BANGOR, Maine — Three musical artists already booked to play at the American Folk Festival are arriving early to perform Thursday and give music lovers a taste of the upcoming banquet of music, dance, culture and other traditional arts from around the world.
The Marshall Ford Swing Band will kick things off at the Cool Sounds Concert Series in Pickering Square, as part of the the Downtown Outdoor Market, starting at 6 p.m.
Those who like the blues should head to Hollywood Casino afterward to catch Marquise Knox — a 21-year-old blues prodigy — strum his guitar starting at 9 p.m., and lovers of celtic music can walk from Pickering Square to Paddy Murphy’s, where Mary Jane Lamond and Wendy MacIsaac begin at 9:30 p.m.
The Gaelic music, with influences from Scotland and the duo’s hometown, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, is a perfect fit for Paddy’s, manager Andy Day said on Saturday.
“They’re Celtic performers” in an Irish pub, he said.
Lamond sings and MacIsaac plays the fiddle, piano and is a dancer. They have performed together for the past 17 years. They are also folk festival veterans and have six performances scheduled during the three-day gathering. Check the folk festival schedule for details.
The Marshall Ford Swing Band specialises in bringing back the past through old time Western swing music that should get toes tapping. The Texas band also has six performances scheduled during the folk festival, the first at 8 p.m. Friday.
Knox was born in St. Louis and learned to play the blues from his grandmother, with a little help from his uncle, and already has released three albums. He has five folk festival performances scheduled — one on Friday, three on Saturday and a final performance 3 p.m. Sunday.
While the Downtown Outdoor Market and Cool Sounds Concert Series is under way Thursday, beer aficionados at nearby Nocturnem Draft Haus will tap into barrels of sour beers that they have been collecting for their Sour Fest in The Haus, starting at 5 p.m.
The idea for the folk festive preview, dubbed Thursday Night Footlights, came after folk festival representatives brainstormed with local businesses about how to offer the musicians more opportunities to play and attract people to other areas of the city outside of the waterfront, Heather McCarthy, executive director said on Saturday.
“Some fest goers would rather go to a bar — a different venue — and experience the music,” she said.
Also, “we’re bringing a lot of people into town and wanted to extend their visit,” McCarthy said. “We partnered with venues who know about performing.”
The American Folk Festival is in its 11th year on the Bangor waterfront and brings talented traditional arts from around the world for residents of Maine to experience. Expanding the offerings at different locations in Bangor is a natural step, McCarthy said.
“This is the start of a second decade and we’d love to see this continue to grow,” she said.