New Bedford Folk Festival returns for 18th year

Photo Credits: NB Folk Festival
Photo Credits: NB Folk Festival

By Jeffrey D. Wagner
June 25. 2014 4:04PM

NEW BEDFORD — New England used to be called a “folk heaven,” according to Alan Korelenko.

Korelenko, along with his wife Helene, is the artistic director of the New Bedford Folk Festival. The two next month will help deliver a piece of that heaven to folk lovers all over the region and beyond.

The 2014 New Bedford Folk Festival in some form has been in existence since 1996. It will feature the best in contemporary, traditional and Celtic folk music Saturday, July 5 and Sunday, July 6, between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Featured among the nearly 50 musical acts will be Chris Smither, Jonathan Edwards, John Gorka, Poor Old Shine, Vance Gilbert, Christine Lavin and Don White, the Celtic group RUNA and Grammy Award-winning children’s entertainer Bill Harley, according to a written release.

The festival is located in the Zeiterion Performing Arts Center and the Whaling National Historical Park in New Bedford.

It was selected as a Yankee Magazine “Editor’s Choice” for 2014, also according to a written release.

This year, performers will be tuning their guitars, banjos and ukuleles to the Tall Ship, Charles W. Morgan, which will be docked at the State Pier in New Bedford within walking distance from the festival and will be open to the public, the release states.

Korelenko couldn’t say enough about the acts or how the festival has evolved over the years.

He said when it first started, it resembled more of a food festival. Now, it is more about the music, with multiple stages set up. There is a stage set up for local performers, paying tribute to the region’s folk roots.

“We couldnt sustain a festival this size without a local interest,” he said.

“New England has sort of retained its attraction to folk music. They used to call it folk heaven. There were so many festivals,” Korelenko also said about folk’s New England origins.

Among the new performers will be the innovative RUNA, a celtic fusion band led by singer Shannon Lambert-Ryan. This “terrific band” reminds Korelenko of a recent trend — more young people are becoming intrigued with Appalachian, folk and roots music.

The group Poor Old Shine is also indicative of that trend, according to Korelenko.

Returning veteran performers that Korelenko highlighted include Chris Smither, who began playing in the 1960s. He has been a regular at the folk festival since the beginning, wowing audiences with his unique blend of traditional blues, along with his own material and style.

Harley, a Grammy winner for his children’s music, will be doing a children’s concert. He will also be playing music geared toward an adult audience.

The music styles will run the gamut from singer-songwriters, Celtic, blues, Americana and roots music.

There will be seven stages in and around the Whaling National Park that range from the 1,200-seat Zeiterion Performing Arts Center to the intimate “Meet the Performer” area, according to a written release.

Performers will be presented in concerts and in the popular festival “workshops,” which feature three performers or groups on stage at the same time in one-time, unique musical shows, also according to the release.

“The festival also features a high quality crafts show with over 90 juried, handmade crafts for sale at affordable prices. Food will also be available including the justifiably world famous New Bedford landed fish and scallops,” according to a release.

A limited number of Special VIP Weekend Passes with benefits are available by advance purchase only. A regular weekend admission purchased in advance online is $20; $15 by purchasing in person at the New Bedford Whaling Museum or the Zeiterion Performing Arts Center.

Prices during festival weekend are $20 a day; $25 weekend admission; $15 Student Weekend Admission with student ID. Children under 12 are free.

Featured among the nearly 50 musical acts will be Chris Smither, Jonathan Edwards, John Gorka, Poor Old Shine and the Celtic group RUNA.

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