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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

A Fresh Vision of Music: Boston Folk Festival 2003

Looking for something to do this weekend other than job and homework? Don’t just sit at the screen surfing the net. Get the live action at the 6th annual Boston Folk Festival this weekend right here at UMass Boston. No matter what music you listen to, you’re bound to explore new horizons at this event.

“People have preconceived notions about what folk music is. But when exposed to the very wide diversity of what folk music encompasses, they find a variety of music that tells stories, gets your foot stompin’ … it’s not your parent’s music,” says Pat Monteith, general manager of WUMB and executive director of the Folk Festival. As the radio station blares harmonica in the background, Monteith’s explains the appeal of the story telling in folk music: “It’s everything. Blues, country, Mexican, Celtic … it’s hip hop.”

Festivities begin on Friday from 7pm to 10pm with the new-this-year Songwriting and Flatpicking contests which will feature five finalists who will compete live. With over 350 song entries for the contest, we’re sure to see up-and-coming stars hit the stage. What’s more, professionals Tom Rush and Joel Mabus will be the judges of the contest, and they will also perform later that night.

The festival continues into Saturday and Sunday, both days from 11-7pm. In honor of the 2003 “Year of Blues,” Saturday will feature blues legend Koko Taylor. Taylor’s raw vocal power and powerful presence has won her praise throughout the world; Rolling Stone calls her “the great female blues singer of her generation.” She has won 19 W.C. Handy Awards, received a Grammy in 1994, and was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1999. Also performing on Saturday: Kate Campbell, Carol Noonan, Tom Rush, the Luther “Guitar Jr.” Johnson, the Tony Trischka Band, and much more.

Sunday’s program showcases 11-time Grammy winner Emmylou Harris, along with Richard Shindell, Greg Brown, Paul Brady, Catie Curtis, Danu, as well as many others. The UMass Boston campus is truly a great place to experience Folk music because the Boston community is sure to be an enthusiastic audience. Monteith explains, “Boston has one of the largest folk communities of anywhere in the world.”

The Boston Folk Festival is not just some concert you go to, it’s a learning experience, literally. To continue in celebration of “The Year of Blues,” participants in the Blues Experience Workshop will learn styles of harmonica and guitar within the current blues genre; Paul Bloom from Rhode Island is bringing with him 250 drums to teach drumming for free. Worried about what the kids can do? The little tikes can have the opportunity to make kites, and of course learn the drums with the adults.

There are five stages and nearly 100 performers, you can even go beyond the campus on a boat where you will cruise for an houron the water listening to live music. “College is all about expanding your horizons, and this is the perfect opportunity to do it,” says Monteith.

Now the question is money. How does free sound? Monteith says, “Another important point that only UMass Boston students are told about is that much of the festival can be experienced for free.” Yup, you can check out local artists, browse the kiosks, experiment with drums, and even park at no cost (how often can you say that you parked for free at UMB?). If you want to see the big shots like Koko Taylor or Emmylou Harris, you have to have a paid wristband. Friday night is $10, and Saturday/Sunday are $35 per day or $60 for both days. UMass Boston students get a $5 discount.

For more information and ticket purchase, visit http://www.bostonfolkfestival.org or http://www.wumb.org.

Kara Niemi is an intern in the Office of University Communications.