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The 79th National Folk Festival

Sign of things to come. (On a sidewalk in Salisbury, MD)

If Music is a Place — then Jazz is the City, Folk is the Wilderness, Rock is the Road, Classical is a Temple.

~ Vera Nazarian

Yet our land is still troubled by men who have to hate
They twist away our freedom and they twist away our fate
Fear is their weapon and treason is their cry.
We can stop them if we try.

~ Phil Ochs, Power and Glory (1960’s folk/protest song)

At the Community Stage on Saturday.

M and I attended the 79th National Folk Festival up in Salisbury over the weekend.  The original plan was to go on Saturday and spend Sunday out on the water (go to the beach, go kayaking, or something).  But we had so much fun on Saturday that we went back on Sunday.

Jerry Douglas Trio on the stage. (Dobro master.  And if you’re like me and don’t know what a dobro is — it’s an acoustic guitar with a metal resonator built into it.)

All music is folk music.  I ain’t never heard a horse sing a song.

~ Louis Armstrong

Seated in the shade.

The weather was gorgeous on both days, albeit a little on the warm side.  The heat and sun seemed more intense on Sunday, but I think that’s because we arrived there earlier in the day (noon) and had more exposure to both.  We got kind of a late start on Saturday and didn’t get there until 2 PM and there was a bit more shade to be found as the day went on.

Storefronts in Salisbury.

You have to open your mind.  I like the ability to express myself in a deep way.  It’s the closest music to our humanity — it’s like a folk music that rises up out of culture.

~ Sonny Terry

Crabcakes. Because it’s the Eastern Shore and they are almost a requirement here.  (It should be noted, too, that there was a heavy police presence at the festival which, alas, is probably necessary now a’days.)

Folk music is defined as “music that originates in traditional popular culture or that is written in such a style. Folk music is typically of unknown authorship and is transmitted orally from generation to generation” (  There is traditional folk music and music from the folk revival of the 20th century (sometimes called contemporary folk music).  Folk music is also sometimes called world music since folks everywhere around the world have some kind of storytelling or community music.  Wikipedia lists certain characteristics that define folk music:

  • Transmitted orally.
  • Often related to national culture.
  • Might commemorate historical and personal events.
  • Could include a fusion of cultures.
  • No copyright on the songs (less frequent since the 1940’s).

That’s a quick and dirty (pared down/paraphrased) list.  You can find the entire list here.

The Wicomico River, which runs through Salisbury.

Pop stardom is not very compelling.  I’m much more interested in a relationship between performer and audience that is of equals.  I came up through folk music, and there’s no pomp and circumstance to the performance.  There’s no, like, “I’ll be the rock star, you be the adulating fan.”

~ Ani DiFranco

I like Ani DiFranco’s definition best.  Folk music is very down to earth, no matter where it comes from or how else you define it.

Heading to the dance tent to listen to some zydeco by Terry & the Zydeco Bad Boys (we missed most of their act on Saturday and went back on Sunday to make up for that).

As you can tell from the photos, I took the opportunity to practice a little street photography, something I don’t usually do.  It’s a big stretch for me.  I don’t feel comfortable photographing people, but it’s easier in a crowd.  I did not take the big camera with me so these were all taken with my phone.  Not the best way to go, I suppose, but certainly lighter.  Maybe next year I’ll take the big camera.  Salisbury will be hosting the National Folk Festival again in 2020, for their third year.  I’m not sure where it goes after that.

Over the bridge and railroad crossing.

Folk music — and what people are now perceiving as being folk music — is music that’s quite close to the ground.  The songs sound quite old, even if they’re new.  They sound like they’ve been sung by different people for years.

~ Johnny Flynn

The streets in the downtown area were blocked off to traffic which gave us an opportunity to explore some of the city on foot.

You might be wondering about the musicians and the lack of them in the photos included in this post.  I did take some photos of the folks on the stages.  Most did not come out well because we usually sat quite a ways back where the music wasn’t deafening or where there was shade available or where there was seating.  Some of the acts filled up the seats and then some (meaning, some were more popular than others).  M and I saw and listened to quite a variety, including attending a couple of the workshops.  I learned a lot about folk music, music in general, and some of the different cultures represented at the festival.

On the River Walk.

You can see it on the internet.  There’s an argument going on continually about, ‘What is folk music?’  And I don’t really want to get involved in that.  It’s an endless argument, a ‘How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?’ kind of argument.

~ Roger McGuinn

Salisbury Pride Flag.

Thank you for stopping by today and walking around Salisbury with me.  There might be more from the festival soon.  You know how that goes.  Sometimes I don’t get back to it.  Sometimes I do.  In the meantime, let’s meet out at the Point for sunset this evening.  Sunset is scheduled for 7:21 PM.  The weather is warm.  I think we’re going to hit the 90’s again.  But it’s breezy so it shouldn’t be too bad.

Be good, be kind, be love.  ♥

Grupo Nematatlin (son jarocho, a style of folk music from Veracruz, Mexico).

A few of the 10,000 reasons to be happy:  1,151)  A weekend filled with music, dance, and community.  1,152)  Sunny, breezy days.  1,153)  Trying out some of the various foods at the festival.  It wan’t all funnel cakes and food on a stick.  I was surprised by how much vegetarian food was available.  1,154)  Vegetarian food being better represented.  It’s not always easy to find at festivals of any sort.  1,155)  Friendly people.  Did you know that Salisbury is the first World Kindness City in the U.S.?  They even have a Kindness Ambassador.  (You can read a little about the World Kindness Movement here.)

Saturday evening reflections in Salisbury.


Robin is... too many things to list, but here is a start: an artist and writer; a photographer and saunterer; a daughter and sister and granddaughter; a friend, a partner, a wife, a mother, and a grandmother; a gardener, a great and imaginative cook, and the creator of wonderful sandwiches.

16 thoughts on “The 79th National Folk Festival

  1. Wonderful post, Robin and good on you for trying a new genre of photography 😉
    Boy, you guys still have the super hot weather whilst we are starting to feel fall nipping at our heels.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So nice to see Salisbury from your perspective. I was sharing this with D who spent much time there years ago when he was a federal inspector. He said it has changed seem since then…especially a Riverwalk! Nice! Thank you for this fun walk around and folk music educational piece. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re welcome, and thank you, Carrie. 🙂 Salisbury has changed quite a bit just in the time I’ve been here. They are still doing some work on the downtown area, making it more pedestrian friendly.

      Liked by 1 person

Comments are delightful and always appreciated. I will respond when I can (life is keeping me busy!), and/or come around to visit you at your place soon. Thank you!

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