BANGOR, Maine — Since the first round of performers for the 2009 American Folk Festival on the Bangor Waterfront were announced in March, festival organizers have been busy putting the final touches on the rest of the lineup.
According to Heather McCarthy, festival executive director, there are plenty of favorites and a slew of new genres and traditions represented in this year’s crop of artists.
New styles include Bulgarian music from Nikolay Kolev and Bulgarika, Puerto Rican cuatro music from Maestro Modesto Nieves y Herencia Musical, Andean music from Andes Manta, and Joshua Nelson, who sings kosher gospel.
“I haven’t been able to stop listening to [Joshua Nelson],” said McCarthy. “It’s traditional gospel music, but it’s got a Jewish message. A lot of it is sung in Hebrew. It’s incredible.”
Cuatro is the official instrument of Puerto Rico, a four-stringed guitarlike lute that is used for a variety of styles — from more jazz-influenced sounds to traditional folk music. Modesto Nieves is a master of the cuatro, and plays a polyrhythmic, sensual kind of Latin jazz.
Two new performers this year include Gene Tagaban, a performer from the Tlingit American Indian tribe from the Pacific Northwest, and Brice Chapman, a trick roper who performs lasso tricks with his dog Sooner.
“He is wonderful. He’s the best trick roper in the country,” said McCarthy.
Leading the parade this year will be musicians who are closer to Bangor. The Pride of Maine Black Bear Marching Band will perform in the parade each day of the festival.
“A lot of the groups we bring up for the parade, they’ve got tons of stuff to bring with them. It gets expensive,” said McCarthy. “This way, we can highlight a very traditional American style, the marching band, and highlight local musicians. We haven’t found out if Bananas the Bear will be there yet, though.”
Rounding out the new performers are country and bluegrass group the Claire Lynch Band, all-female Acadian quartet Gadelle, soul singer Mighty Sam McClain, tejano group Los Texmaniacs, delta blues master Terry “Harmonica” Bean, gospel group the Paschall Brothers and a group of traditional Chinese musicians.
Fundraising efforts for the festival remain on track, despite the fact that last weekend’s Festival Countdown concert at the Collins Center for the Arts in Orono did not bring in the amount of revenue organizers hoped for. McCarthy acknowledged that ticket prices might have factored into it. If another concert is planned, prices will most likely be lower than $45, and the concert will be earlier in the year.
Otherwise, everything is going just as planned. The layout of the festival will remain the same, and, in another effort to cut costs, the festival itself will run the beer tents this year, instead of having them run by an outside party.
“We are taking responsibility for the alcohol sales, since it won’t cost quite as much,” said McCarthy. “We don’t envision any problems. People tend to come to the festival to enjoy themselves, and not to cause trouble. We’re very lucky in that regard. Everyone just wants to have fun.”