Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Shawano gears up for 35th annual folk fest

Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Shawano gears up for 35th annual folk fest

<span style="font-size:12.0pt;font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;; mso-fareast-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language: EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">Three-day event starts Friday, Aug. 9.</span>

PHOTO: Scene from a past Shawano Folk Music Festival concert in Mielke Arts Center.

GREEN BAY, WISC. (WFRV) - Long past the "folk music scare" of the 1960s, the Shawano Folk Music Festival returns this weekend for a 35th year in and around the Mielke Arts Center at Shawano.

The event is a broad mix of music, dance and activities. Fine artists and crafters line the Mielke Park paths, and there is programming for children. Info: www.shawanofestival.com.

The phrase "folk music" encompasses so much that the festival organizers take a stab at a definition that goes like this:

" 'Folk music' is as hard to define as other kinds of music. We define it as music that comes directly from the culture and experiences of people, rather than coming from or through commercial interests. It includes much of the music we all know - but we can't quite say where we learned it. It tends to be acoustic - but not always. It can involve a lot of audience participation - but not always. It can be very old music (decades and centuries old) - but not always (it could be music that was written last week). It's old favorites, sing-alongs, blues, bluegrass, jazz, children's music, ballads, dance tunes and silly songs. It's music that comes out of the culture of Appalachia, the American West, American cities, the Louisiana bayou and Tin Pan Alley. It's music that comes out of the cultures of the British Isles, Europe, South America, Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and Australia. It's music for every age group, from very young children to grandparents. Folk music doesn't get played much on the radio, but it's as alive as rock and roll."

Friday and Saturday evening concerts are held inside air-conditioned center, with four or five acts each night.

Saturday and Sunday daytime programs include music, dance, children's programs, craft demos, sing-alongs, and instruction on four outdoor stages in Shawano's Mielke Park. Local vendors offer an array of food, and the Open Stage invites budding musicians a chance to perform for an audience.

The event goes on rain or shine.

The festival is sponsored by the Shawano County Arts Council and is produced by volunteers.

The concert schedule:

Friday, Aug. 9
- Emcee:  Matt Watroba, the 2013 honorary co-director, www.mattwatroba.com

- Lou & Peter Berryman, often comical songs of Wisconsin, cheese, cows and small towns, www.louandpeter.com

- Mike Mangione & the Union, folk-rock, gospel and blues group from Milwaukee with an orchestrated string section, www.mikemangione.com

- Joe Crookston, from Ithaca, N.Y., Matt Watroba's "Director's Choice," www.joecrookston.com

- Caravan Gypsy Swing Ensemble, swing, peppered with jazz, standards and originals, www.gypsyswing.com

Saturday, Aug. 10
- Emcees:  Lou & Peter Berryman
- Matt Watroba
- Frogwater, John and Susan Nicholson with music that spans styles from Celtic to Delta blues, classical to pop, www.frogwater.us

- Tonantzin Mexican Dance Company, dances and colorful costumes from the Aztec empire and Mexico's many ethnic and cultural traditions; from Green Bay

- Stas Venglevski and Mischa Litvin, Russian folk tunes, classical music and more, played on the bayan and domra, www.stasv.com

Also appearing at the festival are, Clinton Miller, guitarist, composer, singer and visual artist, www.clintonjmiller.com; John Doxtator, country, bluegrass, folk and old-time music from Gresham; Kay Kuester-Doran, teacher of folk dances from the Americas and around the world; Cliff Ellertson, a familiar voice in Shawano folk music, with his twist on country and folk; 50% Folk, singing old favorites.

Please email me at warren.gerds@wearegreenbay.com.

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