A closer look at Montana Folk Festival performers - KXLF.com | Continuous News | Butte, Montana

A closer look at Montana Folk Festival performers

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Montana Folk Festival organizers announced another group of performers coming to the Montana Folk Festival in Butte, Montana this July 7-9.

“Thanks to the continuing artistic programming collaboration of the National Council for the Traditional Arts (www.ncta-usa.org) and a Montana music programming committee, this is shaping up to be another stellar lineup for this July's Montana Folk Festival, ” said Festival Director George Everett.  "Please come expecting to find plenty that's familiar but also to be amazed at the variety and diversity of the event.”

There is no admission for any performances on all three days of the festival although festival organizers are asking that attendees "Pony Up" a minimum of $20 each day for individuals and $25 each day for families to help sustain the festival in coming years.    

More than 200 artists representing a broad diversity of musical and cultural traditions will perform on the festival's six stages in Uptown Butte.

The latest performing groups confirmed for the 2017 Montana Folk Festival are:

Clinton Fearon and the Brown Boogie Band




Clinton Fearon is one of Jamaica's most talented Reggae musicians. His infectious bass and guitar lines, percussion accents and powerful vocals make Clinton Fearon a living legend among reggae musicians and fans. Clinton Fearon was born in St. Andrew, close to Kingston in Jamaica, but he grew up deep in the hills of St. Catherine.

He left the remote countryside to live with his mother in the city of Kingston when he was 16. He found a construction job helping to build roads bu the music was his dream and, at 17, Clinton formed his first group called The Brothers. They were looking for chances to play around Studio One and Treasure Isle, the two main gathering places for musicians in those times. In 1969, the Gladiators already had their first hit with Hello Carol. They were looking for another vocalist to replace David Webber, who left shortly before. Clinton met Albert Griffiths, an original founder of the group, and became the third Gladiator at 19 and stayed with the group for 18 years.

The Gladiators helped build an important part of reggae music’s foundation and was one of its best ambassadors worldwide. They Were the first reggae group to play in Morocco, in 1982. In 1987, after The Gladiators ended a tour in the U.S., the musicians had time left on their visas and some decided to stay, in order to make a little extra money before returning to Jamaica. They created a group called The Defenders and the group set its base in Seattle, Washington.   In 1990, Clinton Fearon released his first compilation of original songs with The Defenders, Feel The Spirit.

After five years together, the band split and Clinton stayed in Seattle.   In 1994 he founded the Boogie Brown band and in 1995 he released the album Disturb The Devil, a collection of 13 songs that he wrote and produced. Mystic Whisper, released in 1997, was immediately ranked the #1 album by Reggae Vibes/CRM Radio 102.7 FM in Europe and selected the #2 independent U.S. release by international magazine Reggae Report. With pure roots reggae, great melodies and soulful delivery, the album showed Clinton Fearon’s versatility as much as a variety of themes in the sweet style that has become his signature.

In 2012, Clinton Fearon released his second acoustic album Heart And Soul. In 2014, Clinton Fearon released his 10th self-produced album entitled Goodness.

Each of Clinton Fearon's songs is a strong message coming from the heart of a man who dedicates his life to help a better world to come.

“My music is roots reggae from the island of Jamaica. I grew up deep in the hills, up in St. Catherine, surrounded by nature, beauty, and hard work. Even as a child, I knew I wanted to be a musician and began my career singing in church and at school and eventually built my own guitar! As a teenager, my journeys took me to Kingston where I met many musicians and began writing and recording music. The Skatalites, Motown artists and Jamaican musicians who came before me all influenced my music."

Kenan Adnawi  

Syrian Traditional Music

Oud, Tabla, and Violin



Kenan Adnawi is a well established Oud virtuoso from Syria. He started playing Oud at the age of 7. Since then, he went through perfecting his performance earning him a long list of awards and an international reputation. Adnawi performs as a soloist and with ensembles and orchestras in some of the major international events and venues and alongside renowned artists.

Adnawi's keen interest in world music has led him to collaborate with a plethora of artists from around the world and from different musical backgrounds. His passion: creating new music and new ways of improvisation and composition for the Oud by incorporating novel techniques, scales, and improvising ideas from other world music traditions.

Adnawi's concerts are famous for their experimental rhythms and sounds that engage the audience in new musical experiences every time. Adnawi receives a great deal of support to continue to perform and express new ideas for this kind of music improvisation. It is especially gratifying to introduce the Oud, an instrument mostly known in the Middle East, the Arab World and countries such as Turkey, Greece, and the Balkans, to audiences around the world.

Kenan Adnawi joined the High Music Institute of Damascus, Syria in 2003 where he studied Oud with Azerbaijani, expert Askar Ali Akbar before he graduated in 2008. Adnawi has since accompanied Marcel Khalife in his Al-Mayadeen Ensemble in Morocco, United Arab Emirates, Austria, Lebanon and many other places around the globe. He has also played with the Qatar Philharmonic, under the direction of world-renowned Maestro Lorin Maazel, for its inaugural concert in October 2008. He toured with the Qatar Philharmonic in 2009 and performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, Theater des Champs-Elysees in Paris, La Scala in Milan, and Teatro Massimo in Palermo where he performed the Arabian Concerto composed by Marcel Khalife. In 2009, he won first place in the International Oud Competition in Beirut, Lebanon.

Adnawi lives in the United States while touring some major national and international festivals and is currently enrolled at the New England Conservatory.

Leonardo Sandoval

Brazilian Tap Dance



           Brazilian tap dancer Leonardo Sandoval, described by the Chicago Sun-Times as “strong yet fine-boned, capable of authority and nuance,” and praised by the  New York Times for his “spontaneous aura of thinking,” is quickly gaining a reputation in the tap world and beyond for his musicality and for adding his own Brazilian flavor to tap dancing. He began his dance studies at age six in Piracicaba (São Paulo State). When he was 11 years old, he began appearing on Brazilian TV, and at 18, he was invited to Los Angeles to attend the Debbie Allen Dance Academy for the Summer Intensive program, as well as the LA Tap Festival. Leo also co-founded the Cia Carioca de Sapateado in Rio de Janeiro with the aim of bringing tap dance to a wider audience in Brazil by incorporating Brazilian rhythms, music, and dance styles into tap.

In 2013, Leo moved to New York and was invited to perform and teach at the Chicago Human Rhythm Project’s Rhythm World, America’s largest festival of tap and percussive arts. In New York, he is working with Michelle Dorrance’s acclaimed company, Dorrance Dance, performing across the United States and abroad, including at the Jacob’s Pillow and Fall for Dance festivals, the Lincoln Center, the Joyce Theater, and the Danspace Project in New York. In addition to this, Leo is also in demand as a solo performer and as a choreographer. Since September 2014, he has been an artist in residence at the American Tap Dance Foundation. His first full-length choreography, Music from the Sole, an hour-long show created with American bassist and composer Greg Richardson, premiered in 2015 at the Creative Alliance in Baltimore, to a sold-out audience. Excerpts from the show were also presented in New York and Massachusetts, in collaboration with the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival. Other recent credits include a guest appearance with Jazz at Lincoln Center's Michael Mwenso & The Shakes, performances at the National Folk Festival, ATDF's Rhythm in Motion, and interviews on MSNBC, the CW channel, and Fox. Upcoming projects include US and international tours with both Dorrance Dance and Music from the Sole, as well as new choreographic work.

Leo’s choreography and performing style are rooted both in America’s great tap dance heritage and in Brazil’s rich rhythmic and musical traditions, with additional influences from jazz and contemporary dance.

Betsayda Machado y La Parranda el Clavo

Venezuelan Tambor



Betsayda Machado is the voice of Venezuela.  Raised in the small village of El Clavo in the region of Barlovento, her recent rural recordings with lifelong friends and neighbors Parranda El Clavo brought new attention to Venezuelan Afro-Soul genre: 'Tambor'.  A spirit-shaking percussion and voice fiesta said to make dancers float.  

"If there's a god it sounds like this woman," producer Juan Souki says of the voice of Betsayda Machado. Dubbed The Black Voice of Barlovento, local masters view her as the carrier of a long tradition of nearly extinguished black music genres. After doing some project work with Machado, Souki was enticed to embark on a field trip to discover the source of her powerful pipes, and he describes the 60-minute bus trip to her tiny hometown village of El Clavo as time travel. There he explored and discovered the rich sounds of its African former cacao field-working descendants, capturing songs and beats never before performed or recorded outside the area. This sound is typified by El Clavo's resident band, La Parranda El Clavo. La Parranda El Clavo began as a joyful, unstructured jam group decades ago, and has matured into a virtuoso percussion and voice ensemble. The music's raw percussive nature is reminiscent of other African-rooted music – from countries like Colombia, Cuba, and Brazil – but was born of its own unique history and culture. For nearly thirty years they've performed at town festivities, funerals, and celebrations, preserving songs which reinforce town history and local anecdotes. Machado began her career singing with them in the late 1980s. Since relocating to Caracas in her early twenties, Machado has become an Afro-Venezuelan music icon but has retained the connection to the music of her roots.

This infectious, percussive music, anchored by Machado's thunderous voice, is finally being recorded, documented and shared with the world outside of El Clavo and will now be showcased on the stages of the Montana Folk Festival.


Dori Freeman

Old Time/Country



Dori Freeman grew up in a musical family in Galax, Virginia. Her father, Scott Freeman, and grandfather, Willard Gayheart, both play music and their family owns the Front Porch Gallery and Frame Shop which is part of The Crooked Road, Virginia's heritage music trail.   In an interview with The Bluegrass Situation, she mentioned that a common theme in her music is "dealing with relationships and breakups, and wanting to be strong and independent, but also wanting to have a partner through things.”

Rolling Stone called her first self-named album Dori Freeman on Free Dirt Records "a strong contender for Americana debut of the year.  Jon Pareles wrote in The New York Times  "the purity of Dori Freeman’s voice and the directness of her songwriting reflect not only her Appalachian hometown — Galax, Va. — but also a determined classicism, a rejection of the ways modern country punches itself up for radio and arenas.  Ann Powers of NPR said the "debut album shows great range and incredible emotional nuance."  NPR also said "it's startling to hear such a fully formed singing and songwriting voice come out of nowhere.

“I was brought up here and have spent the better part of my adult life here... I think a large part of America has a very specific idea of what Appalachia or bluegrass is. I think people think of this area and they think of hillbillies and being isolated and poverty and things like that. My experience living here is one of meeting genuine, honest people who don’t have any affectation and are really proud of their culture.  I’m really proud of my culture as a result of that.”  Her Appalachian upbringing lies at the core of her music - heard especially in the lulling mountain drawl of her voice.

Doreen Ketchens

New Orleans Jazz



Doreen's Jazz New Orleans is a group whose primary interest lies in spreading the culture and traditional music of New Orleans through performances and education throughout the world. Doreen's Jazz New Orleans has represented New Orleans and the United States around the world, performing in Africa, Asia, Brazil, Canada, Columbia, Europe, Mexico, Russia and the United States. They have performed for four United States presidents, including Bill Clinton, George Bush Sr., Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter. The band also boasts 23 volumes of CDs and 3 DVDs.

Doreen Ketchens, the leader of the group, has been called "Queen Clarinet," "The female Louis Armstrong,"  and “Lady Louie” by critics who have heard her perform. She has performed with Ellis Marsalis, Jon Faddis, Trombone Shorty, Al Hirt, Dorothy Donagan, The Black Crowes and Jennifer Warrens, to name a few. Her husband, Lawrence plays the Tuba, Valve Trombone and Piano with the group.  He sometimes plays the Sousaphone and Drums  -- at the same time.  He also arranges and produces music. Lawrence has also performed with  Pete Fountain, Trombone Shorty, Al Hirt, Jon Faddis, Teddy Riley, Danny Barker and countless others.  

The newest addition to the group, Miss Dorian Ketchens-Dixon is a very talented drummer. She premiered her talents at age four and she now travels the world as the drummer for Doreen’s Jazz. Dorian has performed at festivals worldwide including the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival for six years.

Critics have raved about Doreen's Jazz New Orleans for decades. After their performance for the Dubuque Winter Jazz Festival, Rob Kindert from the Telegraph Herald wrote, "The headlining band for the 2nd annual Dubuque Winter Jazz festival had the Grand Opera House jumping! It's not just the music. Doreen Ketchens flat out lights up a room. Her smile and quick wit complimented her superb talent on the clarinet and the wide-ranging resonance of her voice that would've made Louis Armstrong proud."

It is almost impossible to sit through a performance of Doreen's Jazz New Orleans without moving in your seat, shouting, clapping, or tapping your feet. During the 2012 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, a man jumped up from his wheelchair and led the Second Line around the Economy Hall Tent. “Now that’s music that moves”!

Cedric Mangum and Company


United House of Prayer Shout Band


Nearly a century ago, Marcelina Manoel da Graça, otherwise known as “Daddy Grace,” founded the United House of Prayer for All People. With this congregation began a new era of gospel, a new passion for the Holy Spirit, and—most of all—a new sound of music coming from a new style of bands.

Shout bands.    It’s the kind of band that Charlotte’s Cedric Mangum knows very well. He’s the leader of the popular gospel brass shout band, Mangum & Company, and he has been moved by the music since he was seven years old. He started on the drums and ended up lead trombonist. In fact, Mangum knows all the shout instruments. At 13, he became the leader of the Charlotte Mother House’s legendary Bailey Clouds of Heaven. Today, at 55, he still plays that role.           

Mangum & Company is a hearty combination of 20 to 30 outstanding musicians from congregations across the Charlotte area. Their music boasts an African American flair that focuses on brass instruments associated with jazz and gospel hymns.

North Carolina has been a hotbed for “shout bands” ever since Daddy Grace left his mark in Charlotte in 1926, with approximately 20 bands sharing their joyful noise across the state. Charlotte alone has 17 United House of Prayer congregations and nearly as many shout bands; Mangum & Company is made up of “all-stars” from those congregational bands.

Mangum & Company’s music is for the spiritual and the secular, the weak and strong, the poor and rich. The music runs transcend the physical and material world. “This is all for the soul, meaning it’s not designed for the dollar,” Mangum says. “I’m not trying to make a living doing this.”

Mangum hopes that the music affects his listeners in the same way it affects him. To Mangum, the music is a healing presence, and there’s more to it than just reading sheet music. “Somebody who’s sick can be healed. Somebody who’s burdened down, their burdens can be lifted. Our music can soothe a lot of things in our lives,” Mangum says. “It’s one thing reading music on a sheet, but playing it is different. What makes the music on the sheet come to life is the spirit we bring to it.”

Mangum is part of a congregation that is one of about 130 congregations nationwide. What keeps shout band musicians so resilient is their undeniable faith in God and his mercy. Mangum truly believes that through his music, he is a vessel of God.

“The faith that I have is knowing that whatever I’m going through, God is going to bring me out of it,” Mangum says. “It’s knowing that we have that blessed hope.”

“It’s a spiritual sound,” Mangum says. “The truth is that God is in our music.”

And soon, Mangum & Company will have the opportunity to share their heavenly sound with thousands of people at the 2017 Montana Folk Festival.

Performers previously announced --

  • The Quebe Sisters (Western Swing)
  • The Gibson Brothers (Bluegrass)
  • Toronzo Cannon Band (Blues)
  • Bruce Daigrepont Cajun Band (Cajun)
  • Alash Ensemble (Tuvan Throat Singing)
  • The Maguire Family Band (Irish)
  • Sri Lankan Dance Academy (Sri Lankan Dance)

For details as they develop, visit www.montanafolkfestival.com or on Facebook at mtfolkfest.


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