The American Folklife Center is very pleased to announce our Homegrown Concert Series for 2020, which we’ve nicknamed “Homegrown at Home.” These concert videos, recorded at home by the artists, will be presented online each Wednesday at noon (Eastern U.S. Time Zone), initially on the AFC Facebook page and then permanently on the Library of Congress YouTube channel and website. The series kicks off on June 24 with a concert by the Riley Family Band, featuring GRAMMY-winning accordionist, fiddler, and singer Steve Riley of the leading Cajun band Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys. For this special concert Steve is joined by his talented sons, Burke and Dolsy Riley.
The series will then continue every Wednesday at noon (Eastern U.S. Time Zone) through September, with concerts including music from far and wide: from the Navajo Nation in northern Arizona to the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia, from the Catskills in upstate New York to the Louisiana bayous, and from Scotland to Sweden. The artists are a diverse array of performers, who among them have won GRAMMYs, EMMYs, and many other awards, and have performed all over the world. But, as the series’s nickname suggests, they’re mostly staying at home for now…and so can you by watching the series at home!
During each concert’s premiere on Facebook–starting at noon Eastern on Wednesdays–the performers will be watching along with you and available to chat. The chat feature will last for the duration of the video’s premiere showing, and for about 5 minutes after the music ends. To watch the concert on our Facebook page and have the opportunity to chat, visit this link each Wednesday at noon, Eastern US Time Zone.
Of course, the online nature of this series is a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In a typical year, we would have begun our series in March or April, holding concerts once or twice a week through the summer and into the fall, in the Library’s Coolidge Auditorium and Whittall Pavilion. But just as the series was gearing up to get started, the Library of Congress made the difficult decision to cancel all onsite public events because of the pandemic. Our concert team quickly got moving to create a new format consistent with social distancing and other safety practices, re-program the series, and get the artists started on their recordings. We’re very excited to share the results, and we hope you’ll enjoy them.
At the American Folklife Center and throughout the Library of Congress, we care a great deal about traditional music and about our audiences. We’re thrilled to be able to keep presenting the music in a format that keeps everyone safe. We know there will be a day when we can come together and share live music again in our beloved Coolidge Auditorium, but we’re not sure when that will be. Until that day, we hope to keep coming up with innovative ways to connect you to the richness of traditional music from across the United States and around the world.
Some of the artists in Homegrown 2020 are accepting our challenge of learning one or more songs from the archive and performing it as part of their concert: the Folklife Archive Challenge. We are currently asking our friends, fans, and followers to get inspired by the archive and create their own artworks or live performance videos featuring archival material. You can take up that challenge yourself–find out how at this link! We hope the Homegrown 2020 series will provide further inspiration for homemade videos, recordings, and artworks.
We’re still putting the finishing touches on the series, and a few more artists may yet be announced. You can find the full list of artists, along with biographies and other information, at this link on the Library’s concert pages. But just to pique your interest, the artists and their dates we know about so far are below.
Homegrown Concert Series 2020: Homegrown at Home
The American Folklife Center‘s free Homegrown concert series presents the very best of traditional music and dance from a variety of folk cultures thriving in the United States and around the world. One of goals of the series is to bring to the public the multicultural richness of folk traditions. To make sure that we are getting the very best artists from all regions of the country, we work closely with state folklorists in each state, who advise us on artists and styles of performance that are important in their regions. You can find the full list of artists, along with biographies and other information, at this link on the Library’s concert pages. The current list is below:
June 24 — The Riley Family Band featuring Steve Riley: Cajun Music from Louisiana
July 1 — John McCutcheon: Songs from the American Folklife Center Archive
July 8 — Sihasin: Jeneda and Clayson Benally from the Navajo Nation (Arizona)
July 15 — Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas: Scottish Music for Fiddle and Cello
July 22 — Emma Björling and Petrus Johansson: Traditional Songs from Sweden
July 29 — Sean Ardoin: Creole Music and Zydeco from Louisiana
August 5 — Jay Ungar and Molly Mason: Oldtime Fiddle Tunes and Songs
August 12 — Walter Parks: Haunting Swamp Hollers from Georgia
August 19 — Carmen Agra Deedy: Family Stories from a Master Storyteller
August 26 — Eva Salina and Peter Stan: Serbian, Roma, and Jewish Songs
September 2 — Joe Jencks: Work Songs and More from the AFC Archive
September 9 — Reggie Harris: Spirituals, Freedom Songs, and Other Songs of Hope
September 16 — Dom Flemons: Black Cowboy Songs and More from the American Songster