2020 Performers

For performance times, see the Schedule.

Confirmed artists include:

Alexa Rose – From Virginia’s Allegheny Highlands, Alexa Rose’s sound is based in Appalachian music with a soaring, multidimensional style all her own.

Ayla McDonald – This Urbana-local’s lilting vocal style draws inspiration from the flow of the seasons as they change and from the folk traditions of the United Kingdom. Tune in for an assortment of traditional ballads from across the pond.  Matt Turino of Meadowhawk accompanying on fiddle.

Backdoor Cajun Band – These local favorites will dish up a hearty mix of traditional Cajun music that includes graceful waltzes, lively two-steps and get-down Zydeco. Move aside the furniture and get ready to dance.

Black Banjo Reclamation Project featuring Hannah Mayree and Seemore Love is a cultural and land- based revival project that centers the Black community by reclaiming ancestral wisdom and moving forward with innovations through prospectives of Afro-futurism.

Deep Fried Pickle Project (Family, Jug Band) is a delectable musical treat. The Pickle Project has performed at Lollapalooza, Telluride Bluegrass Festival, High Sierra, Wakarusa as well as picnics, bars, baptisms, theaters, bathtubs and festivals across North America. They also fought to victory at the 2012 and 2016 Chicago Jug Band Battles.

Dewclaw and Bones Jugs Family Show – Two wacky local bands collide in this family friendly set that will bring a smile to your face..

Dom Flemons (Folk, Americana, Blues) is a GRAMMY Award Winner, Two-Time EMMY Nominee, and 2019 WAMMIE Award Winner. You couldn’t get enough of him last time, so we’re bringing him back. Known as “The American Songster,” his repertoire covers over 100 years of American folklore, ballads, and tunes so we are dipping from a deep, deep well.

Hot Club of Cowtown

Hot Club of Cowtown – This Austin-based western-swing/jazz trio is known for virtuosity and their engaging spirit. Hot and sweet.

Jake Blount is an award-winning banjoist, fiddler, singer and scholar based in Providence, RI. He is half of the internationally touring duo Tui, a 2020 Strathmore Artist in Residence and a board member of Bluegrass Pride. He specializes in the music of Black and indigenous communities in the southeastern United States, and in the regional style of Ithaca, New York. He foregrounds the experiences of queer people and people of color in his work.

Jean-Rene Balekita and Laeticia Kyungu are local community favorites who mix a variety of styles — African traditional music, Congolese rumba, gospel music and the flavor of jazz — performed on the guitar, kora, ndara and percussion.

Kyshona Armstrong (Singer-Songwriter) – Since appearing at the 2019 festival, Kyshona released her first LP Listen. “It’s for every silent scream, every heavy load, every fearful thought, and the simmering sense of anger that the silenced, the lost, and the forgotten try to hide from the world.” See her now so that someday you can say you saw her when.

Lilli Lewis has composed in every tradition that inspires her, including soul, Americana, classical, folk, jazz, rock, gospel, blues, soul and R&B. Lewis integrated elements of New Orleans funk while singing lead for Dirty Dozen Brass Band founding member Kirk Joseph’s Backyard Groove. After carving out space for herself as an African-American lesbian of size, Lewis is lending her voice to the music industry’s need to diversify its precepts about looks, sexuality and marketability.

Little Miss Ann (Family) – As an educator, Little Miss Ann was perfecting her Zoom game even before the lockdowns started. She’ll have the whole family singing and dancing while “Safe at Home.”

Meadowhawk plays traditional and original tunes for contra dances and other events. Claire Johnson – fiddle Amanda Ramey – fiddle Matt Turino – guitar and feet

Milly Raccoon – Based in New Orleans, Milly fiddles and sings original songs inspired by classic country, bluegrass and jazz.

Nikki D Brown and the Sisters of Thunder (Gospel) – These fierce women nearly brought the roof down when they played the festival in 2018. If you missed that, don’t make the same mistake twice! Nikki’s lap steel playing is so elevated Guitar World calls her “the Jimi Hendrix of Sacred Steel.” She carries on the African-American gospel tradition of using lap steel and pedal steel guitars in her own wild and totally unique way.

Robert E. Brown Center for World Music premieres a short video highlighting unique instruments of the world presented by four international artists based in Urbana-Champaign. Denis Chiaramonte, Jean-René Balekita, I Ketut Gede Asnawa, and Joy Yang introduce themselves and instruments they play, which are all featured in a final work realized by Jason Finkelman, program coordinator for the center.

So Long June – “From country crooning to original electric-melancholy; So Lune June has a warm soundscape to make you feel more.”

Taylor Steel and the Love Preachers – Unfortunately, they’ve had to cancel their appearance. Maybe next year!