The 11th Annual American Folk Festival on the Bangor Waterfront returns Aug. 24-26. Many acts were entertain crowds during this popular weekend event.
Anah Highlanders, a pipe-and-drum band from Bangor, will kick off the AFF as the parade band. Supporting the Shriners Children’s Hospitals with the motto “We parade so that others may walk,” the band has performed across Maine, New England, and Canada, and appeared at the National Folk Festival in Bangor in 2004.
Marquise Knox is barely 21, but he recorded his first album at 16 and has made a name for himself as a major blues figure. From St. Louis, Mo., Marquise was born into a musical family, and blues is his way of life. Late blues legend Henry James Townsend mentored him when he was a teen, and he’s performed with such blues greats as B.B. King, Pinetop Perkins, and David “Honeyboy” Edwards.
Dale Ann Bradley, four-time IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year, brings bluegrass to Bangor. She grew up in a tar-paper shack near Loretta Lynn’s childhood home in Kentucky; today, she plays a mix of first-generation bluegrass classics, old favorites, and her own new songs, and she often puts her own bluegrass spin on classic and contemporary rock songs.
Marshall Ford Swing Band’s Western swing comes to the Northeast in the style of legendary Western swing musician Johnny Gimble, grandfather of MFSB member Emily Gimble. With the Penobscot River sounding like the Rio Grande, enthusiastic dancers will surely have cowboy boots and ten-gallon hats on, at least in spirit.
Cheick Hamala of Mali, a world-renowned player of the ngoni, will bring his music, the 800-year-old tradition of Griot storytelling, and culture to the Bangor Waterfront. Cheick began studying music, cinema, literature, and theater at Mali’s National Institute of Arts at age 12 and began performing internationally after graduating. His ngoni resembles the American banjo; he learned banjo tunes and picking styles and is now considered a banjo virtuoso.
Franco Fiddle Traditions is a trio of fiddlers. Michael Doucet is a Cajun fiddler, singer, and songwriter, and founder of the band BeauSoleil from Lafayette, La. Daniel Boucher is a young French Canadian fiddler and singer from Connecticut. And Maine’s own Don Roy has been called the “dean of Franco-American fiddling” in our state and also plays guitar, mandolin, and banjo.
DL Menard has been performing since he was 17, in both English and French, growing up on the honky-tonk country sounds he plays so well.
Old Bay Céilí Band, from the Baltimore and D.C. area, plays traditional Irish dance music, inspired by the golden era of Irish-American dance and delivered with a modern energy. The group consists of Sean McComiskey on button accordion, Jim Eagan and Danny Noveck on fiddles, Larry Byrne and Brendan Bell on flutes, Josh Dukes on drums, Matt Mulqueen on piano, and Bob Smith on banjo.
Mary Jane Lamond and Wendy MacIsaac will play Scottish-influenced Cape Breton fiddle music. Mary Jane became enamored with Scottish Gaelic traditions and music while visiting her grandparents in Nova Scotia as a child. Wendy MacIsaac plays fiddle and piano and step dances, having played worldwide and toured with Mary Jane for 10 years.
Aubrey Ghent’s ministry is wrapped around his 38 years of playing the lap steel guitar. A third-generation player, his musical evangelism became folk performances in 1992 when someone referred him to the director of the Florida Folklife Department. Today, Ghent is known as the “Father of Gospel Steel.”
Grupo Rebolú: This Afro-Colombian musical ensemble, comprised of some of the finest Colombian musicians in the United States, promotes the musical traditions of the Afro descendants of the Colombian Caribbean coast. The group believes traditions should evolve over time, so their classic music is infused with the ideas of new generations.
La Excelencia will light up crowds with their modern brand of salsa. This 11-piece salsa orchestra, founded in 2005, has a strong fan base that loves its high-energy musical performances. After the band takes the crowd through a musical journey, encore calls are par for the course.
Otrov plays traditional Croatian string music, including many lute-like tamburicas. The group features Vjeko Dimter on bugarija and guitar; Marko Dreher, brac and violin; John Huckle, brac; David Kosovec, berda; Peter Kosovec, prim and brac; and Kruno Špišic, brac and guitar.
Akwaaba, a Ghanian dance group, features energized drumming, highlife music, and engaging performances. “Akwaaba” means “welcome” in the Twi language of the Ghanian Ashanti tribe. One concert-goer claims that “once you hear their music, you can’t resist to move.”
Dallas Chief Eagle, a Lakota hoop dancer for 36 years, brings his Rosebud Sioux traditions to Bangor. He’s also a storyteller and touring artist and is the director of the Hoop Dance Academy on the Pine Ridge Reservation.
Larry Chance and the Earls will get everyone dancing in true 1950s doo-wop fashion. This band isn’t just a tribute; South Philly native Larry Chance formed his first doo-wop group in the 1950s, and by 1960 it was called the Earls. This band has been rocking and rolling since it was first fashionable to do so.
Thomas Maupin is one of the best known old-time buck dancers in the U.S. Buck dancing is called many things: clogging, flat-footing, foot-stomping, jigging, and many others. All are characterized by enthusiastic footwork emphasizing the music’s downbeat. Maupin will bring his brand of legendary buck dancing to the stage in Bangor.