Bands from afar heading for second annual Community Folk Festival

Ari and Mia.

Contradancing, workshops and performances by established musicians from as far away as Montana are among the attractions at the second annual Bates College Community Folk Festival, a two-day event beginning at 4:15 p.m. Friday, Feb. 10, in Chase Hall Lounge, 56 Campus Ave.

The event is open to the public. Admission fees vary according to ability to pay, from $5 to $20 for one day, or $10 to $30 for both days (no one will be turned away for inability to pay). Tickets are available at the door. For more information, please contact or 952-913-0204.

The event is sponsored by the Freewill Folk Society, a student organization at Bates. Vouchers for meals in the Bates Commons will be for sale. See a full schedule for the festival.

The event opens Friday with an open mic featuring Bates musicians. Friday’s highlights include performances by Ari & Mia, from Boston; Sawyer Lawson, a Bates senior from Concord, Mass.; and the Tumbling Bones, from New York City. Contradances and a waltz session begin at 7 p.m., with supporting musicians including Ari & Mia, the Bates ensemble Chase the Fiddlers and the electro-folk Maine duo Perpetual e-Motion. Kim Roberts of Farmington calls the 7 p.m. contradance and Chrissy Fowler of Belfast calls the 10:30 contradance, with the waltz session in between.

The Press Gang is a Celtic-music trio based in Portland, Maine.

On Saturday, members of the Portland-based Celtic trio The Press Gang and Nicole Singer are among musicians presenting workshops from 11 a.m. to noon. The Press Gang offers a concert at 1 p.m., and a contradance follows at 2 p.m., with music by Montana’s Sassafras Stomp. Callers include Alex Krogh-Grabbe of Cambridge, Mass.; Andrew Stout of East Longmeadow, Mass.; and Tavi Merrill of Orono, Maine.

“The participatory nature of folk music is what sets it apart,” says Catherine Elliott, a Bates senior from Edina, Minn., and an organizer of the festival. “People are invited to partake in the singing and playing, or just listening, and there’s a common understanding that each person’s contribution is important.

“Folk isn’t about perfection and refined technique, but rather about creating the opportunity for people to experience music together.”

The festival made its debut in 2011. It came about in part because of research done by Kaitlin Webber of Cazenovia, N.Y., an anthropology major in the class of 2011 who was writing a senior thesis investigating the role of young people in contemporary contradance communities. (Contradancing is a form of social folk dancing found in the Northeast.)

“Kate organized the festival as an experiential component of her thesis,” says Elliott. “But those academic reasons aside, the festival is also a classic case of a big vision and a lot of hard work among several festival organizers.

“We’re excited to carry her idea forward this year.”

About the Performers

Ari & Mia are sisters who bring classical training in cello and violin to a wide range of genres with American folk music of the Southeast and Northeast at the heart. Their 2010 album Unruly Heart reached No. 2 on the national folk radio charts only two months after its release.

Chase the Fiddlers is a folk band composed of Bates students and faculty including Greg Boardman, of Auburn, a longtime presence in the Maine folk music scene.

Sawyer Lawson grew up singing and playing drums, fiddle and mandolin in his family band. A guitarist as well, he is concentrating these days on performing his own material.

Perpetual e-Motion consists of Ed Howe, playing electric fiddle, and John Coté, on electronically treated guitar, didgeridoo and foot percussion.

Shown in performance at She Doesn't Like Guthrie's, in Lewiston, are Perpetual e-Motion -- Ed Howe and John Cote.

The Press Gang, composed of squeezebox player Christian “Junior” Stevens, fiddler Alden Robinson and guitarist Owen Marshall, perform all over the Northeast and into Atlantic Canada.

Sassafras Stomp, dedicated to original and traditional music emphasizing fiddle, are fiddler-banjoist Johanna Davis and guitarist-bassist Adam Nordell.

Tumbling Bones is a trio playing old-time American music on guitar, fiddle and banjo. Former members of the Powder Kegs, they are Peter Winne, Jake Hoffman and Sam McDougle.

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