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Song & dance: Albuquerque Folk Festival aims to foster a ‘sense of community’

Bluegrass.

Celtic.

Gyspy swing.

Indie Folk.

Ben Hunter and Joe Seamons will perform in Albuquerque. (Courtesy of Amber-Zbitnoff)

These are just a few of the genres of music that the Albuquerque Folk Festival will showcase on Saturday, June 15.

The festival has been around 21 years, and this year it’s beginning a new chapter, moving to Bosque School on Albuquerque’s West Side.

“There is more space at Bosque, and we can utilize it a lot more,” says Erika Gerety-Libman, event director. “In previous years, we almost lost tents due to the wind. We’ll have more space and will have to use less tents in this area. We’re less exposed in the new space.”

The Albuquerque Folk Festival will have three stages, with about 30 performances from national and regional acts.

The three stages are called Sandia, Jemez and Bosque.

Sandia will be outdoors, Jemez will be in the school’s theater, and Bosque will take be in the school’s band room.

Bands scheduled to perform include Danny Santos, T Sisters, Ben Hunter & Joe Seamons, Le Chat Lunatique, the Adobe Brothers and the Hoth Brothers.

In addition to music, the event will also feature plenty of dance.

“There’s more variety, ranging from Hawaiian to folklorico to East Indian, Cuban, klezmer, belly dance and tango,” she says. “We also have five workshop venues.”

Those include everything from Celtic mandolin to cello for folk music and everything in between, she says.

“It’s super-accessible,” Gerety-Libman says. “There’s also an instrument workshop and a children’s tent that will also have storytelling.”

Gerety-Libman says the Albuquerque Folk Festival is focused on public participation and is about teaching, not just entertainment.

The goal of the festival is to pass on knowledge, skills and traditions to ensure the survival of folk activities.

“We see the teaching of folk activities as a process of encouraging creative expression and fostering a sense of community,” she says. “Participation in folk activities can reconnect individuals with their neighbors, and participation in folk activities across cultures may encourage cultural tolerance.”

One of the events Gerety-Libman is looking forward to is the band scramble.

The premise is that musicians will put their name and instrument they play into a hopper.

“At the end of the day, they will mix them into bands, about five musicians in each,” she says. “They don’t know each other and will have one hour to come up with a band name and two songs to perform. It’s a very friendly competition.”

Food trucks and other vendors will also be on site.

And a consignment table will be there where visitors can purchase instruments.

“We’re sort of unusual in the way that we’re participation-oriented,” Gerety-Libman says. “Seventy-five percent of our festival is based on participation. It’s also a volunteer-run festival and takes a lot of hours to plan. The community continues to support us, and we’re grateful to be able to still be growing the community.”

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