Folk music both contemporary and traditional will fill the air of Downtown Tucson this weekend at the 17th annual Tucson Folk Festival, along with blues, Celtic, bluegrass, folk rock, doo-wop, zydeco, boogie-woogie, gospel and world music.

Sponsored by the Tucson Kitchen Musicians' Association, the festival has become a traditional springtime event in the Old Pueblo, not in small part because it takes place in the heart of the oldest area of the city and is always free.

Activities will run noon to 10 p.m. Saturday, May 4, and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday, May 5. Continuous live music will occupy three stages at El Presidio Park in Downtown Tucson: the Plaza Stage in front of City Hall, the Courtyard Stage at the Pima County Courthouse and the Library Stage, in front of the Main Library at East Pennington Street and North Stone Avenue.

In addition to national headliner Tish Hinojosa, the festival will highlight the talents of blues-folk singer-songwriter Kristina Olsen and the eclectic, Celtic-to-cowboy music duo Small Potatoes.

Also performing will be Texas artists Jedd Marum and Danny Santos (of the Bluegrass Vatos), as well as San Francisco's Christine LeDoux.

Local acts will include Titan Valley Warheads, Stefan George, Nancy McCallion with Grams & Krieger, Ric Shea, Mark Insley, John Coinman, Ross Nickerson, Elise Grecco, the Greg Morton Trio, Ken Tucker & James Swafford, Ted Ramirez & Santa Cruz, Lisa Otey, Restless Seed, Desert Doo Wop, Bwiya-Toli, the Arizona Balalaika Orchestra, Eric Hansen, Black Leather Zydeco, the Privy Tippers, Round the House, Trim the Velvet, Virgil Caine, the Raw Deal Bluegrass Band, Out of the Blue, Native Seed and many others.

Jamie Michaels, the winner of the 2001 Folk Festival's songwriting contest, also is scheduled to perform. If you want to see this year's songwriting finalists, they'll play from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday. At the same time, a children's show will entertain folk-music-loving tykes. And from noon to 4 p.m. both days, the Ballad Tree song swap will provide a forum for old-fashioned campfire-type sharing.

The events also will include a wide range of workshops in specific instruments and in songwriting; among the presenters, Hinojosa and Olsen will conduct a workshop each.

Although there are no tickets to buy for the festival, the usual variety of food and craft vendors will inhabit El Presidio Park, offering concertgoers many opportunities to spend money anyway.

For more information, call the Folk Festival hotline, 792-6474, or visit the Tucson Kitchen Musicians' Association Web site at

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