BOONVILE — Tickets for the 22nd annual Big Muddy Folk Festival, April 5 & 6 had a lively first day of sales Jan. 21, and festival organizers are enthusiastic about this year's lineup of artists all new to the festival. Plenty of excellent seats are still available for the event at Thespian Hall sponsored by the Friends of Historic Boonville.
"We are very excited about the level of talent and musicianship represented in this year's roster," said Dave Para, festival artistic director. "We have several very creative and highly skilled artists, some of whom have dedicated many years mindful of folk traditions and have attained reputations high and wide. This should be a very rewarding festival."
With few exceptions the acts are all new to the Big Muddy, and all bring with them new perspectives on the folk tradition. "Over the years the festival has made many friends, most of whom wish to return, and we usually feature returning guests as part of the festival," Para said, "but this year it seemed to work out that the folks we wanted to have most were new to the event."
Friday's concert will feature the duo Notorious, with Larry Unger and Eden MacAdam-Somer, one of the most exciting young violinists and singers on the scene; harpist Eileen Gannon, whose family founded the St. Louis Irish Arts organization; the Wright Family, more recent and zealous converts to old-time music, and festival stalwarts Para and his wife, Cathy Barton, who return every year by popular demand. Saturday will feature Weavermania! a tribute group bringing the music of the start of the folk revival; renowned singer and writer Anne Hills; contemporary dulcimer performer Bing Futch; and the eclectic Alferd Packer Memorial String Band.
Workshops will highlight additional dimensions of the performers' talents. Weavermania's Michael Smith, for example, is one of America's more exquisite songwriters and has worked extensively with Anne Hills. The players in the other bands share common musical interests not necessarily represented in their set lists. The sessions on Saturday should prove enjoyable at Thespian Hall, Turner Hall and First Presbyterian and Christ Episcopal churches. The schedule is still a work in progress, but expect song and instrumental sessions, including the Missouri Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program masters and apprentices. Terry Smith's Big Muddy BBQ will return to happily smoke up the place.
Tickets are $22 for each evening and $39 for both nights. Admission to all Saturday daytime sessions is only $5 and free with festival tickets. Purchase them online at www.friendsofhistoricboonville.org.
The Friends of Historic Boonville are supported by the Missouri Arts Council, the Isle of Capri Hotel & Casino, and the City of Boonville Tourism Commission. For more information, call 660-882-7977, 888-588-1477, or write P.O. Box 1776, Boonville MO 65233. Consult the festival website www.bigmuddy.org for updated information.
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