Folk music is the beating heart of all cultures.
“It’s the root of all music; it’s the kind of music you could sit down and play long before there was the Internet or television,” noted Jan Crumpley, secretary to the Delaware Friend of Folk.
“We promote folk music because we want people to be able to enjoy it on a family level,” she said.
Fans will get a double-dose of this unique art form this Friday and Saturday as the Friends of Folk present the Delmarva Folk Fest, an annual gathering of folk music artists for folk music fans.
Friday night, the event now in its 26th year, will feature 2016 Delmarva Folk Heroes, Hootchi Cootchi, hosting the 11th annual contest that will name their successors. The six acts, Doug Liddicoat, Nancy Huebner, Mike Miller, Tom Hench, Butch & Teri Zito and Nancy Maliwesky, were selected by audience vote at earlier open mic preliminaries.
The winner, who will be chosen by the audience, performs at noon Saturday.
The Folk Festival is a departure from the more intimate coffee house venues served up each month by the Friends, Crumpley said.
“It’s out in the country, on a 20-acre farm,” she said. “The stage is set up in a grove of trees, and it’s very lovely.”
Since it’s outdoors, the walls are the trees, and the ceiling is the tree branches overhead, Crumpley said. The setting really helps amplify the sound, since all of the artists use acoustic instruments, she added.
“The leaves are turning this time of year, and you can really see the colors,” Crumply said.
There’s no permanent seating, although the group has scrounged up a couple of old couches toward which many fans tend to gravitate as soon as they arrive.
“You really can’t count on sitting on them,” Crumpley revealed. “Someone may get to them before you do.”
For those who don’t get there quickly enough, Crumpley recommends bringing comfy lawn chairs. Fans also can bring in coolers filled with their favorite refreshing beverages, although glass bottles are not allowed. Pets also must stay home, although service animals are allowed.
For those who plan to stay overnight under the stars, the venue has plenty of room for tents, trailers and motor homes, she added.
The Folk Festival is a rain-or-shine event; although canopies are provided it’s also a good idea to bring an umbrella.
All Delmarva -- almost
This year’s Saturday lineup reflects the group’s maxim of supporting local music and musicians. With one exception, all performers live on Delmarva.
The headliner and closing act for this year is Bad Juju, a four-member band well known for its combination of old school blues served up with a little bit soul. Their first appearance at the Folk Festival also will be a first for the band: in keeping with the venue, this show will feature their playing only acoustic instruments.
That’s something to be seen just by itself, Crumply said.
Also up is the bluegrass playing, all-female group Driven Women, representing Maryland’s Eastern Shore, playing old-time, traditional folk music; Kent County-based Celtic Harvest and Sand Creek, both of which feature Crumpley’s expertise, will be on hand.
The lineup features lyricist and guitarist Jessica Graae, whose folk-rock style of music has been available on two albums with a third on the way; Bruce Anthony will provide some upbeat jazz followed by the pop-folk of Hot Breakfast and the songs of singer-songwriter-activist John Flynn.
“Hot Breakfast does what they call acoustic dork-rock,” Crumply revealed. “We’ve had them for a coffeehouse, so we know they’re really awesome. It’s just in the way they write their songs; they’re multi-instrumentalists and really high-energy. I don’t know how else to describe them.”
For those wanting to take home a few memories, vendors will be on hand and the Friends of Folk will offer refreshments, coffee, artist-produced CDs and Festival T-shirts.