A first for folk music

The first annual Gilbert Folk Festival takes place Nov. 18 and 19 as part of Gilbert Days in Historic Downtown Gilbert. More than 30 musical acts are scheduled to perform on three stages. I’m sure they’re all marvelous, but it’s the Artichoke Sisters that really caught my eye. That and the fact that you can enjoy them all for free.

You’ll need to buy tickets for Saturday night’s shindig at Higley Center for the Performing Arts — which features Dolan Ellis, Arizona’s official balladeer and Marshall Trimble, our state historian. I’ll bet he tires of people asking whether we’re related when he hits the local supermarket. If the answer is yes, it’s only by marriage.

Still, it’s comforting to know that Arizona has something official other than the Colt Single Action Army Revolver. Trimble, by they way, is known to some as the “Will Rogers of Arizona.” I’m told the Trimble and Dolan gig includes folk music, storytelling and humor. I’ve got relatives in town this weekend so I’ll get to enjoy at least the latter two for free.

Folks who want to up their “F.Q” before all this folk fanfare gets underway on Friday will find plenty of information on the PBS website. There’s a nifty teacher guide on the history of “roots music” and companion materials for a documentary about the “National Barn Dance” aired on American radio from 1924 to 1960.

I’ve been to a couple of barn dances, complete with hayrides, near the tiny South Dakota town where my dad grew up — and did my fair share of square dancing in P.E. classes. I’m not too proud to admit that I can polka with the best of ‘em, or strum a few folk tunes on my guitar.

These days, the closest I get to enjoying fabulous folk music is a random rendezvous every now and then with something like “Pay Me My Money Down” while listening to Sirius XM’s “East Street Radio” in my car. Maybe I should just crank that puppy up and head on out to Gilbert this weekend.

– Lynn

Note: Lest you feel a post-folk funk on Sunday, consider heading to the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix to check out their collection of folks instruments (and enjoy a free banjo workshop with Richard Chapman if you’re a beginning or intermediate player who can BYOB).

Coming up: Children’s books tackle powerful women in history, Tribble time!

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