Top of page

Category: Concerts with Archive Challenge Content

Join Us at the Treasures Family Festival on June 15, 2024!

Posted by: Nicole Saylor

If you love to dance, jump, sing and clap, the June 15 Family Day at the Library of Congress is for you! The Treasures Family Festival “Treasures of American Communities” is a free, drop-in program that will run from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The event will showcase both the new David M. Rubenstein Treasures Gallery, highlighting gems from the Library’s vast collection, and the treasures of human creativity and cultural expression. The American Folklife Center (AFC) is thrilled to be a part of these festivities, which kick off with a sing-along lead by our wonderful Board of Trustees member, Natalie Merchant. Natalie is not only an amazing musician but also an evangelist for getting children to learn and love traditional songs and games. The festival is included with the daily timed-entry tickets required to visit the building, but portions of the event require preregistration. Find the links and more information in this blog post!

Homegrown Plus: Blues with Phil Wiggins (1954-2024)

Posted by: Stephen Winick

The passing of harmonica virtuoso and blues master Phil Wiggins on May 7, 2024, was a sad event for the music world, and particularly for the American Folklife Center. Phil was one of the most celebrated musicians in the blues nationwide, and one of the most important roots musicians of any kind in the Washington area. For those reasons among others, AFC has featured Phil in concerts probably more often than any other musician during the last few decades. In this post, we'll bring together most of Phil's appearances that were shot on video, show you some never-before-seen photos of Phil, and pay tribute to a longtime friend of the Center.

A man plays guitar and sings with an American flag in the background.

Homegrown Plus: American Roots Music with Rev. Robert B. Jones, Sr.

Posted by: Stephen Winick

We're continuing the Homegrown Plus series with an entertaining and educational concert and interview by Reverend Robert B. Jones, Sr., an inspirational musician and storyteller celebrating the history, humor, and power of American roots music. His deep love for traditional African American and American music is shared in live performances that interweave timeless stories with original and traditional songs. For more than thirty years Robert has entertained and educated audiences of all ages in schools, colleges, libraries, union halls, prisons, churches and civil rights organizations. He brought that inspiration here to the Library of Congress on February 15, 2024, as part of the Homegrown series as well as the series "Live! At the Library," and as part of our celebrations of Black History Month. As an ordained minister and a Baptist pastor, Rev. Jones has an unwavering faith the cultural importance of sacred and traditional American roots music. At the heart of his message is the belief that our cultural diversity is a story that we should celebrate, not just tolerate. This concert included blues, spirituals, gospel, rock, and even a touch of hip hop, delivered with voice, acoustic guitar and harmonica. Watch for the special sequence in which Rev. Jones is joined by his wife Sister Bernice Jones, his daughter Arnecia Jones, his son Robert Jones II (aka R.J.), and his daughter-in-law, R.J.'s wife, Sister Rosa Warner Jones. As usual for this series, you’ll find a concert video, an interview video, and a set of links to explore.

A woman with a bass guitar and a man with drumsticks and a traditional rattle

Homegrown Plus: Sihasin’s Music from the Dine Navajo Nation

Posted by: Stephen Winick

We're continuing the Homegrown Plus series with one that slipped through the cracks: a thrilling 2020 video concert by Sihasin, the sibling duo of Jeneda and Clayson Benally. The Benallys are award winning musicians from the Diné Navajo Nation in Northern Arizona. The name Sihasin is a Diné word that means hope and assurance, and the music reflects hope for equality, for healthy and respectful communities, and for social and environmental justice. Sihasin combines harmony vocals with bass and drums, in a style rooted in Native, rock, punk and world music. As usual for this series, you'll find a concert video, an interview video, and a set of links to explore. But there's also a bonus this time: Sihasin participated in our 2023 Archive Challenge at Folk Alliance International in Kansas City, so we have embedded that exciting video as well. And if that weren't enough, the concert features a real, live horse!

Homegrown Plus: From China to Appalachia with Cathy Fink, Marcy Marxer, and Chao Tian

Posted by: Stephen Winick

Welcome back to Homegrown Plus! We're continuing the series with a concert and interview featuring Grammy Award winning American Roots artists Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer together with accomplished Chinese classical hammered dulcimer player Chao Tian. The trio's repertoire includes traditional Chinese and Appalachian music as well as contemporary and traditional music from around the world. They use instruments that include yangqin (Chinese hammered dulcimer), gourd banjo, five-string banjo, ukulele, guitars, dumbek, cello-banjo and mandolin, employing them in unusual combinations to create exciting new arrangements of old music. Cathy and Marcy join Chao in singing Chinese songs, and Chao easily adds her love of American Old-Time music to fiddle tunes and songs. As usual with Homegrown Plus blogs, you'll find the concert video, an interview video, and a wealth of links to related collections and concerts, all right here in this blog post. 

Five musicians play piano, upright bass, recorder, two fiddles, and a mandolin

Homegrown Plus: Spaelimenninir’s Scandinavian Folk Music

Posted by: Stephen Winick

In April 2023, the American Folklife Center hosted a Homegrown concert here at the Library of Congress featuring Spælimenninir, a Scandinavian folk music ensemble based in the Faroe Islands. Spælimenninir likes to say their music is as familiar as an old time barn dance and as exotic as the landscape of the Faroe Islands, the band’s home in the North Atlantic. Spælimenninir’s repertoire is music of the Nordic countries drawing on traditions centuries old and compositions new as today. The current line-up of Spælimenninir includes one native Faroese, three Danes, and two Americans, who sing and play many instruments, including fiddle, recorder, piano, guitar, mandolin, nyckelharpa, and acoustic bass. The multinational background of the members and combination of instruments make the music unique; no other band in the world sounds like Spælimenninir. The sound reflects each member’s heritage and illustrates the links between the music traditions of the Scandinavian countries and the United States, and we were very pleased to feature them in the Homegrown concert series. Like other blogs in the Homegrown Plus series, this one includes a concert video and a video interview with some of the performers, plus links and connections to Library of Congress collections.

A collage of portraits of each of the six artists and groups featured in the Singing in Solidarity video compilation

Singing in Solidarity: Women’s Voices Celebrate Labor Day

Posted by: Michelle Stefano

In celebration of Labor Day, we wanted to honor the contributions of women to all forms of labor, of both the past and present, and what better way to do that than through song. So we started looking back at our Homegrown Concert videos, of which many are available online, as well as our Archive Challenge series and other documented performances, to create a special concert video. The result is this compilation of performances by Thea Hopkins, the women's ensemble Ialoni, Martha González, Rachel Sumner and Traveling Light, Piper Hayes, and the group Windborne. They all feature the voices of women, with the support of their male colleagues. Watch and read about the Singing in Solidarity video in this post!

A man plays a banjo and sings

Homegrown Plus: Jake Blount’s African American Folk Music Live at the Library

Posted by: Stephen Winick

Back in February, we were delighted to host the first Homegrown concert of 2023 here at the Library of Congress. The concert was a solo performance by the banjo player, fiddler, and singer Jake Blount, an award-winning musician and a scholar of African American musical traditions. We presented Jake as part of Live! at the Library, the series featuring extended visiting hours and special programming every Thursday night. It was also part of the Black History Month celebrations at the Library of Congress and was presented in cooperation with the Folklore Society of Greater Washington. Like other blogs in the Homegrown Plus series, this one includes a concert video and a video interview with the featured performer (in this case Jake Blount), plus links and connections to Library of Congress collections.

A man sings and plays guitar

Homegrown Plus: Work Songs from Maine with Bennett Konesni

Posted by: Stephen Winick

We're continuing the Homegrown Plus series with Bennett Konesni, who performs work songs in the context of both farm work and maritime pursuits in his home state of Maine. Like other blogs in the Homegrown Plus series, this one includes a concert video and a video interview with the featured performer, plus links and connections to Library of Congress collections. Bennett Konesni is a singer, farmer, musician and administrator, based where he grew up in midcoast Maine, and also at Sylvester Manor on Shelter Island, NY, where parts of his family have lived since 1652. He has been singing work songs while working since he was a teenager on schooners in Penobscot Bay. At Middlebury College, he wrote a thesis based on research into Zulu work song traditions done while studying abroad in South Africa and involving a workshop at the Middlebury College Farm in 2004—one of the first work song workshops on an American farm. After graduating, Bennett studied musical labor on three continents thanks to a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship: musical fishing in Ghana and Holland, singing and dancing farmers in Tanzania, and livestock songs in Mongolia and Switzerland. Since 2007, Bennett has been using work songs at Sylvester Manor Educational Farm.