The Last Outdoor Party of the Season 

The Tucson Folk Festival is a highlight of the local music scene, regularly winning the Tucson Weekly's Best of Tucson readers' poll. The free festival also marks the unofficial end of comfortable outdoor music events for the season before the summer swelter and doldrums set in.

The festival is a labor of love by the Tucson Kitchen Musicians Association. Now in its 16th year, the annual gathering on the first weekend in May draws national talent as well as the best folk musicians in the state. Some 70 acts will perform on three stages during the two-day event.

This year, in addition to headliner Jimmy LaFave, other national acts will include songstress Eliza Gilkyson, Native American Keith Secola and bluegrass phenom Martha Trachtenberg.

Popular local attractions include Kathy and Shanti, Black Leather Zydeco, Keith Curtis, the Titan Valley Warheads, Mark Holdaway and Stefan George. Styles range from traditional folk to blues, bluegrass and country, and even a little mariachi.

KXCI-FM, 91.3, will broadcast the festival live.

Eliza Gilkyson developed a following as a New Age folk singer with her airy hit, "Calling All Angels." The daughter of musician Terry Gilkyson and sister to former X guitarist Tony Gilkyson, (a sometimes guest in town with Al Perry), lately she has moved away from her earlier ethereal sound to a more down-to-earth style. Her lyrical inventiveness, however, is still in evidence on her latest release, Hard Times In Babylon. Gilkyson performs at 8:15 p.m. Saturday and again at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday.

Keith Secola won Best Independent Recording last year at the Native American Music Awards. His "NDN KARS," a celebration of the richness of life that can be found even in the economic poverty of reservation life, has become a Native American anthem. He also did the soundtrack for the PBS documentary, Native Americana. Secola performs Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

Martha Trachtenberg was a member of Buffalo Gals, one of the first all-female bluegrass bands. She's also the voice singing on commercials ranging from Miller beer to Folger's coffee ("The best part of waking up ..."). Her own music is more country-flavored, with a dollop of jazz. She plays Sunday at 7:30 p.m.

Finalists from the festival's songwriting competition perform on Saturday from noon to 2 p.m., with the winner playing again at 6 p.m. This year, the competition drew more than 60 entries from around the country, a mark of its growing prestige. A ballad tree song circle gives newcomers a place to meet other musicians and perform their original works.

Food vendors keep the crowds well fed with ethnic favorites, reminiscent of fall's "Tucson Heritage Experience" festival.

Many of the performers offer workshops at the festival on songwriting, instrumental techniques, and various folk music traditions and genres. The workshops are free.

More by David Ryder

  • On Their Own Terms

    While LTW amuses with the saga of a student and her tutor, Arizona Onstage makes the world a better place with 'Songs'
    • Sep 4, 2008
  • Live

    Suzanne Vega and Marc Cohn at the Rialto Theatre, Tuesday, Aug. 2
    • Aug 11, 2005
  • Uppity Woman Blues

    Live Theatre Workshop makes a fine circus out of 'The Taming of the Shrew'
    • Oct 14, 2004
  • More »


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

  • Battle Acts: Sgt. Pepper Then vs. Sgt. Pepper Now

    We have no Summer of Love to ponder, no Vietnam War to protest, no miracle drug that's going to save us. But we do have an unpopular president and Sgt. Pepper to marvel over all over again. It's not the same, but it kinda is, and that's about the best splendid time that can be guaranteed for all in 2017.
    • Jun 8, 2017
  • Vintage Vinyl

    The Frozen Sun “Electric Soul”/”Electric Soul” (long version) Captain Zoomar Records, 1969
    • Jun 29, 2017

The Range

Three Great Things to Do in Tucson Today: Tuesday Jan. 22

Three Great Things to Do in Tucson Today: Monday Jan. 21

26 Great Things to Do in Tucson This Weekend: Jan. 18 to 20

More »

Latest in Music Feature

  • A Musical Gumbo

    Trombone Shorty brings his own blend of New Orleans music to Tucson
    • Jan 17, 2019
  • Know Your Product

    Stars Pick Their Top 5! This week: The Flesh Eaters
    • Jan 10, 2019
  • More »

Facebook Activity

© 2019 Tucson Weekly | 7225 Mona Lisa Rd. Ste. 125, Tucson AZ 85741 | (520) 797-4384 | Powered by Foundation