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Homegrown Plus: Vri: Chamber Folk From Wales

We’re continuing the Homegrown Plus series with Vrï, a trio from Wales in the U.K., whose members describe their music as ‘chamber-folk.’ The idea of the series is to gather concert videos, video interviews with the musicians, and connections to Library of Congress collections together in one place for our subscribers…so here we go!

Bringing together the experience of Jordan Price Williams (cello, voice) Patrick Rimes (violin, viola, foot percussion, voice) and Aneirin Jones (violin, voice) Vrï plays tunes and songs from the Celtic nations and beyond, attempting to combine the energy of a rowdy pub session with the style and finesse of the Viennese string quartet. They combine high-energy dance music and stately traditional melodies with delicate arrangements, and sing in both Welsh and English.

James B. Hardin 1940-2022

The American Folklife Center is very sad to pass on the news of the death of James Budd Hardin, who worked as the editor for the Center from 1987 until his retirement in 2004. Jim died peacefully at home on April 4, with family by his side. Throughout his tenure at the Library of Congress, Jim was a highly respected and well-liked colleague who was known for his dedication, hard work, outstanding sense of organization, meticulous attention to detail, willingness to pitch in for the good of the Library, and wry sense of humor. At AFC in particular, Jim was a beloved staff member, and will be missed by his former colleagues at the Center and throughout the Library of Congress. Read more about Jim’s life and work in this blog.

Homegrown Plus Premiere: Kongero, Swedish Folk’appella

We’re beginning the 2022 Homegrown Plus Premiere series with Kongero, a Swedish vocal group which consists of four women who sing folksongs: Lotta Andersson, Emma Björling, Sofia Hultqvist Kott, and Anna Wikénius. The women of Kongero like to say their music tells tales of life, with moving love songs, dramatic medieval ballads, witty ditties, and spirited dances, all sung in their native Swedish tongue. Traditionally, Swedish songs are usually sung solo. Kongero adds harmonies and arrangements created by the band members. Kongero’s polyphonic music is characterized by tight harmonies, stirring rhythms, and the clarity of their beautiful voices, which bring traditional Swedish folksongs into modern times. Since 2005, Kongero has performed their polyphonic a cappella folk music (which they have dubbed Folk’appella) all over Europe, Asia, and the Americas, singing in concerts and leading workshops in traditional Swedish vocal music and vocal harmonies. In this blog you’ll find videos of the concert and an interview with the singers.

Homegrown Plus: Walter Parks

We’re filling in the Homegrown Plus series with one that got away, our great 2020 concert with Walter Parks, one of the first “Homegrown at Home” concerts. Walter is a consummate guitarist who founded the duo The Nudes before spending more than a decade as the lead guitarist for Woodstock legend Richie Havens. We’re particularly happy to present this concert, which showcased our collections in a unique and compelling way. Walter has done extensive research on our 1944 recordings of Okefenokee Swamp music made by Francis Harper. He has arranged material from the collection for his own performances, including his Homegrown Concert, which is almost entirely made up of material from the collection. If that weren’t enough, Walter made the journey from his current home in St. Louis all the way down to the Chesser homestead, so he could record part of his concert video in the same place where the archival recordings were made. It gives his concert an extraordinary sense of place, and we’re particularly delighted to present it to you here.

Homegrown Plus: Ánnámáret

We’re continuing the Homegrown Plus series with our first concert to feature Sami music, performed by the fascinating singer, songwriter, and musician Annamaret. The American Folklife Center was very happy to co-sponsor this concert with our friends at the Embassy of Finland. Annamaret’s project Nieguid duovdagat has earned her some of the top honors available for folk music in Finland, including Folk Music Record of the Year for 2021. For her Homegrown concert, Annamaret performed songs from Nieguid duovdagat, accompanied by the same musicians who featured on the award-winning recording: Ilkka Heinonen, who specializes in folk music on the jouhikko, G-violone and contrabass; and Turkka Inkila, who plays flutes and electronic instruments. In our conversation, I spoke with Annamaret about Sami culture, the Sami’s status as the only Indigenous community in Europe, and the impact of colonialism on Sami life. And, of course, we spoke about Sami music, including yoik, and her own career as a musician and cultural advocate. Watch both the concert and the interview in this blog post, and find links to some further Sami resources you can explore.

Homegrown Plus: Kardemimmit

Welcome back to the Homegrown Plus series, in which we present Homegrown concerts that also had accompanying oral history interviews, placing both videos together in an easy-to-find blog post. We’re continuing the series with one of Finland’s favorite folk bands, Kardemimmit. The American Folklife Center was very happy to co-sponsor this concert with our friends at the Embassy of Finland. Kardemimmit is a quartet consisting of Maija Pokela, Jutta Rahmel, Anna Wegelius, and Leeni Wegelius, four women who sing and play kantele. The kantele is a zither or plucked psaltery, and is the national instrument of Finland. Kardemimmit is considered a pioneering kantele band. The singing and playing in their excellent concert video have a strong foundation in Finnish, Eastern European, and Scandinavian traditions. In our conversation, I spoke with Anna and Leeni Wegelius about Finnish traditional music, the education system in Finland and its support of music, the importance of the kantele, the history of Kardemimmit, and their surprising connection to…The Spice Girls. Enjoy the concert and the interview, plus links to some further Finnish resources you can explore, all in this blog post, published on the anniversary of the concert premiere!

Remembering the Life and Work of Tony Barrand: The 2003 Interview [Part 4]

In this post, we continue presenting Jennifer Cutting’s 2003 interview with Tony Barrand, a singer, dancer, academic, writer, teacher, historian, folklorist, curator, producer, and festival organizer, who died on January 29. Barrand donated the Anthony Grant Barrand Collection of Morris, Sword, and Clog Dancing (AFC 2003/005) to AFC in 2003. This post is the fourth in a series of four posts, each of which will present a portion of the interview. In this post, Cutting and Barrand discuss the effect multiple sclerosis had on Barrand’s life and work, as well as his career from the mid 1980s until 2003 when the interview took place. It is being published on April 3, 2022, which would have been Barrand’s 77th birthday.

Homegrown Plus: Ranina Quartet

Welcome to the Homegrown Plus series, in which we present Homegrown concerts that also had accompanying oral history interviews, placing both videos together in an easy-to-find blog post. We’re continuing the series with Ranina Quartet, a music ensemble from the Republic of Georgia. The Ranina Quartet was created out of a love for Georgian traditional music, including urban songs, folk songs, and chants. The current members include Tornike Kandelaki (first voice), Soso Kopaleishvili (second voice), Saba Peikrishvili (baritone), and Beka Kemularia (bass). They have been singing since they were little children, and individual members have performed in many ensembles. The quartet’s repertoire includes classic pieces from various genres including Georgian traditional folk songs, liturgical chants, and popular songs. We follow the concert video with two interviews, one with Ranina member Soso Kopaleishvili and the other with ethnomusicologist John A. Graham.

Irish American Women on the Folklife Today Podcast

We’re back with another episode of the Folklife Today podcast! To round out both Women’s History Month and Irish American Heritage Month, we’re presenting A Tribute to Irish American Women. As usual, I’ll present links to relevant blog posts, videos, and audio selections in this post, as well as the link to download the podcast.

VHP’s New Online Exhibit: Transcribed Correspondence Collections

Today, the Veterans History Project (VHP) debuts “Line by Line: Transcribed Correspondence Collections,” a new online exhibit focusing on nine digitized, fully transcribed correspondence collections. Part of the suite of interpretive resources released earlier this month focusing on letters in the VHP archive, this online exhibit came to life a bit differently than others on […]