Northwest Folklife Highlights

I know. . . I’m finally getting around to blogging about Memorial Day weekend’s Northwest Folklife now that it’s after the 4th of July. Now that we’ve finally even got summer weather. . . 

Percy Hilo & Friends

My Folklife started bright and early that Saturday to catch Percy Hilo, from my Amnesty International group, and his friends. OK. It wasn’t that bright out. It was cold and drizzling. It was early. .. at least for me on a Saturday (11 am).  In spite of the hour and weather, it was a spirited folk session and we packed the small stage where they were playing, and even had Northwest folk legend Jim Page in the audience.  They even got us to sing along. 

Vancouver Morris Men

After Percy’s set I wandered around and caught what seemed to be some traditional European folk dancing at the Mural Amphitheater, which included a contest that to me looked like two old men dancing and leaping around, trying to impress a younger woman who was, I seem to recall, the May Queen.  

According to my program, they were the Vancouver Morris Men, who perform traditional English dancing, theater and music, down from Vancouver, B.C. Dances and plays vary with the seasons of the year: 

These are the seasons when the Vancouver Morris Men perform COTSWOLD MORRIS. The dancers wear white clothes with bright sashes and jingling bells. They flick white hankies (probably to accentuate the hand movements) and vigorously clash sticks (possibly symbolizing ancient combat). The Cotswold dances are graceful, but virile. Music is to the pipe-and- tabor, melodeon or fiddle. The dancers are often accompanied by a bizarre “Beast”, and sometimes even a “Fool” dressed in an old farmers smock and carrying an inflated sheeps bladder. 

OK! Seriously – awesome! Obviously, our European ancestors had their, to us, bizarre, traditions that we’ve totally lost touch with. 

The Wanderers

I also caught some more recent traditional folk music from the 60s with The Wanderers, some blues from Howlin Houndog and the Infamous Loosers, bagpiping with the Northwest Junior Pipe Band, and the traditional Irish group, Fiddlehead, on that Saturday. 


 I came back Sunday to catch some more music.

Folk Dancing at Center House

People were getting folk dance lessons at the Center House, meanwhile, the Africa show was going on at the Mural Amphitheatre. 

Africa Show

I caught some traditional rock and roll later in the afternoon, with The Fabulous Hammers, from Ballard. 

The Fabulous Hammers

Here’s a little video from that day by tomking21 on YouTube  – Wasabi! 

Then it was time to go back to New Orleans for some zydeco, with Swamp Soul

Swamp Soul

OK, I think they’re from Ballard, too, but they had everyone dancing like they were in New Orleans! 

Zydeco Dancing

Here’s a video by wabarbee of them playing the Louisianathon a few years back: 

After that, and a quick rest break, I went off to try to get in to see Native American musicians & storytellers, Gene Tagaban and Swil Kanim, in one of the smaller inside venues, the Folklife Cafe. I didn’t hold out much hope, having seen the lines earlier, and figured I’d end up back outside listening to a second zydeco band. I got there just the right time, though, as the earlier act’s crowd was leaving. 

Guest Flutist, Swil Kanim & Gene Tagaban

It didn’t surprise me that Gene Tagaban and Swil Kanim played one extended show together, instead of separately as listed on the program. 

Here they are together from a show at the Seattle Art Museum last year by TheViolindian: 

Gene Tagaban also played The Raven once again: 

Gene Tagaban as Raven

It was nearly 10 pm when the show was over, and Seattle Center was shutting down for the night. There was one more show going on, though. Still dancing the night away, at the Mural Amphitheatre, were the Brazilians! 

Brazil Show

It’s always the Brazilians partying and having a good time! I live near both a Brazilian restaurant and store/cafe; and there is frequent music and dancing. I still remember the World Cup, it must be the one 4 years ago, when the Brazilians woke me up when they won and they were literally dancing in the street outside my apartment! 

Lots of music and fun at Folklife – and I only made part of a couple of days, having other things to catch up on Memorial Day weekend.


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