This article originally appeared in PureHoney Magazine. Check them out here.
While folk music might not define the Miami mystique, the folk music scene in the Magic City has long flourished in dimly lit cafes, backyard gatherings, and sometimes on big concert stages.
Building on that energy has been a challenge. Laura Quinlan of the Rhythm Foundation says that she and other local music programmers and supporters have been trying for years to launch a folk festival “that really feels like Miami.”
“I felt like it was a really, really deep well to explore,” Quinlan said. “There’s just so much fun that we can have with a Miami folk festival.”
The idea gets its first test in a while in January with the inaugural Miami Folkways, thanks to the Rhythm Foundation — a Miami-based nonprofit that brings international music to U.S. audiences — and its partners in the new festival: Michael Stock of WLRN-FM’s Folk and Acoustic Music program, former Tobacco Road booker Mark Weiser, and Rebecca Friedman of the FIU Wolfsonian Humanities Lab.
Premiering at the Miami Beach Bandshell with a theme of “Sounds Like Home,” the festival is free and open to all ages, and it hopefully won’t be the last. “We’re not the first to try to do this,” Quinlan says. “But we’re trying to do it with a Rhythm Foundation stamp, with a little bit of an international focus.”
The line-up as of press time includes alt-folk legend and indie film actor Bonnie “Prince” Billy (aka Will Oldham), who was serendipitously in town during the festival date. Also performing are the community-sourced Miami Sound Choir, Haitian-American singer-songwriter Inez Barlatier, and folk-rock group Still Blue.
As far as what to expect from year one at Miami Folkways, Quinlan says, “All of the organizers of the festival are feeling really politically engaged this year, and we were inspired by the tradition of protest through folk music. We hope that feeling of communal activism that has powered folk music for centuries will power our programming this year.”
Miami Folkways: Sounds Like Home runs 6-10pm Sunday, January 21 at Miami Beach Bandshell.