Folklife "Homegrown" Concerts
A free noon concert series co-presented by the American Folklife Center and the Music Division at the Library of Congress in cooperation with the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage. All concerts are in the Coolidge Auditorium (located on the Ground Floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress). NO TICKETS REQUIRED.
Upper Louisiana French Creole Music from Missouri
Dennis Stroughmatt, born and raised in southeastern Illinois, is an authority on French Creole music and culture of “Upper Louisiana,” aka Illinois, Missouri, and Indiana, which came to the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase. By an amazing string of chance events, young Dennis Stroughmatt came upon the descendants of French Midwestern settlers, and he spent over three years in southeast Missouri learning to speak Illinois French Creole, play the fiddle, and sing many of the traditional songs that have thrived in the region for over three hundred years. He would also go on to live, work and play music in the “Cajun country” of Louisiana, and to study in Quebec, thus completing the circle of French culture in North America. With the blessing of the Creole people of the Midwest, Dennis Stroughmatt et l’Espirit Creole are its passionate ambassadors, expanding interest and excitement in a region that has been, in many ways, ignored by the history books. As a result, the French music, language, stories, and culture once hidden away in the Missouri Ozarks now has a voice in the wider world. As they say in the hills: “On est toujours icitte: We are still here!” Learn more: www.creolefiddle.com
Hālau Hula (Hula School) of Hawai`i Community College, Hilo, Hawai`i
Unukupukupu is the traditional Hālau Hula (Hula School) of Hawai`i Community College, Hilo, Hawai`i . Here ancient dances and songs, rooted in the sacred `Aiha`a Pele (Ritual Dance of Volcanic Phenomena) intermingle with the rigor of academic inquiry. To experience the particular fiery style of hula termed `Aiha`a Pele, one is trained to call up the fire within the body and to dance until sweat shines at the temples and forehead. Under the cultural and academic stewardship of Dr. Taupōuri Tangarōto, Unukupukupu is a community of traditional dancers functionally aware that Hula is one of the world’s sacred dances of environmental kinship and global connections.
Traditional Croatian Singing from Washington State
Ruže Dalmatinke, from Seattle, Washington. Deep passion and intense devotion to Croatian musical heritage have kept the group active since 1981, and have inspired the group's lead vocalists, sisters Binki and Alma, since childhood. Binki Franulovic Spahi (lead voice) and Alma Franulovic Plancich (second voice) lead Ruze Dalmatinke in singing, and are responsible for the group's adherence to traditional purity in their music. From the town of Vela Luka on the island of Korcula, Dalmatia, Croatia, they immigrated with their family to the United States after World War II. Having sung together since childhood, the sisters brought with them their lifestyle of singing, as well as an oral tradition generations old. Their voices are accompanied by instrumentation, adding to the vocal harmonies. The band members, also vocalists, along with Binki and Alma, perform music from the many different regions of Croatia - from the tranquil Dalmatian ballads to the strident melodies of the interior.
French-Canadian Fiddle Music & Songs from New Hampshire
Patrick Ross and Jean Theroux will present a program of fiddle tunes and songs drawn from their French-Canadian heritage. Ross, a frequent winner at fiddle contests throughout Northern New England, is a fifth-generation fiddler. Theroux is a well respected community-based fiddler and vocalist. They will be joined by Dalton Binette and Bow Thayer. All four musicians hail from the northernmost area of New Hampshire, adjacent to the Canadian border, across which people and cultural influences have flowed steadily over the last hundred years or more. The fiddle, accordion, and guitar are the most common instruments used in French-Canadian music. The playing style is spirited and based upon rhythmic patterns of the Celtic world: jigs, reels, and waltzes. However, the music is not exactly Celtic: the bowing style has a different swing and the tunes are ornamented in a distinctive way. Singing in the French language with family and friends is also an important part of French-Canadian musical heritage, and many of the songs are classified as “chansons à répondre,” or “call and response,” a style developed so a large group can join in the fun without knowing all the words.
Flatpick Guitar and Fiddle Music from Kanawha County, West Virginia
Bobby Taylor, Robert Shafer, and Robin Kessinger, three of the Kanawha Valley’s best traditional musicians, have played together over many years at various musical events in the Valley and throughout West Virginia. They were heavily influenced by the musical talents of Clark Kessinger, a world renowned fiddler. Clark Kessinger recorded many tunes on the Brunswick label from 1928 to 1930, and later, five albums in the 1960s. He has influenced a world of fiddlers and musicians for many decades. Clark Kessinger lived near where Robert, Robin and Bobby grew up in the Kanawha Valley, and Robin is his great nephew. This trio uses Clark’s beautiful arrangements as a foundation for the music they play. Just like Clark Kessinger, who used every technique possible, they continue to explore new and exciting ways to play the great old tunes.
African American A Capella Sacred Music from Delaware and Maryland
The Singing and Praying Bands of Delaware and Maryland (Eastern and Western Shore) belong to an African American devotional/musical tradition that is unique to the Delmarva region, probably the oldest living African American musical tradition in Delaware and Maryland. In the past, almost half of the Methodist churches around the Delaware and Chesapeake Bays had their own band. With origins in West African religion, Christianity, and African American ring shout traditions, Singing & Praying Bands developed during slavery. The ministry of the Singing & Praying Bands takes place in host churches, often at a camp meeting after an evening preaching service is over. Members line out a hymn, pray a prayer, and end with a spiritual in which the group forms a circle, marching counterclockwise out onto the church grounds. Since the 1950s, the bands have diminished in number, and the singers have consolidated into one large band comprised of fifty to a hundred active members from twenty to thirty different churches. They come together most Sundays in the spring, summer, and fall, at a different church each week, and hold service there, keeping this tradition alive.
Mexican Trío Romántico from Texas
The Mexican trío romántico consists of three suave male voices backed by two, and sometimes three, guitars, singing romance-drenched lyrics in lush harmony. The style rocketed to pan-Latin popularity in 1948 with the pioneering group Trío Los Panchos. Los Tres Reyes (The Three Kings), known as “the last of the great trios,” epitomize the trio sound and continue to make it a mainstay of Mexican acoustic music. High-voice Cuban singer Bebo Cárdenas joins founding members, brothers Gilberto and Raúl Puente, to show us how, in Cárdenas’s words, “The trío romántico is synonymous with intimacy.” The trio has a new album on the Smithsonian Folkways label called Romancing the Past (SFW40562).
Paraguayan Folk Harp Ensemble from Nevada
The Paraguayan folk harp is one of the most recognizable folk music traditions in South America. Las Vegas resident Mariano Gonzales mesmerizes audiences with his delightful and sometimes surprising repertoire on this handcrafted traditional instrument. Mariano’s career as a professional harpist, composer, and harp maker has taken him around the world and into multiple musical genres, but he remains enamored of the unique and exquisite Guarania folk music of his homeland. Born and raised in Buena Vista, Paraguay, he began playing the harp at the age of five, under the tutelage of his father and grandfather. His passion for music propelled him onto the world stage where he expanded his repertoire to include lively Latin rhythms, free-spirited jazz, and original arrangements of popular standards. Since moving to Las Vegas to tour with Tony Orlando and Dawn, he has generously shared his beloved harp with local audiences in community venues. His solo performances have included concerts at prestigious venues including Carnegie Hall in New York and Suntory Hall in Tokyo.