Here are a few of the performers we have lined up for this year’s festival! See the complete list (to date), and check back for additions PLUS information about dances, workshops, and all the other events that make this festival special.
Dom Flemons is a GRAMMY Award Winner, Two-Time EMMY Nominee, and 2019 WAMMIE Award Winner. Known as “The American Songster,” his repertoire covers over 100 years of American folklore, ballads, and tunes. Flemons is a music scholar, historian, record collector, and a multi-instrumentalist. He is considered an expert player on the Banjo, Fife, Guitar, Harmonica, Jug, Percussion, Quills, and Rhythm Bones.
In 2018, Flemons released an album titled “Dom Flemons Presents Black Cowboys” on GRAMMY Award-winning record label Smithsonian Folkways and received a GRAMMY Nomination for “Best Folk Album” at the 61st GRAMMY Awards.
Veretski Pass is one of the most highly regarded bands playing in today’s klezmer scene, offering a unique and exciting combination of virtuosic musicianship and raw energy that has excited concertgoers across the world. With colorful instrumentation, unique arrangements and compositions, Veretski Pass plays “Old Country” music; music with origins in the Ottoman Empire, once fabled as the borderlands of the East and the West. In a true collage of Carpathian, Jewish, Rumanian, and Ottoman styles, typical suites contain dances from Moldavia and Bessarabia; Jewish melodies from Poland and Rumania, Hutzul wedding music from Carpathian-Ruthenia, and haunting Rebetic aires from Smyrna, seamlessly integrated with original compositions. Much of this rare music has been gleaned from field recordings gathered by the musicians in numerous trips throughout Europe, as well as from family members.
The Gaslight Squares, based in St. Louis, take their name from the legendary (but alas, lost) historic entertainment district in that city. These fellas are keeping the tradition that city’s jazz/swing/ragtime sounds alive with bright trumpet leads, bar room piano, banjo and old-time harmonies. The Riverfront Times says “if the bricks of south city could sing, this is what they’d sound like.”
Lilli Lewis’ music is genre/identity bending, with a singular voice of rare grace and grit. Since taking up residency in New Orleans, Lilli’s scope has broadened to integrate elements of the funk rock vibe that was born and bred in the Crescent City. She has also taken a seat among tradition holders, singing lead for Dirty Dozen Brass Band founding member Kirk Jospeh’s Backyard Groove, and running Louisiana’s oldest indie record label, Louisiana Red Hot Records with a catalog that has included Trombone Shorty, Cyril Neville, and Allen Toussaint protogé Roland Guerin. Humbled by the charge to help build something forward thinking and positive for New Orleans and Louisiana musicians, Lewis says her end game is to bring more music industry to the city is while helping artists realize their vision of success.
Lewis herself has two releases on Louisiana Red Hot Records, her 2016 single “O, Let Your Light Shine Bright” and the 2018 critically acclaimed solo piano album “The Henderson Sessions.”
Whiskey Bent Valley Boys hail from the back woods of Bloomfield, Kentucky. They pay homage to their southern kin. Songs from the tobacco fields to the rivers, iron skillets to moonshine stills, upbeat and professional, this band possesses the skill to honor history and preserve the instrument, their style and every authentic nuance of the day. With their sense of fashion, From overalls to string ties, straw hats to silk vests, along with a turbo charged performance, their approach breathes fire into this vintage genre.
The Champaign-Urbana Folk and Roots Festival is an all-volunteer-run, grassroots festival that brings together national, regional and local artists and folk organizations for over 80 high-quality folk performances and participatory activities throughout downtown Urbana. The festival includes performances, dances, instructional sessions, jams, song-circles, family activities, storytelling, instrument-making and much, much more! The festival has a particular interest in evolving and unique forms of folk music and art, especially forms that break down barriers between audience and performers, while also providing the occasion to preserve local traditions and histories.
Stay tuned to this site and to our Facebook page for news of year-round festival happenings. As always, you can reach us on our Contact Us, Volunteer, and Sponsor pages. And if you aren’t already signed up for our newsletter, subscription sign-up is at the bottom of this page.