This week is the second of two installments of our look at the 16 performing acts slated to appear at this year’s American Folk Festival on the Bangor Waterfront. Last week, we featured the first eight; here are the other eight.
Mcauley, Horan and O’Caoimh (Irish): Long-time Solas members Mick McAuley and Winifred Horan have joined forces with guitarist Colm O’Caoimh to form this group. Horan was born in New York of Irish parents; she began playing piano but later took on the fiddle and Irish dance lessons. McAuley was born into the well-known musical family from Kilkenny and has been playing Irish music from a very early age; he’s played the accordion since age 9, and has become one of the leading exponents on that instrument in Ireland. O’Caoimh has been a huge presence on the Kilkenny music scene in recent years and is a founding member of Caladh Nua, where he’s known for his solidly imaginative playing and delicate finger-style.
Prem Raja Mahat (Nepalese): Over the past 25 years, Nepalese folk music has gone from a local phenomenon to a national celebration. Prem Raja Mahat, who grew up listening to and singing the “rural Nepali blues” in Nepal’s west-central hills, is a large part of the reason for the revival and tremendous appeal of folk music in Nepal. Mahat took up his art in earnest at age 12, and many thought being a sarangi-playing singing minstrel was a dead-end career choice. But within 10 years, he had become an icon of his music, as Nepali people embraced their culture.
Qi Shu Fang (Peking opera): Qi Shu Fang has been performing Peking opera all of her life. At 16 she created a stir in Beijing when she played the difficult lead role in “Three Battles with Zhang Yue’e,” to great acclaim. Qi then studied at the Shanghai Municipal Theater School and performed as a lead with Shanghai Youth Peking Opera Company and the Shanghai Peking Opera Theater. After becoming a household name in China, she moved to the United States. She and her husband lead their company nationwide, promoting Peking opera and Chinese culture, and is well received by Americans. Qi has made a great contribution to the cultural richness of American while at the same time building a bridge between East and West.
Rosie Ledet & The Zydeco Playboys (zydeco): This group has quickly become the act to watch on the zydeco circuit. Brimming with coy sensuality, Ledet’s music is fresh and daring while still retaining its links to its bayou Creole heritage. Ledet has a rare combination of talent, not only in the zydeco world, but in any musical genre. Ledet provides a unique female presence in the male-dominated zydeco world. She sings in both Creole French and in English. Her songs are often sly and lusty and, combined with her natural good looks and distinctive bluesy singing voice, she wows audiences wherever she goes.
Samba Mapangala (Congolese): When 20-year-old singer Samba Mapangala boarded the riverboat for Kisangani in 1975, little did he know where it would take him. The young vocalist, one of a quartet of singers in the Kinshasa dance band Saka Saka, was heading with his mates for a tour of eastern Zaire. Soukous, a genre of dance music that originated from African rumba music of the Belgian and French Congos in the 1940s, was all the rage then, and Congolese dance bands were in great demand. The band hit it big. In 1981, Mapangala formed Virunga, named for a volcanic range in Africa. Virunga’s music is an innovative mix of the best rumba and soukous from Congo, infused with earthier Kenyan and Tanzanian styles. Mapangala composes and sings in both Lingala and Kiswahili.
Sista Monica Parker (blues): Sista Monica Parker is recognized for her songwriting, music recordings, powerful vocals, and dynamic performances. She connects and is often compared to legendary singers Etta James, Koko Taylor, Ruth Brown, and Katie Webster — who Parker calls “the mothers of my blues.” Parker was born in Gary, Ind. and lived several years in Chicago before relocating to northern California’s Bay Area in 1987.
Sonny Burgess and the Legendary Pacers (rockabilly): There’s one key point about Sonny Burgess and the Legendary Pacers: They play the music of the Fifties the best because they helped invent it. Since forming in 1955, they’ve played clubs, festivals, shows, and colleges all over the United States and Canada. They were one of the pioneers of rock and roll and traveled with Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley, Danny and the Juniors, Conway Twitty, Patsy Cline, Ronnie Hawkins, Billy Lee Riley, Ace Cannon, Charlie Rich, Teddy Riedell, Narvel Felts, and many more. They were inducted into the Rockabilly Hall Of Fame In Jackson, Tenn. in 2002. They’ll appear at the AFF with the very young piano-playing firestorm Lance Lipinsky. “I was born too late,” Lance says. Maybe he’s referring to the idea that if it was 1958, or even 1964, his songs would be on the radio.
Yves Lambert Trio (Québecois): In 1976, Yves Lambert was one of the founding members of La Bottine Souriante. For 26 years he was a major figure in the band, which was both famous in Quebec, and internationally. Yves Lambert figures among the most influential players in the roots Quebecer revival. He is known for his unique ability to translate anecdotal, poetic or political texts into songs. His work as a songwriter and his capacity to create unique musical moods make him a key figure in folk music production.