May 7, 2018 (REVISED June 1, 2018) Library of Congress Announces 2018 Homegrown Concert Series

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The American Folklife Center (AFC) at the Library of Congress will bring traditional music, dance and drama drawn from communities across the United States to the historic Coolidge Auditorium stage throughout the summer.

The “Homegrown: The Music of America” concert series is presented by AFC in cooperation with the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival and the Folklore Society of Greater Washington. The series brings the multicultural richness of American folk arts from around the country—and a few artists from further afield—to the nation’s capital.

The theme of the series this year is “Music of America,” which speaks to the mission of AFC to not only preserve but also present the musical talents of folklife artists. Otherwise noted, concerts are at noon in the Coolidge Auditorium on the ground floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C., unless otherwise specified. The performances are free and open to the public. No tickets are required.

The series includes the following performances. Additional performances may be added.

Mdou Moctar
Trio performing Saharan music from Niger
Thursday, May 10
Mdou Moctar is a Tuareg guitarist from a small village in the Azawagh desert of Niger. He plays in the tradition of desert guitar popularized by groups like Tinariwen and Bombino, but adds his own personal touches to the genre. His music is rooted in tradition, with polyrhythms borrowed from the traditional guitar-and-calabash style called “takamba” and lyrics sung in the style of old nomadic poets. His guitar playing is nonetheless wild and unrelenting, showing the influence of global pop.

"The Last Tightrope Dancer in Armenia" (2009)
Film screening
Friday, June 22, 8 p.m.
This documentary follows the lives of the only surviving performers of Armenian tightrope dancing, Zhora, 76 years old, and Knyaz, 77 years old, as they struggle to keep this ancient art alive against the current of contemporary society. The documentary was produced by Vardan Hovhannisyan and directed by Arman Yeritsyan and Inna Sahakyan. This screening is presented in association with the 2018 Smithsonian Folklife Festival.

Al. Spendiaryan Qanon Ensemble
Performing traditional Armenian quanon music
Tuesday, June 26
Founded by musician and educator Tsovinar Hovhannisyan, the Al. Spendiaryan Qanon Ensemble was created to encourage Armenian girls and young women to take up an instrument traditionally played by men. The qanon is a string instrument played in much of the Middle East, Maghreb, West Africa, Central Asia, and southeastern regions of Europe.  This concert is presented in association with the 2018 Smithsonian Folklife Festival. 

Folks of Bengal
Performing traditional song, music and visual art from Bengal, India 
Friday, June 29
Whittall Pavillion 
Mystic minstrels from the Indian state of Bengal, the Bauls are known for devotional songs that honor the divine within. There are about 2500 Bauls in Bengal. The five artists will take the audience on a journey through traditional Baul music. The concert is presented with the support of Contact Base-West Bengal, Communities Connecting Heritage (U.S. State Department and World Learning) and in association with the 2018 Smithsonian Folklife Festival. 

Ara and Onnik Dinkjian and Friends
Performing Armenian music and song from New Jersey
Tuesday, July 3
Onnik Dinkjian, at 88 years old, remains America’s most renowned Armenian folk and liturgical singer. He has preserved Armenian folk songs from the villages of Anatolia in eastern Turkey, especially in the unique dialect from his ancestral city of Diyarbekir, known as Dikranagerd to the Armenians. Dinkjian is among the last few hundred people who speak this endangered dialect. For this concert, Onnik will be joined by an ensemble of instrumentalists that includes his son Ara, a highly accomplished oud player. This concert is presented in association with the 2018 Smithsonian Folklife Festival.

Performingtraditional Italian music and song from Massachusetts
Thursday, July 12
Newpoli performs folk songs and dance music from southern Italy, mainly from the regions of Campania and Puglia. They integrate a wide variety of styles such as, tarantella-pizzica, tammurriata, villanella and the Neapolitan canzone, encompassing music from the Middle Ages to the 19th century.  Most of the members are graduates of the Berklee College of Music and the New England Conservatory and are proficient on a wide range of folk and early instruments, including bagpipes, flutes, drums, accordions, viols and lutes. 

“From the Mountains to the Sea”: The Anne and Frank Warner Collection
Featuring Jeff and Gerret Warner
Friday, July 20, 7 p.m.
The Frank and Anne Warner collection is one of the great treasures in the American Folklife Center archive, containing a wealth of material collected by the husband-and-wife team. “From the Mountains to the Sea” is a two-hour live presentation with multimedia, focusing on the collection. It features the voices of their sons Jeff and Gerret, photographs of the tradition bearers and their land and the insights gained by the Warners as they traveled through rural America from 1938 to 1966 in search of old songs

Lone Piñon
Performing acoustic conjunto from New Mexico
Wednesday, Aug. 1
Lone Piñon is an acoustic conjunto from northern New Mexico whose music celebrates the diversity and integrity of their region's cultural roots.  Using violins, accordion, quinta huapangera, bajo sexto, guitarrón, tololoche and vocals in Spanish, English, Nahuatl and P'urépecha, the group has revived and updated the Chicano stringband style that once flourished in New Mexico, bringing a devoted musicianship to northern New Mexican polkas and chotes, virtuosic Mexican huapango and son calentano and classic borderlands conjunto.

Grupo Rebolú
Performing Afro-Colombian music from New York
Wednesday, Aug. 8
Grupo Rebolúis an Afro-Colombian musical ensemble that includes some of the finest Colombian musicians in the United States. The group’s mission is to promote the rich musical traditions of its heritage: the African descendants of Colombia's Caribbean coast. They believe these folkloric traditions continually evolve over time and incorporate the musical ideas and creativity of new generations of musicians. The original compositions of Ronald Polo for Grupo Rebolú forge new paths for Colombian music, while respectfully remaining faithful to traditional Afro-Colombian rhythms such as gaita, tambora, chalupaand bullerengue.

John McCutcheon
Performing traditional folk music from the AFC Archive
Wednesday, September 12, 7:30 p.m.
John McCutcheon is a folk musician, singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. He is regarded as a master of the hammered dulcimer and is also proficient on guitar, banjo, autoharp, mountain dulcimer, fiddle and jawharp. While in his 20s, he traveled to Appalachia and learned from traditional folk musicians, including Roscoe Holcomb, I.D. Stamper and Tommy Hunter. He also conducted fieldwork with traditional musician and folklorist Mike Seeger. Most of his fieldwork is part of the permanent collections of the American Folklife Center. McCutcheon will be playing music exclusively from the AFC’s collections, including material from Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger’s collections, as well as his own.

Eddie Bond and the New Ballard's Branch Bogtrotters
Performing old-time Appalachian fiddling from Virginia 
Wednesday, September 26
Eddie Bond is a 2018 National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship honoree. He hails from Grayson County, Virginia, which many consider the musical heart of Southwestern Virginia and Appalachian old-time music. Bond was raised in Fries, a tiny town of 600 residents with strikingly rich musical tradition, producing such musical luminaries as Henry Whitter and Ernest Stoneman. Fries is six miles from Galax, home of the Old Fiddlers’ Convention, the oldest and largest fiddlers’ convention in the country. Bond was taught by a maternal grandmother who played guitar and sang music handed down for generations through the Hill family, musicians documented in the American Folklife Center's archival field recordings. 

Concert performances are recorded, and most are later made available on the Library of Congress website. The American Folklife Center was created by Congress in 1976 and placed at the Library of Congress to “preserve and present American folklife” through programs of research, documentation, archival presentation, reference service, live performance, exhibition, public programs, and training. The Homegrown concert series began the following year in 1977. The center includes the Archive of Folk Culture, which was established in 1928 and is now one of the largest collections of ethnographic material from the United States and around the world. For more information on the American Folkife Center and the Homegrown concert series, visit

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PR 18-064
ISSN 0731-3527