Seattle, WA

Seattle’s 50th Annual Northwest Folklife Festival

Tree Langdon

A virtual celebration.
fiddlerPhoto by Ernesto Velázquez on Unsplash

This Festival takes place Memorial Day weekend, May 28–31, 2021, online, on Facebook, and Twitch!

This festival celebrates traditions that originated in the Pacific Northwest and new traditions being established here.

From Dance Lessons to Drumming to Folk Art, there’s something for everyone at this festival.

Much of it is virtual again this year, but the schedule is jam-packed.

The schedule is arranged in four categories, each with its own channel:

  • 50 Years of Folklife. This channel hosts a live stream of music and dance performances, live interviews, panel presentations, and community discussions. 
  • Roadhouse. Participatory live stream of dance workshops and live dances that you can join in and dance along to virtually
  • Folklife Premieres. These artists are new to the Festival and are performances from Pacific Northwest artists.
  • Gathering Room. This is a community-led virtual space for participatory singing, jams, discussions, and more. 

There are so many activities and events to participate in. 

The Traditional channel covers 50 Years of Folklife.

For exact times and how to join the celebration, go to the website.


There’s a Friday night dance with a live orchestra and dance lessons:

  • Guy Caridi and Nancy Fry teach all forms of partner dance, including Waltz, One-Step, Cha Cha, Foxtrot, and, especially, the many variations of Swing, such as Lindy Hop, East Coast Swing, Four-Count (Western), and Balboa. 
  • The Valse Café Orchestra is a true café orchestra and, we play what our audiences like to hear (and dance to). 
  • Small Pleasures with Suzanne Girardot, caller, contra dancing with Vivian Williams, on fiddle and Phil Katz, on melodeon.


Circle of Indigenous People Celebration, Part 1— Saturday, and Part 2 on Monday

  • X̲aat’áay ‘Wáadłuwaan G̲aagáay is an Alaskan Native dance group based in the Seattle area. The name translates to “all nations” in the Haida language. 
  • G’ana’K’w & Haan dei I Jin Family preserves, promotes, and provides healthy traditional activities by reconnecting and strengthening a sense of belonging as Native people. 
  • Peter Ali has inspired and comforted many through his music since first hearing the call of a Native American style flute at a low point in his own life. 

Morning Star Korean Cultural Center teaches Korean dance, music, and heritage to those interested in sharing the Korean culture. 

La Famille Leger is a group of Acadian fiddlers that play traditional music that will get you up and dancing.

Vivian Williams is a master fiddler and co-founder of Northwest Folklife

Francisca Garcia is the founder of Machtia, Mexican Cultural Consultant, Folklorist, Culture and Tradition Bearer. Curator, Artist, Teacher, Lecturer. 

Michelle Demers Shaevitz is Board Chair for Northwest Folklife, and the Artistic Director of the Mission Folk Music Festival in Mission, BC, focusing on folk, roots, Indigenous, trad and global music. 

Eduardo Mendonça has played, composed, and directed various genres of Brazilian popular music in the US, Canada, Nepal, and Brazil since 1974.

Seattle Labor Chorus debuted on stage at Northwest Folklife Festival, joined by Pete Seeger. The Chorus is dedicated to economic and social justice.

Don Meyers and Kathi Ploeger are experienced teachers of Scandinavian dance. 

Seattle Lilla Spelmanslag is Nordic folk’s next generation of musicians — all under 18, They play rhythmic, strong, lively music for dance.

Cliff Perry Band and Friends are well known in NW Bluegrass circles, and teach Bluegrass Band class at Shoreline CC

Anzanga Marimba Ensemble has been performing for 33 years with appearances around the globe. 

Draze (aka Dumisani Maraire, Jr) modernizes the mbira and marimba while infusing new spirit in contemporary music performance. 

Warren Argo Jam, a jam in memory of Warren Argo, lead by WB Reid and Doug Plummer.


The Hawaiian Showcase

  • Ke Liko A’e O Lei Lehua E Kapuaokalani the Kumu Hula for our Halau. It was passed down to me by our late Kumu and mother Aunty Claire Cortez.
  • Halau Hula Pulamahiaikalikolehua's mission is to preserve and perpetuate the art of Hula through the teachings and styling of Ma’iki Aiu Lake.
  • Halau Hula O Napualani has been involved with the Hawaiian Showcase at NW Folklife since its inception. 

KUOW’s RadioActive Youth Producer Showcase consists of three RadioActive youth producers, Kouther Ahmed (Tyee High School), Jared Lam (Ballard High School), and Sarah Pham (University of Washington). They will play and reflect on an audio story they produced last year.

Bailadores de Bronce promotes the beauty and richness of Mexican traditions through music and dance in the Pacific Northwest. 

Ballet Folklorico Mexico en la Piel is dedicated to the growth and preservation, of one of the most beautiful artistic representations from the Mexican culture, the ballet folklórico Mexicano.

Riley & Vivian, presented by Hearth Music Presents Vivian Leva & Riley Calcagno’s self-titled record is old-soul roots music to its core. 

Oinkari Basque Dancers are promoting and maintaining the Basque culture through performances of centuries-old dances from the Basque regions of Spain and France. 

Building from Here: Arts and Culture in the Pacific Northwest featuring Leigh Bezezekoff of Tractor Tavern, King Khazm of 206 Zulu, and Benjamin Hunter from The Black and Tan Hall. Moderator by Alexa Peters.

Benjamin Hunter is an award-winning multi-instrumentalist, composer, community activist, social entrepreneur, and educator. Benjamin’s work explores the intersections of music & art, community, policy, and culture.

Leigh Bezezekoff is Marketing & Social Media Manager at Seattle’s Tractor Tavern. 

King Khazm is a multifaceted artist and community organizer who advocates for community empowerment through Hip-Hop. 

Alexa Peters is a Seattle-based freelance writer with a specialty in arts & culture journalism, as well as cannabis copywriting. 

Interview with Martin Koenig: Sounds from Bulgaria. An ethnographer and Balkan dance specialist speaks.

Radost Folk Ensemble has been performing the dances of the Balkans and Eastern Europe since 1976.

Baby Gramps presented by KBCS “The Salvador Dali of Americana Music” plays an acoustic National resonator guitar, and sings unique arrangements of rags, jazz, & blues songs from the ’20s & ’30s, folksongs, sing-a-longs, & originals with wordplay, vaudeville antics, and throat singing. 

Moved By Words: New Voices of Color 2021 presents new work by writers and performers of Color in collaboration with NW Native Writers Circle, Northwest Folklife, the White Noise Reading series, giving Indigenous, Black, Asian, and other POC Voices an open and welcoming space to share their latest work in 2021 with the Folklife community.

David Francey presented by Mission Folk Fest “Francey’s clear, simple songs speak volumes to his followers. 

Jim Page — who legalized busking in Seattle and has since been a major force in the scene — was named by Seattle Metropolitan Magazine as “One Of The 50 Most Influential Musicians In Seattle History.”

Urvasi Dance Ensemble practices classical Odissi dance in the rare style of Adiguru Pankaj Charan Das from the state of Odisha, India, and includes some senior multinational dancers. 

Strikes A Bell is a collection of chantey singers from the Seattle area. 


Amanda Mata is a self-taught musician based in the Pacific Northwest working with Faith-Based young people to connect with others through their music 

Randall Kimball is a singer/songwriter who plays acoustic guitar, harmonica, and slide. He is from Haida Gwaii and currently resides in the Pacific Northwest.

Ryan Yellowjohn (Shoshone Bannock/Quechan) is a traditional hoop dancer.

Fern Renville is a theatre director, storyteller, teaching artist, and enrolled citizen of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate, an eastern Dakota band of the Oceti Sakowin (the seven council fires of the Great Sioux Nation)

Roger Fernandes is a Native American artist and storyteller who shares the culture of the local Coast Salish tribes in his work. 

Joe Seamons is a musician and educator based in the Pacific Northwest and dedicated to helping people connect with their heritage through music and storytelling. 

Lady “A” has been a Blues and Soul favorite for many years and is known as “The Hardest Workin Woman in Blues, Soul Funk & Gospel A National Recording artist, this is not your ordinary Blues singer.

Face the Music: Confronting Racism With Living Legacies is a virtual two-part discussion about how music, traditions, heritage, and artistic lineage have lent our community strength and insight for confronting social and racial injustice.

Massive Monkees This is Seattle’s largest regional B-Boy/B-Girl (breakdance) battle for the youth! 

The Seattle Peace Chorus offers two virtual presentations for the 50th anniversary of The Seattle Folklife Festival.

Próxima Generación is a program that provides a space for Latinx-identifying youth to collaborate, share ideas, and explore their artistic expressions. 

Clinton Fearon is a Jamaican reggae master and a prolific song maker, singer, and multi-instrumentalist. 

This is only a small selection of artists that will be appearing at the 50th anniversary of the Seattle Folk Festival.

Fifty years ago, in 1971, they were founded in an effort to preserve cultural traditions in the area. 

It’s been a fantastic success.

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A merchant of dreams. ♡ I love to connect humanity to technology. I write news, and fiction, exploring Worldview plots. Was a CGA/CPA in a past life. I have a lot of life experience. Parenting, Art, Finance, Investing, Auditing, Project Management, Writing, Story Grid Method, Science, Forensic Anthropology, Extensive overseas travel including Asia, Greece, Thailand.

Seattle, WA

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