The Richmond Folk Festival is rapidly approaching, and I’m beyond excited to share that I had an opportunity to chat with one of the three-day event’s most accomplished and anticipated performers, uilleann piper Jarlath Henderson.
Henderson hails from Northern Ireland, and he occupies a crucial creative space: the sacred middle ground between giving voice to tradition and forging a new path forward. Around the time we talked, I was immersing myself daily in the wonderful “new” John Coltrane album, Both Directions at Once, which is a dispatch from that same creative space. I ended up mentioning Coltrane to Henderson, and we talked a little about that idea of moving forward and backward at the same time.
Here’s what he said:
As a musician, I think you move from either being very sure of yourself to very unsure of yourself constantly, and it’s very hard to be sure of yourself. But within the traditional music world, in general, just like in any niche market, like bluegrass, there are the hardcore fans who really want things to be the way they were. But after a certain amount of time, it becomes more of a historical representation of a time gone by rather than an accurate representation of now. At the end of the day, it’s just a form of folk music, and it has to be for the people. It’s an interesting place to be.
Click here to read the rest of the interview, which appears in the current print edition of River City Magazine, and click here for more information on the Folk Festival.
A few quick pre-weekend notes:
- Congrats to Bob Dylan on his Nobel Prize in Literature. It couldn’t have been a more fitting selection — choosing him transcended the honor’s boundaries just as Dylan gave songwriting a transcendent push in the twentieth century. It’s been fun watching tributes roll in, from favorite lyrics to pictures of tattoos of favorite lyrics to evidence of Dylan binge-listening. Inspiring all around.
- And congrats to the organizers of the Richmond Folk Festival, for putting on another excellent event — this year in the face of shitty weather. I was only able to stop by on Sunday, but I will never forget what I saw: Rahzel doing “If Your Mother Only Knew.” I saw that. In person. It’s still sinking in. I have a crappy video I may upload at some point for the audio’s sake if folks are interested.
- Last Friday’s Lucy Dacus show was outstanding. This review did a great job of explaining why.
- New Phil Cook out today! Gorgeous, contemplative stuff.
- My mom’s been sending me some delightfully out-there music recommendations lately. Here’s one — a movement from Caroline Shaw’s Partita for 8 Voices. It’s a wild ride. I won’t say another word, because going in cold, without context or expectations, is really, really fun.
- Another mom recommendation: Sacred Harp singing.
- Were you lucky enough to get tickets for tonight’s Big Freedia show at Strange Matter before they sold out? I am envious. Post pics and videos plz.
Have a great weekend, y’all. Hope these links make it a little weirder.
Fancy a few Friday news and notes thingies?
- Today’s an awesome release day (hello there, Hiss Golden Messenger), but I left two crucial releases off last week’s list: White Laces (wrote about No Floor yesterday) and Moses Sumney. Lordy, is Lamentations good. I pretty sure I remember “Worth It” from when he opened for Sufjan Stevens at the Altria Theater — it went straight on my “That’s My Jam” playlist after I heard this version. “Lonely World” is also outstanding, with an assist from Thundercat. Well worth a listen, if you’re not already a Sumney fan. Or if you are. And since everyone on Earth falls into one of those two categories, there’s no excuse for not listening.
- Some really great Spacebomb news — their newest roster addition, Georgie, just released a song called “Company Of Thieves” and a corresponding video that looks like it was really fun to make. This is some seriously punchy stuff, both in terms of the strength of her voice and the oomph the horns provide. More plz thx.
- Next long run I go on I’m listening to the Bruce Fresh Air interview. Can’t wait. Also looking forward to reading his book. There need to be more hours in the day so I can do that like… now.
- Goodwill scores this week include Wynton Marsalis’ debut album, the soundtrack for The Empire Strikes Back, and two spoken word Star Trek albums, which include three or four narrated episodes each. I’m not all that into Star Trek, but they looked too campy to walk away from.
- Too much good music this weekend. Lucy Dacus (with My Darling Fury and Spooky Cool) at The National tonight and the Richmond Folk Festival all weekend. Here’s hoping the weather doesn’t act up too much — Stephen Lecky and the whole Folk Fest machine put in so much work each year, and it’s such a gift to the city. Stop by early and often, and be sure to throw a few bucks into an orange donation bucket. You’ll probably get a sticker, and you can wear it like a badge of honor.
I whined a little about the weather earlier, but if you’re in Florida/Georgia/South Carolina and you’re reading this, be safe. Here’s hoping the storm heads east and doesn’t circle back around.
I managed to sneak away for a few free-ranging hours at the Richmond Folk Festival on Saturday, and I brought my camera along with a photo post in mind.