COVID-19 and the C-U Folk and Roots Festival

The C-U Folk and Roots Festival family is highly cognizant of the need for all of us to stay safe and healthy during this challenging time. All upcoming, in-person festival-sponsored events have been put on hold. In the meantime, we also recognize the incredible importance of music and the arts in our lives.

We strongly encourage everyone in our community to find ways to support the musicians whose livelihoods have suddenly disappeared. Watch their shows online and contribute via donate links. Buy their merch. Buy their music! Please also support our local businesses, especially the places that remain open and/or are selling online. Our local festival sponsors and partners include the Rose Bowl TavernPage Roasting CompanyBlack DogIron PostCommon Ground Food Co-op, the Music Shoppe, the Community Center for the Arts, and others.

First 2013 festival bookings!

Los Condenados Huastecos

Los Condenados HuastecosLos Condenados Huastecos (the condemned huastecos) are a Chicago-based trio that specializes in the son huasteco music of Mexico’s central gulf coast region. A variant of Mexican son-one of the country’s most emblematic traditional music-types-the huasteco style is distinguished by its virtuosic fiddle playing, canorous falsetto singing, and poetic improvisation. With parallel interests in bridging grassroots connections between the arts and local Latina/o communities, Los Condenados Huastecos have performed at cultural and educational events in the Chicago area, northern Indiana, and central Illinois. The group’s members include Alex Chávez (guitarra quinta huapanguera), Carlos García (jarana), and Juan Rivera (violin) of Latin Grammy Award-nominated Sones de México.

Danny Schmidt and Carrie Elkin

Danny Schmidt and Carrie ElkinDanny Schmidt is best known for his riveting poetic lyrics, which have drawn favorable comparisons to Leonard Cohen and Townes Van Zandt for their depth and complexity. The Chicago Tribune named him one of the 50 Most Significant Songwriters in the Last 50 Years, and Sing Out! called him “perhaps the best new songwriter we’ve heard in the last 15 years.” Gypsy spirit Carrie Elkin is best known for her incredibly soulful and dynamic vocals, which have drawn favorable comparisons to Patty Griffin at her most powerful, and Nanci Griffith at her most intimate.

Together, the respective strengths they each bring, individually, merge into a much greater whole . . . a performance of great energy and spirit . . . and one that audiences seem to be able to connect with on a multitude of levels, at once: emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually.

Don’t miss these two great artists in a rare split-bill performance, sharing songs back and forth, lending their voices to each other’s tunes, in harmony. And lending commentary to each other’s tunes, in the form of smart-ass between-song banter.

Red Sea Pedestrians

Red Sea PedestriansThe Red Sea Pedestrians are a one-of-a-kind, full-blown, instrument-swapping fusion between tradition and the here- and-now. We’re talkin’ high-energy world-beat grooves, hypnotic laments from the earth, songs of celebration and wonder: a warped and beautiful blend of Klezmer, Greek, Gypsy, Celtic, Jazz and American Roots, all filtered through the band’s original vision.

RSP are a melting pot of six distinct multi-instrumentalists and singer/songwriters, almost a self-contained variety show. Their sound is first defined by the sweet interplay between clarinet and violin and is colored by three fine singers and multi-instrumentalists, as well as masterful percussion. The band members are also students of the great records of the sixties (notably late Beatles) and hence they have created a realm that is both comforting and challenging to the listener. Multi-layered lyrics, rich harmonies, and masterful playing complete the story.

Birds of Chicago

Birds of ChicagoBirds of Chicago, is a collective based around JT Nero and Allison Russell. Whether touring as a duo or with the full family band, Nero and Russell have emerged as two of the most compelling new voices in North American Roots music.

Nero’s fractured country-soul voice wrapped in Russell’s silver and gold tones, is a fine thing. Not too perfect, not at all saccharine, you’ll hear echoes of mountain gospel, street corner doo-wop, and classic soul. Accompanied by just a banjo and a guitar, it’s haunting. Fired by the band, it’s a full tilt revival.

Richie Stearns and Rosie Newton

Rosie Newton and Rich StearnsLegendary banjo player Richie Stearns is one of the most influential old-time players of the last 25 years, stretching the genre in many innovative ways. His band “The Horseflies” re-defined old-time music in the 1980’s and 90’s and introduced the unique Ithaca, NY  sound to a whole generation of traditional musicians and fans. A founding member of “Donna the Buffalo” and “The Renegades”, Richie has collaborated, opened for, or played in bands with Natalie Merchant, Beausoleil, Farm Report (with Tony Trischka), 10,000 Maniacs, Kevin Burke, Johnny Clegg and Savuka, Peter Rowan, Jim Lauderdale and many others.

Rosie Newton has played fiddle for as long as she can remember. She grew up immersed in the folk music scene in Woodstock, New York attending concerts and parties with her mother, celtic cellist Abby Newton.

Newton currently performs in a duo with Richie Stearns, in the Evil City String Band, the Pearly Snaps, and in an internationally touring Celtic band called Ferintosh. She is represented on countless recordings, including her own projects- The Pearly Snaps, and her most recent CD, Tractor Beam with Stearns.

The Whipstitch Sallies

Whipstitch SalliesThe Indianapolis Star says that “The Whipstitch Sallies have been creating a buzz on the local bluegrass/folk music scene.” Their lively, energetic performances engage crowds in festival settings as well as intimate venues. All the band members sing lead and harmony vocals, and this versatility is a strength for the group’s rootsy Americana sound. Allie Burbrink brings driving rhythm and picking on acoustic guitar and banjo while Kat Erickson holds down the groove on upright bass. Meanwhile, Sam Roberts’ powerful mandolin style and Katie Burk’s spirited fiddle leads show their diverse influences – from punk to old-time. No wonder NUVO calls them “bluegrass rockers with panache.”