Vieux Farka Toure

More than 30 World Music Acts Scheduled for Richmond Folk Festival

Vieux Farka Toure
Vieux Farka Toure
The Richmond Folk Festival organizers announced the final line-up for the 2008 inaugural event, taking place October 10-12, 2008 on downtown Richmond’s riverfront. More than 30 performing groups are scheduled to perform on seven different stages throughout the festival. Groups most recently added to the line-up feature everything from go-go to gospel; polka to salsa. The 2008 festival will also feature a reggae band – a first for the festival in the three years it’s been in Richmond.

The final line-up for the Richmond Folk Festival will feature E.U., one of the best go-go groups on the East Coast. Out of Washington D.C., this legendary group epitomizes the go-go sound invented in the United States’ capital with its call-and-response vocals, heavy percussion and serious dose of funk that creates an unrelenting groove. The Richmond Folk Festival is also excited to announce that one of its own will be featured at the even. African-American gospel group, Larry Bland and the Volunteer Choir will take to the stage for a much-anticipated Richmond reunion choir in celebration of the group’s 40th anniversary.

From Webster, Texas, Mark Halata and Texavia, will introduce festival-goers to Texas-Czech polka. This uniquely Texas take on the polka tradition blends Tex-Mex, Czech and western honky-tonk into a highly danceable and joyous music. Rooted in Afro-Puerto Rican musical tradition, Plena Libre, a powerhouse group that has emerged as one of Puerto Rico’s hottest dance bands, brings the irresistible Latin dance music of Puerto Rican salsa, bomba and plena.

Organizers of the Richmond Folk Festival are thrilled to welcome their first reggae band, The Itals, from Kingston, Jamaica. The Itals is made up of roots reggae legends, who combine soaring three-part harmonies with socially conscious lyrics and danceable grooves. And From the coalfields of Eastern Kentucky comes the Lee Sexton Band, one of last great Appalachian banjo players and singers of his generation.

The 2008 festival will showcase a young sensation, Sharde Thomas & The Rising Star Fife and Drum Band, from Sardis, Mississippi. The 18-year old Sharde Thomas breathes new life into the venerable and nearly lost African American pre-blues tradition of fife and drum that she learned from her famous grandfather, Othar Turner. James Cheechoo of Moose Factory, Ontario will be performing Cree fiddling. This unique fiddling style of the Hudson Bay area blends Native Cree elements and the music of the Scottish & French settlers in Northern Ontario.

From Bamako, Mali, West Africa, comes Vieux Farka Touré, to play Malian blues. Following in the footsteps of his legendary father, Ali Farka Toure, this master of Malian guitar and desert blues shows the music of his heritage is a living and growing sound. The festival will also feature another Richmonder, finger-picked guitar player, Todd Hallawell, who will team-up with West Virginia flat-picked guitar master, Robin Kessinger.

Grupo Cimarrón comes to the festival from Colombia bringing what’s called joropo music. The cowboys of the Colombian plains created this driving, rhythmic harp-led music, combining centuries-old Spanish, African and New World musical traditions. Rounding out the festival, The Cellicion Zuni Traditional Dancers will bring the amazing dancing, drumming, singing and flute playing of the native Zuni peoples who have lived in and around Zuni Pueblo, New Mexico, for thousands of years.

Featured on the Genworth Foundation Family Stage will be two groups, one with musicians from the Festival’s back yard, and one with musicians from afar. Tamara & The Shadow Theatre of Java will perform the art of Javanese shadow puppetry as practiced on the Island of Java, complete with a gamelan orchestra and traditional dance. Richmond’s own, Drums No Guns, will feature drumming and dance performances on the Genworth Foundation Family Stage, as well as running hands-on percussion workshops with children.

Plena Libre at Shakori Hills 2008. Photo by Angel Romero
Plena Libre at Shakori Hills 2008. Photo by Angel Romero
Previously announced performing groups for the 2008 Richmond Folk Festival include The Dan Tyminski Band, one of the top bluegrass bands in the United States; BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet, one of the United States’ premier Cajun bands and the leading ambassador of Cajun music; Líadan, six young music masters from across the pond in Galway, Limerick and Dublin, Ireland, performing traditional Irish music; Ledward Kaapana & Mike Kaawa, two of Hawaii’s most respected players of the slack-key and 12-string guitar; Howard Tate, performing Soul and R&B; Dale Watson playing original honky-tonk country. Traditional Arabic music performed by the esteemed Nadeem Dlaikan & Friends; Eddie & Alonzo Pennington, from Princeton, Kentucky, performing thumb-picked guitar; Inuit throat singing performed by Nukariik, a sister duo from Ontario, Canada. Eastern European musical group, Harmonia; San Jose Taiko, performing Japanese drum and dance; and the highly anticipated Tezcatlipoca Voladores, performing the “Sundance” which involves jumping from the top of a 90-foot pole and swinging slowly to the ground in circles from the ropes tied to the flyers’ ankles.

The Richmond Folk Festival also recently announced the theme for the 2008 MWV Virginia Folklife Area. Entitled New Neighbors: Common Ground in the Commonwealth, it will explore Virginia’s immigrant culture through the artistry, creativity and community life of new immigrants, highlighting artistic achievement, deeply-held cultural expressions and cross-cultural communication. New Neighbors: Common Ground in the Commonwealth explores a number of traditions – covering a range that extends from the religious traditions of Mexican, Mongolian, and Guatemalan artists to the social musics of Sudan and Indonesia and from the dance costumes of Cambodia and Bolivia to the food ways of Czech, Slovak and German immigrants.

The Richmond Folk Festival will also feature a Traditional Craft Marketplace with more than 20 artisans selling a variety of hand-crafted arts from quilting, lace making, pottery and basketry to furniture creation, instrument making and wood carving. The Ethnic Food Court offers festival goers foods from around the world such as West African, Greek, German, Indian, Thai, Caribbean, and Oriental, along with traditional festival foods for those wary of unique tastes.

Additionally, under the sponsorship of Capital One, the Capital One Richmond Folk Festival in the Schools program this year will take festival performers into 14 Richmond City Schools to ensure that the cultural diversity of the Festival is seen by as many students as possible.

For more information, please visit or call (804) 788-6466.


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