Saturday, August 24, 2013

American Folklife Festival, Bangor, Maine

When I came back from grocery shopping, I went in to the office to find out about washing Miss Kitty and was immediately told that a woman named Rachel was in the site across from me and  I just had to meet her because we were so much alike.   Later that day Rachel came over to introduce her self and to tell me about the Folk Festival which is in its 12th year in Bangor.  I explained that the Festival was the reason I had stayed in the area.  She does not tow a car and would have to take her RV that is the same size as mine to the festival each day.  I agreed to drive my car, RT, and she would pay for the parking.  Also, she knew the way.

We talked for awhile and I found that she was a fun lady and that she spends 5 months in Newfoundland, Canada and then comes for the Folk Festival before going to her home in Michigan for the winter.

When we arrived at the festival, she paid for me to park for the entire 3 days of the festival even though she couldn't go on Sunday.  There are four music stages, the Marketplace area, the food court, the Children's Village, and the FolkLife area.  There is no admission but the volunteers  do go around with buckets asking for donations to pay for the $900,000 event.  When we first arrived we walked around getting the lay of the land.  I found many artist that were not  billed on the program, playing on every corner before the event started.  We decided that we would just sit at one stage rather than move around because the two acts we wanted to see were at the Railroad Stage and the big day would be on Saturday were we would have to move around to see the various acts that overlap.

Today the events started at 6:45pm with a Puerto Rican Parade Band lead by Jorge Arce and another group Raiz de Plena.  Half of Arce's family comes from San Anton, mainly a black community known for the African tradition of the bomba music, and the other half comes for the music tradition of Puerto Rico.  In other words, his music is Afro-Caribbean.

  The parade ended at the Railroad Stage were I had my chair setup. It is neat, you just leave your chair all day were you plan to sit later and no one bothers it.

I am not much on bluegrass because it always sounds so sad but having a music appreciation teacher with me (Rachel) made it interesting.  The James King Band were four musicians that play upright bass, fiddle, banjo, mandolin and guitar.

The next act was showed that the music was  Garifuna  and was to be performed by Aurelio Martinez.  Neither one of us had any idea what kind of music that was but wanted to listen. Aurelio may be one of the last generations to grow up steeped in Garifuna tradition.  These traditions encompass the African and Caribbean Indian roots were a group of shipwrecked slaves intermarried with local natives on the island of St. Vincent, only to be deported to the Central American coast in the late 18th century.  Aurelio became the first Honduran of African descent to become a representative to the  National Congress.  The music was electrifying and had people dancing all over the lawn.

The last act at the stage was, it seemed by the most amount of people that showed up, Sister Monica Parker.  She was billed as the Lioness of the Blues.  She was compared to singers like Etta James, Koko Taylor, Ruth Brown and Kate Webster.  All lady blues singers that I love and it turned out so did Rachel. She was born in Gary, IN but now lives in California.   She had the audience dancing.

I had to buy one of her albums and get an autograph.

Well it was quite a night and I am looking forward to today.

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