45th Folk Festival brings new sounds to Kent State


Submitted photo.

Max Secre

KentWired Video

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The 45th annual Kent State Folk Festival featured live music and many hands-on workshops for participants to experience folk culture.

“The thing about folk music is that it’s community based, bringing together the community and having people share their instruments,” said Ann VerWiebe, festival volunteer and marketing associate for WKSU. “People get to learn something and have some fun.”

The Folk Festival featured artists such as the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and Grammy-winning group, Carolina Chocolate Drops.

Friday was Folk Alley ‘Round Town, which had live music throughout Kent at more than 36 venues.

“People learn a lot about folk music and are exposed to things you don’t hear on the radio,” VerWiebe said.

On Saturday, the festival held more than 40 free community workshops.

“The workshops are absolutely beneficial,” said Jim Pecchio, a Kent State alum. “I sat in on a contradance class and they were just singing, and it was definitely informative. Folk is more than a style of music, it’s a lifestyle, and there is a lot more that goes with it.”

The workshops featured several different styles of music for people to hear and experience. Several workshops focused on specific instruments such as the banjo, ukulele, mandolin and guitar. Workshops also focused on different styles in dance and folk music. One class taught participants how to hula dance and another had people swing dancing.

During the day’s classroom events, there was a lack of student involvement and VerWiebe said she wished more students had taken advantage of the workshops.

“Its free and students can even bring their own instruments and play,” VerWiebe said.

Arien Wolf-Knight, freshman political science major, said he did not see many students involved in the workshops.

“(Kent is) kind of a folky town, but campus doesn’t have that anymore,” Wolf-Knight said.

Even though Wolf-Knight said he thought the campus lacked interest in folk music, he took part in a fiddle styles workshop.

“It was more of the artists talking about their styles and playing their music,” said Wolf-Knight. “ Different artists played off each other and complimented each other.”

Pecchio said the event gave students something fun to do on a Saturday.

“Folk isn’t what you think it is,” Pecchio said. “You’ve got to come down and check it out. It’s an experience.”

Contact Max Secre at [email protected].