinagu people, whose language and culture is called Garifuna, descend from shipwrecked Africans whose ancestry can be traced back to the Yoruba, Ibo, and Ashanti tribes of Ghana, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone. After making their way to Central America, they intermarried with Carib and Arawak native peoples, and came to be known by the British as “Black Caribs.” Their music, dance, food and clothing offers a mixture of African, Native, and Spanish influences that is unique to the Caribbean coast of northern Central America.
Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton
Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton transforms traditional jazz, blues, folk, and country into the here and now. His sound is influenced by the likes of Fats Waller and “Blind” Lemon Jefferson. According to The Wall Street Journal, Paxton is “virtually the only music-maker of his generation—playing guitar, banjo, piano and violin, among other implements—to fully assimilate the blues idiom of the 1920s and ‘30s.”
Rwandan music and dance
Prior to settling in Portland, Maine, the dancers and drummers of Ikirenga Cy’intore performed with numerous award winning and exceptional dance groups in Rwanda. The group specializes in the Imihamirizo dance styles of Kigali, Rwanda’s capital city. Imihamirizo is a hybrid style that combines dances and rhythms from the traditions that exist north, south, east, and west of the city.
The Local Honeys
Kentucky Old Time musicians, The Local Honeys sing with a power and fearlessness that sets them far apart from their contemporaries. Comprised of Linda Jean Stokley and Montana Hobbs with fiddler Megan Gregory guesting for the festival, the group describe their sound as “bluegrass kissing the mountains.”
Kim So Ra
With transfixing power and deft beauty, Korean master drummer Kim So Ra leads an astounding quartet through traditional and not so traditional music.
Jones Benally Family Dancers
Navajo Music and Dance
World Champion hoop dancer and traditional healer, Jones Benally, leads the Jones Benally Family Dancers. The group is three generations of one family who bring the beauty and healing power of Navajo (Diné) culture to educate and uplift people around the globe.
Don Roy Trio
Maine French Fiddle
In honor of their deep commitment to the musical heritage of Maine, the National Endowment for the Arts named the couple 2018 NEA National Heritage Fellows, the highest honor the government bestows on traditional artists. Join us at noon on Saturday at the Railroad Stage for a special set by the trio celebrating this honor.
Colombian Joropo music
Cimarrón performs joropo music from the Plains of the Orinoco River with a global and contemporary sound. Their powerful scenic force achieves a unique blend of its Andalusian, Indigenous American and African roots, with an impetuous and deep ethnic singing, amazing stomp dance and fierce instrumental virtuosity of strings and percussions.
The Campbell Brothers
Sacred steel guitar
The Campbell Brothers present a compelling, rich variety of material from the African-American Holiness-Pentecostal repertoire with a new twist: the growling, wailing, shouting, singing and swinging voice of the steel guitar, played as you have never heard it played before. The Campbell Brothers return to the stages on the Bangor Waterfront, having performed at the 2004 Festival to great acclaim!
Instrumental guitar band
Los Straitjackets are the leading practitioners of the lost art of the guitar instrumental. Using the music of the Ventures, The Shadows, and with Link Wray and Dick Dale as a jumping off point, the band has taken their unique, high energy brand of original rock & roll around the world.
Clad in their trademark Lucha Libre Mexican wrestling masks, the “Jackets” have delivered their trademark guitar licks to 16 albums, thousands of concerts and dozens of films and TV shows. Viva Los Straitjackets!
Ottawa fiddle and step dancce
Meet the Fitzgeralds — a family group consisting of fiddling and step dancing sensations – Tom, Kerry & Julie Fitzgerald. These siblings, from Canada’s renowned Ottawa Valley, have come a long way from their small town roots. Featuring 3-time Canadian Grandmaster Fiddle Champions and Ontario Open Step Dance Champions, this unique act features high-energy fiddling and mind-blowing step dancing. It is the rare combination of exceptional musicianship, incomparable step dancing, audience interaction, evident love of performing, and genuine sibling connection that resonates with audiences of all ages and sets this group apart.
Les Tireux d’Roches
Les Tireux d’Roches — Quebecois cultural ambassadors are revered wherever they perform. Hailing from a region overflowing with creativity, this colourful crew has developed a unique and off the wall traditional style. Harmonica, saxophone, flute, accordion, percussions, banjo, bouzouki, foot tapping and guitar make up the band’s expressive arsenal. On stage at the American Folk Festival, they will dish out effervescent sounds guaranteed to make you dance.