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Doucet, Michael  

Barry Jean Ancelet

(b Lafayette, LA, Feb 14, 1951). American fiddler, guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter. Doucet has become arguably the most widely recognized Cajun musician ever. His formative influences within Cajun and Creole music include acknowledged masters such as Dewey Balfa, Canray Fontenot, and especially Dennis McGee, as well as lesser-known but no less important masters such as Varise Conner, Lionel Leleux, and Hector Duhon. Other influences include the folk rock, country, and swamp pop influences of his youth. Doucet first approached Cajun music in the 1970s in a group called Bayou des Mystères. He then founded a rock-country-Cajun fusion band called Coteau, the first such band to attract the attention of the younger university crowds. After Coteau dissolved, Doucet turned to his long-running band Beausoleil, which was informed by an eclectic collection of influences that reflect the complex history of Cajun music, including traditional, classical, rock, and jazz elements. Beausoleil has played all over the world and recorded more than 30 albums for many labels, including Swallow, Arhoolie, Rounder, Rhino, and Alligator. These albums have garnered 11 Grammy nominations and two wins. Doucet has also recorded albums with other musicians, including Marc and Ann Savoy, Ed Poullard, and his brother David Doucet. He has performed with symphony orchestras and with the Fiddlers Four. Along the way, he has made ingenious use of old material, for example, turning unaccompanied ballads that John and Alan Lomax collected in Louisiana in ...


Gjirokastër National Folklore Festival  

Grijda Spiri

Albanian cultural festival. The National Folklore Festival of Albania was first held in 1968 in the ancient castle of Gjirokastër and continued regularly every five years until 1988. The political changes occurring in the country during the transition to democracy put the festival on hold for seven years. In 1995, the government decided to move the festival from Gjirokastër to the castle of Berat, an ancient, UNESCO-protected city in central Albania. However, strong protests from professional musicians, participants, and music lovers, brought the festival back to Gjirokastër in 2000. The festival has since then taken place in 2004, 2009, and 2015. Because of the devastating 6.4 magnitude earthquake and later the COVID-19 pandemic, the government postponed and canceled all activities planned for 2020 and 2021.

The format and content of this festival have evolved over time. Prior to the 1990s, the themes of songs were primarily related to politics and the ideology of the time. Each group was obliged to sing songs dedicated to the dictator Enver Hoxha. Many of the songs would praise the Socialist Party, the National Liberation War, and Albania’s natural beauty. The participants of this festival had to demonstrate unwavering support and strong alignment with the government ideology. Individuals with even a single instance of persecution in their family history would be barred from participation. The professional music directors responsible for the different groups were responsible for bringing together the participants and preparing the group for the performance. These trained participating musicians would travel around the villages collecting raw materials, which would later be arranged in notated music and songbooks. These songs had to receive the final approval from the political bureau where the lyrics of the songs were inspected....


Griffith, Nanci  

Jada Watson

(b Seguin, TX, July 6, 1953; d Nashville, Aug 13, 2021). American country/folksinger-songwriter. She grew up in a musical home, began playing guitar at a young age, and started writing songs at the age of six. When she was 14 she began performing in honky-tonks. After college Griffith taught kindergarten by day and performed in honky-tonks at night. It was not until 1977 that she decided to pursue a career in music. She self-promoted her first two albums at folk festivals and formed her own backing band, the Blue Moon Orchestra. In 1987 she landed a recording contract with MCA Nashville and made her major-label debut with the critically acclaimed album Lone Star State of Mind, charting a single with the title track. The album also featured Julie Gold’s song “From a Distance,” which became Griffith’s signature tune. After several unsuccessful albums Griffith transferred to MCA’s pop division in ...


Los Pleneros de la 21  

Melanie Maldonado

Plena and bomba group. Los Pleneros de la 21 (LP21) have the distinction of being the longest-running group to specialize in performing Puerto Rican Plena and Bomba in the continental United States. Since 1983, this New York City-based, intergenerational group has taken these traditional genres from their local New York community to the international stage. The group has produced five albums that both celebrate traditional AfroPuerto Rican music and fuse it with other genres of their urban soundscape. LP21 was founded in the South Bronx by National Heritage Fellow Juan Gutierrez-Rodriguez and contemporaries who included Edgardo Miranda and Eugenia Ramos. Other luminaries who contributed to the evolution of the Grammy-nominated group include famed plena musician (plenero) Marcial Reyes and the distinctive bomba musician (bombero) Roberto Cepeda, a member of one of Puerto Rico’s premier musical families. The members of LP21 are more than musicians and dancers; they are educators and cultural activists who invest their time into their local community by providing workshops for children and adults in the historic community of El Barrio in Manhattan. Today LP21 boasts a membership and group of alumni that includes some of the most well respected pleneros and bomberos in the United States and Puerto Rico....



Herom Vargas

A musical and cultural movement that emerged and developed in Recife, the capital of the state of Pernambuco, in northeast Brazil, in the early 1990s. Produced by young musicians, the objective was to shift the city’s cultural scene, combining genres and sonorities of international pop music, such as funk, rock, and rap, with genres linked to local traditions, such as maracatu, ciranda, and caboclinhos. The posture of these young people was critical of public authorities, who did not give opportunities to new artists, and of the sameness of local radio and TV programming.

Their proposal was to develop the movement by energizing the music scenes in the city of Recife through a ‘do it yourself’ approach – as was the case with punk rock – with concerts, promotions, and contacts with journalists. In 1991, they released the manifesto Caranguejos com Cérebro (‘Crabs with Brain’), written by Fred 04, leader of the band Mundo Livre S/A. Three metaphors portray the movement’s proposal in this text, also published in the album ...


Prine, John  

Ken Tucker

revised by Art Menius

(b Maywood, IL, Oct 10, 1946; d Nashville, TN, April 7, 2020). Americana, folk, and country singer and songwriter. His first album, John Prine (1971), included the enduring “Sam Stone,” about the plight of Vietnam veterans, and “Hello in There,” which dealt with the insensitive treatment of elderly people. The recording brought him critical acclaim and an enthusiastic cult following but little mainstream success, a pattern that continued. Starting with 1975’s Common Sense, he explored country, rock, and rockabilly as platforms for his prolific compositions and often surprising covers. Prine’s lyrics mix the topical with the surreal, often portraying ordinary people attempting to deal with extraordinary times in absurd, humorous, or painfully sad ways. His songs have been recorded by performers as diverse as Bonnie Raitt, Johnny Cash, Norah Jones, Jim & Jesse, and Bette Midler. A 2010 album featured popular young artists such as the Avett Brothers covering Prine compositions....


Rice, Tony  

David Royko

[David Anthony ]

(b Danville, VA, June 8, 1951). American guitarist and singer. Influential in bluegrass, newgrass, and jazz-inflected new acoustic music, Rice was strongly influenced by Kentucky Colonels/Byrds guitarist Clarence White. Raised in Los Angeles, he moved to Louisville, Kentucky in 1970 and joined Bluegrass Alliance at invitation of mandolinist Sam Bush after meeting in a jam session. In 1971 he joined J.D. Crowe and the New South, appearing on their acclaimed eponymous Rounder LP, often referred to by its catalog number “0044.” In 1975 he returned to California and joined the David Grisman Quintet, an instrumental ensemble; he appeared on their eponymous album (Kaleidoscope, 1977). In 1979 he left Grisman to focus on his solo career, ultimately releasing more than a dozen albums (primarily on Rounder). As leader of the Tony Rice Unit, he emphasized instrumental new acoustic music, dubbed “spacegrass” by Rice, while albums released under his name typically included vocals and relatively straight bluegrass and singer-songwriter material. His exploration of the music of other songwriters, most notably Gordon Lightfoot, established Rice as a major vocalist in bluegrass and acoustic folk music before health problems curtailed his singing. From ...


Tanaka, Seiichi  

Paul J. Yoon

(b 1943, Tokyo, Japan). taiko master of Japanese birth. He is widely regarded as the father of North American Taiko. He first traveled to the United States in 1967 and noted the absence of taiko drumming at Japanese American festivals in San Francisco and elsewhere. Determined to change that situation, Tanaka returned to Japan to study with, among others, Daihachi Oguchi, founder of Osuwa Daiko. Tanaka returned to the United States and in 1968 opened the San Francisco Taiko Dojo, the first school of its kind in America. It is Tanaka’s oft-stated goal to make taiko as well known as sushi or karate.

Since his initial training, Tanaka has studied with Susumu Kowase (Sukeroku Taiko), Shosaku Ikeda (Gojinjo Taiko), and Kiyohiko Fukuhara (Yokobue flute) and has also trained in kabuki dance and martial arts. The breadth of this training in drumming, dance, flute, and martial arts has made him a major influence for nearly every North American taiko player. In addition, Tanaka has always been open to teaching anyone, with no restrictions on age or gender, so long as they can withstand the rigorous physical conditioning he demands of his students....


Thile, Chris(topher Scott)  

Joti Rockwell

(b Oceanside, CA, Feb 20, 1981). American mandolinist and singer. Learning bluegrass mandolin as a child in Southern California, he began his musical career with a victory at the Walnut Valley Mandolin Championship at age 12, an appearance as part of the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Bluegrass Youth All-Stars also in 1993, and his first solo album Leading Off (Sugar Hill) the following year. His band Nickel Creek, which included Sean Watkins (b Vista, CA, 18 Feb 1977) on guitar and Sara Watkins (b Vista, CA, 8 June 1981) on fiddle, performed throughout the 1990s and released their eponymous album on Sugar Hill in 2000. Produced by Alison Krauss, the album established a number of musical hallmarks for the band: polished vocal harmonies, contemporary songwriting, and virtuosic, progressive-bluegrass-oriented instrumental work.

During his tenure with Nickel Creek, Thile pursued a variety of solo projects, including collaborations with Mike Marshall and Béla Fleck. After achieving an unusual degree of commercial success for a bluegrass-related band, Nickel Creek ceased touring and recording in ...


Walker, Jerry Jeff  

D. Cusic

revised by Travis Stimeling

[Crosby, Ronald Clyde]

(b Oneonta, NY, March 16, 1942; d Austin, TX, Oct 23, 2020). American folk and country singer, guitarist, and songwriter. A high-school dropout, he traveled around the United States playing banjo, guitar, and other instruments and singing a repertory consisting principally of songs by Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, and Jimmie Rodgers. By the early 1960s, he was performing at Greenwich Village folk clubs and on college campuses across the country, finding particular success among Texan audiences in Houston, Dallas–Fort Worth, and Austin. In 1966, while in Austin, he met Bob Bruno, with whom he formed the folk-rock band Circus Maximus; it recorded an album for Vanguard in 1967.

Around the same time, Walker also earned success as a songwriter, notably with “Mr. Bojangles” (1968), a hit for the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band in 1971. Also in 1971, Walker relocated to Texas, where he became a luminary in Austin’s emerging progressive country music scene. In ...


Watson, Doc  

Bill C. Malone

revised by Joti Rockwell

[Arthel Lane ]

(b Deep Gap, NC, March 3, 1923; d Winston-Salem, NC, May 29, 2012). American country- and folk-music singer, guitarist, banjoist, and harmonica player. Blind likely from birth, he was active as a local musician until his 1960 encounter with folklorist Ralph Rinzler. He gave his first northern concerts as part of a group led by the banjoist Clarence “Tom” Ashley and subsequently pursued an independent career, performing at the Newport Folk Festival and signing with Vanguard Records in 1963. At Rinzler’s suggestion, he emphasized more traditional musical elements, focused his efforts on the acoustic rather than the electric guitar, and gained popularity among folk-revival audiences throughout the 1960s. His son (Eddy) Merle (b Deep Gap, NC, 8 Feb 1949; d nr Lenoir, NC, 23 Oct 1985) began performing with him in 1964 and quickly developed as an acoustic guitarist. In 1972, Watson joined “Mother” Maybelle Carter, Earl Scruggs, and other leading country-music artists on ...