Woodstock Folk Festival features genre's best artists
By JAMI KUNZER – email@example.com
Woodstock Folk Festival
WHEN: 12:30 to 6 p.m. July 21
WHERE: Woodstock Square and Stage Left Cafe, 125 W. Van Buren St., adjacent to the Woodstock Opera House on the Square
INFO: Suggested donation is $15 a person, $25 a family and $10 for seniors and students. For a complete schedule and information, visit woodstockfolkfestival.org
The meaning behind the name of the folk duo Red Tail Ring says a lot about the music they strive to make.
“Red tail” stands for two great creatures, the red tail hawk and the red fox, said Laurel Premo, who began collaborating with Michael Beauchamp a couple of years ago to form the Michigan-based duo.
“They’re both powerful and beautiful,” she said.
And the “ring” represents a collaboration between the two creatures, everyone working as a team, she said.
“It’s kind of an open-ended idea. It’s a reverence for nature,” she said.
With their blend of traditional Appalachian tunes and original songs on fiddle, banjo, mandolin, jaw harp and “plain-old foot stomping,” Red Tail Ring is one of seven featured artists scheduled to perform as part of the Woodstock Folk Festival.
The event takes place from 12:30 to 6 p.m. June 21 at the Woodstock Square, as well as Stage Left Cafe, 125 W. Van Buren St., Woodstock.
Artists will perform on a Main Stage in the Square, while others will take the Open Mic Stage at Stage Left Cafe.
Open mic sign-ups begin at 12:35 p.m. the day of the festival and continue until 5:30 p.m. At 2 p.m., an up-and-coming folk rock group, Rune, will perform as the Open Mic Stage’s featured artist.
“They’re quite lively,” event treasurer Ray Beth said of Rune.
Meanwhile, the Main Stage will feature a variety of some of the best folk artists in the country and elsewhere, ranging from new to seasoned acts, organizers say.
Red Tail Ring released its third full-length album, “The Heart’s Swift Foot,” in May 2013 with 10 original songs and two acoustic standards that pay homage to late bluegrass singers Hazel Dickens and Doc Watson.
“We really present a wide range of moods from really haunting slow pieces to square dance-type tunes, upbeat fiddle numbers,” Premo said.
The duo met as solo artists performing throughout the Michigan area.
“We just kind of kept bumping into each other at the same festivals,” Premo said. “We were able to sit down together and make a tune together.”
From there, the duo released its first pair of recordings, “Middlewest Chant” and “Mountain Shout,” in April of 2011. “Midwest Chant” features original songs, while “Mountain Shout” includes the duo’s interpretations of Appalachian ballads and melodies.
On stage, Beauchamp plays the guitar and mandolin, while Premo plays the fiddle. The two trade off on the banjo.
While she plays her music full time, Premo also works as a visual artist. She does graphic design and hand screenpainting, and created the artwork for the duo’s albums.
The festival also will feature a presentation of its 12th annual Lifetime Achievement Award to Tricia Alexander, a performing and healing artist who has hosted concerts, workshops and art projects for more than 30 years in America and Britain.
Other performers include Brother Sun, Donna Herula, Emily Elbert, Judith Avers and Sultans of String.
Sultans of String was nominated for World Group of the Year at the 2013 Canadian Indie Awards. They won World Group of the Year at the 2012 Canadian Folk Music Awards.
In an effort to attract more youth to the festival, organizers brought in some younger acts, such as Rune and Elbert, a 24-year-old American singer-songwriter and guitarist.
“She’s a hot up and coming folk singer from Texas,” Beth said.
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