Special/Signature Issues » 2014 Folk Festival

Music Map

Two guides to making the most of your time at the Folk Festival.


The World Music Route

by Peter McElhinney


Tezcatlipoca Voladores (Mayan sun dance)

While whistling flute music plays, men in colorful Mayan costumes climb a tall pole. After the appropriate incantations they launch into space on unwinding ropes, spinning in a widening gyre trailing Mexican and American flags. The event happens three times, but the first — which opens the festival in the low-angled, early evening light — is the one to catch.

Friday: 6:30 p.m. at Altria Stage

Saturday: noon and 6:15 p.m. at Altria Stage


West African Highlife Band

The all-stars who comprise the West African Highlife Band are veterans of some of the continent's iconic bands. The leader, bassist Baba Ken Ukololo, played with the legendary Nigerian King Sonny Ade. The music he's bringing to the festival, Highlife, is horn-, guitar- and percussion-driven Ghanian folk fortified with a potent strain of repatriated American pop.

Saturday: 2 p.m. at Community Foundation Stage, 6:45 p.m. at Dominion Dance Pavilion

Sunday: noon at Dominion Dance Pavilion and 4:45 p.m. at Altria Stage


Debashish Bhattacharya and Family

Continuously variable tonal control makes the slide guitar particularly suited to musical traditions unbound by the 12 half-steps per octave architecture of Western music. Debashish Bhattacharya was drawn to the instrument through Hawaiian music, mastered it, and went on to create his own hollow-necked 14-, 24- and 4-string instruments built for Indian classical music. The result is both deeply traditional and absolutely original.

Friday: 8:15 p.m. at MWV Stage

Saturday: 2 p.m. at MWV Stage

Sunday: 12:45 p.m. at Richmond Times-Dispatch-Richmond.com Stage and 3 p.m. at Community Foundation Stage


Masters of Hawaiian Music

The term slack-key guitar refers to open tuning, making it so an unstopped strum of the strings creates a single chord. But slack-key also evokes the relaxed island idyll of its Hawaiian origins. Some of the style's greatest players — Led Ka'apana, George Kahumoku Jr. and Richard Ho'opi'I — are coming to the Folk Festival. It's not just a performance, it's a vacation.

Saturday: 12:30 p.m. at Altria Stage and 3 p.m. at MWV Stage

Sunday: 1 p.m. at MWV Stage


The Dance Route

by Karen Newton


Kayton Roberts and Friends

Swing dancers, strap on your shoes when country-and-western steel guitar wizard Kayton Roberts lets loose with friends on fiddle, guitars and bass for a rollicking good honky-tonk show.

Saturday: noon at Community Foundation Stage; 2:30 p.m. at Dominion Dance Pavilion

Sunday: 2 p.m. at Altria Stage


Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers

If you don't start dancing to the dynamic, accordion-squeezing Dwayne Dopsie's musical gumbo, an intoxicating mélange of blues, soul and funk over a zydeco base, get out of the way so everyone else can.

Friday: 9 p.m. at Dominion Dance Pavilion

Saturday: 5:15 p.m. at Dominion Dance Pavilion

Sunday: 2:30 p.m. at Dominion Dance Pavilion


William Bell

R&B fans can catch a legend in soul man William Bell, who as singer, songwriter and producer was a pioneer of the distinctive Stax sound, known for its powerful and gritty urgency.

Friday: 7:45 p.m. at Community Foundation Stage

Saturday: 3:30 p.m. at Dominion Dance Pavilion and 8:45 p.m. at Altria Stage



Trouble Funk

The godfather of go-go, Chuck Brown, may be gone but you can still catch the original spirit with these Washington legends, moving butts since the '70s with their go-go anthem, "Hey, Fellas."

Saturday: 5:30 p.m. at Altria Stage, 8:30 p.m. at Dominion Dance Pavilion



Joaquin Diaz

Diaz plays traditional folk merengue music intended to get your body moving, so if it's your first time trying the Dominican Republic's national dance, take advantage of merengue lessons offered at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at the Dominion Dance Pavilion.

Friday: 8 p.m. at Dominion Dance Pavilion

Saturday: noon at Dominion Dance Pavilion and 7:15 p.m. at Community Foundation Stage

Sunday: 5 p.m. at Dominion Dance Pavilion