The Takoma Park Folk Festival Returns In-Person This September

by Patrick Herron

Per the City of Takoma Park:
The Takoma Park Folk Festival is returning in-person on Sunday, September 11, after two years of virtual performances due to COVID-19. “We’re calling it ‘regroovinate,’” said Debra St. Charles, this year’s program chair. “It’s a combination of regeneration and groovy … and it represents that we are rejoicing and rebuilding.”

“It’s very exciting,” added Gordon Nimmo-Smith, who oversees sound engineering and logistics. “All of us on the committees love producing an in-person festival and engaging with our audience.”

Music will begin with the DC Labor Chorus at 10 a.m. and run through 6:30 p.m. at Takoma Park Middle School. As always, the festival will be free, family-friendly, and filled with music, crafts, food vendors, and community information booths.

However, none of the activities will be held indoors. “To provide greater safety from COVID, we are using the school grounds, but not the inside of the school,” explained festival Chair Robin Stearn. Without indoor access, the festival will have four stages rather than the typical six performance venues. But the two “absent” stages will have time slots on the others. “It’s complicated, but we’re working through the logistics,” St. Charles said.

Subtle differences in the program will be evident to long-time visitors this year. “We’ve really tried to present a more diverse lineup… with more people who have not performed before and more styles of music,” St. Charles said.

Among festival first-timers are New Orleans-style blues Sol Roots, award-winning singer-songwriter Jillian Matundan, and bluegrass group No Part of Nothin’. Also, world music group Project Locrea, which won a 2022 Washington Area Music Award, will introduce festival attendees to its fusion sound that jumps across jazz, African, Asian, and Latin American traditions.

Visitors looking for singer-songwriters will be pleased by the return of Michelle Swan and the lush sounds of Quiet the Mountain, a new band of veteran guitarists Christian Alfonso and Jimmy Stewart. Plus, the festival also will welcome a youth rock band, sitarist Sambarta Rakshit, the Washington Revels Maritime Voices, and much more.

The festival’s non-musical activities will be intact, though renovations at the school have led to changes in the festival’s geography, according to Nimmo-Smith. “We will have the full crafts show and about half of the community tables on the basketball courts, and the kids’ games on the tennis courts nearby,” he said. “The Field Stage will return to Lee Jordan Field below the school, opening up more space for the audience.”

Providing the weather cooperates, the festival’s organizers expect a large crowd. “I’ve really enjoyed seeing live music again,” said Stearn, “and I know many other people feel the same way. This is a time for us to celebrate—not just music, but crafts, community groups, food, and friends. It will be so good for all of us to come together again.”


This article was featured in the August 2022 Newsletter. Visit the Takoma Park Newsletter webpage to see the full list of past newsletters.


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