NewsLocal News


From 'bomba y plena' to Sephardic Ladino, Montana Folk Festival in Butte features diverse lineup

Posted at 5:23 PM, Jul 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-08 19:23:17-04

BUTTE — The Montana Folk Festival is back in Butte and about to begin, and this year's event features a wide variety of performers from all over.

Among the acts scheduled to perform is Plena Es, a band that plays a Puerto Rican style of music called bomba y plena.

“They come out with his style of hand drums that you can walk with them. And they added lyrics to it and they spoke of politics, religion, gossip, everything down the street,” said Plena Es member Pierre Ramos.

The Miami-based band performs their songs in Spanish, but, even if audiences don’t understand the language, they will understand the music.

WATCH: Plena Es getting ready for the Montana Folk Festival

Plena Es getting ready for Montana Folk Festival

“We know there’s being that don’t even speak Spanish, but when we start playing, they start dancing and when we finish, they come to us and are so grateful,” said Plena Es member Juan Carlos Rivera.

Nani is a songwriter who sings in traditional Sephardic Ladino, an ancient language that is rapidly going extinct. The Amsterdam native is keeping the language alive through song.

“Now, there aren’t any people anymore that speak it as a mother tongue. My grandmother used to speak it and it’s kind of getting extinct as we speak. And my project is about reviving the language. And I’m trying to write new songs in a dead language,” said Nani.

The free, three-day music event will feature more than a dozen other performers on six stages, as it makes its return after being canceled the past two years.

“Seeing some dancing for a change, we haven’t seen dancing in the streets for a long time and we’re hoping people feel welcome and free to dance their hearts away,” said Folk Festival organizer George Everett.