Performers for the 2018 National Folk Festival

photo courtesy of artist


Malibu, California

Nicknamed “Mr. Telecaster,” this rockabilly guitar icon is noted for his unique picking technique, melodic sensibilities, and lightning speed.

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old-time string band

Marlinton and Huntington, West Virginia

One of the Mountain State’s finest old-time bands ably carries on their Appalachian musical legacy with a rousing, hard-driving style.

photo credit: Michael G. Stewart

Andean scissors dance

Port Chester, New York

Carrying on the legendary danza de las tijeras (scissors dance), an ancient, highly acrobatic indigenous ritual dance from the southern Andes of Peru.

photo credit: Franck Blanquin


Seattle, Washington

A core member of the famed Gladiators and living legend of Jamaican roots reggae delivers the message and the groove.

photo credit: Michael G. Stewart


Charleston, South Carolina

Gravity-defying head spins, twirling windmills, and rapid-fire footwork are hallmarks of this urban dance style that lies at the core of hip hop culture.

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precision jump rope team

Greenbelt, Maryland

A young champion precision jump rope team with dazzling acrobatic moves, agility, speed, style, and a positive message.

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Azerbaijani kamancha and percussion

San Francisco and Sacramento, California

Haunting melodies of the Azerbaijani spiked fiddle supported by dazzling percussion—sounds honed over centuries along the famed Silk Road routes of eastern and central Asia.

photo credit: Matthew Murphy

tap dance

New York, New York

One of the most acclaimed tap dancers of his generation, a bona fide “hoofer” who upholds a great American dance tradition with verve and style.

photo credit: Edwin Remsberg


Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Recycled materials take on life as astonishing 21st-century puppets—breakdancing androids, dinosaurs, dreadlocked cellists, and more—that connect with kids of all backgrounds.

photo credit: Robert Hakalski


Chicago, Illinois

Acclaimed for her virtuosity and creativity, this Chicago-born fiddler is among the most influential and celebrated in the world of traditional Irish music.

photo credit: Sean Busher

gospel brass "shout band"

Charlotte, North Carolina

This gospel trombone choir will raise the roof with its heavenly “shout band” harmonies, a musical tradition unique to the United House of Prayer for All People.

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Los Angeles, California

Soaring, impassioned vocals, a magnificent violin section, and superb showmanship—one of the finest mariachis in the world.

photo credit: Skip Rowland


St. Louis, Missouri

Channeling the power of old-school masters, this prodigiously talented 27-year-old is the future of the blues.

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Charlestown, Indiana

Ten-time IBMA Fiddle Performer of the Year leads a powerhouse band, creating dynamic traditional bluegrass that has propelled them to the top of the American bluegrass scene.

photo credit: Michael G Stewart


Brooklyn, New York

With sounds rousing, raucous, and poignant in turn, this all-star band fronted by one of today’s premier klezmer clarinetists is leading the modern renaissance of klezmer.

photo credit: Tom Pich

Romanian cimbalom 

Chicago, Illinois 

Stunning virtuosity and deep musical passion have made this master of the cimbalom a revered figure in Chicago’s Eastern European communities. 

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Inuit throat singing

Ottawa, Ontario

A rarely heard tradition, Inuit throat singing blends breath and voiced sound to create playful, rhythmic melodies and imitations of sounds in nature.

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salsa dura

Bronx, New York

These “new kings of salsa dura” are leading a renaissance of driving, socially conscious Latin music that brings the energy of the barrio back to salsa.

photo credit: Michael G. Stewart

Piedmont blues and dance

Takoma Park, Maryland

A harmonica wizard and a master of dance lead an exuberant celebration of Piedmont blues music and dance inspired by the rural house parties of their youth.

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Texas fiddling and western swing

Dallas, Texas

Divine three-part-harmony singing and fiddling from the Lone Star State—think Bob Wills’ Texas Playboys meet the Andrews Sisters.

photo credit: Jazmin S. Million


New York, New York 

Redefining the possibilities of the human voice, this one-time member of The Roots sparked a beatbox renaissance. 

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circus arts

Wilton, New Hampshire

This dynamic street circus duo combines precision acrobatics with daring feats and nonstop laughs, and a breathtaking finale that ends high in the air.

photo credit: Jl Jeon

Korean music and dance

New York, New York

In exquisite traditional attire, with powerful ritual drumming, lush music, and expressive dances, this accomplished ensemble offers a powerful journey into the heart of Korean culture.

photo credit: Gabrielle Savoy


Mamou, Louisiana

Both deeply traditional and forward-looking, this band sets the standard for modern Cajun music—sophisticated, soulful, and never failing to move both body and spirit.

photo credit: Edwin Remsberg Photographs

New Orleans brass band

New Orleans, Louisiana 

From the storied Tremé neighborhood, and firmly rooted in community parade traditions, one of the Crescent City’s most beloved brass bands. 

photo credit: Michael G. Stewart


El Cerrito, California

Acclaimed Nigerian bassist Babá Ken Okulolo and his all-star band deliver the irresistibly danceable sounds of classic highlife.

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Montreal, Québec 

Led by a towering figure in traditional Québécois music, this brilliant trio mines the rich musical heritage of “La belle province” to create a one-of-a-kind musical experience. 

Maryland Traditions Folklife Area Stage Performers

photo credit: Edwin Remsberg Photographs

Swedish fiddling

Brentwood, Maryland

Maryland Traditions Apprenticeship Award Team 

photo credit: Edwin Remsberg Photographs

Cambodian homrong music

Gaithersburg and Takoma Park, Maryland

Maryland Traditions Apprenticeship Award Team

photo credit: Edwin Remsberg

old-time and bluegrass

Elkton and Rising Sun, Maryland

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California, Maryland

photo credit: Edwin Remsberg Photographs

African American storytelling

Baltimore, Maryland

Maryland Traditions Apprenticeship Award Team

photo credit: Edwin Remsberg Photographs

Persian classical singing

Potomac and Rockville, Maryland

Maryland Traditions Apprenticeship Award Team

photo credit: Edwin Remsberg Photographs

Korean samulnori

Kensington and Laurel, Maryland

Maryland Traditions Apprenticeship Award Team

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gospel quartet

Catonsville, Maryland

photo credit: RaRah Photo

Tuvan throat singing 

Baltimore, Maryland

photo credit: Edwin Remsberg Photographs

African American devotional music

Anne Arundel and Dorchester counties, Maryland, and Sussex County, Delaware