For folk fans, this weekend is truly the most wonderful time of the year. For a scene normally relegated to house concerts and coffee shops, where performers play to incredibly appreciative yet admittedly small crowds, the South Florida Folk Fest gives the local folk scene its moment in the sun.
This year's gathering, held in Easterlin Park (1000 NW 38th St., Oakland Park), features the usual mix of local musicians, singer/songwriter contest finalists, and headlining acts. Much of the time at the main stage (a.k.a. the Gator Stage) on Saturday is given over to performances by the competition finalists, with the winners getting longer slots on the stage Sunday. You can cheer on a pair of local finalists, Ellen Bukstel and Marie Nofsinger, and several more competitors from other areas of the state.
Once evening rolls around, the main stage gives way to the headlining performers. Hot Soup, Amy Carol Webb, Wishing Chair, the 24th Street Klezmer Band, Rachel Bissex, and, finally, Sam Pacetti play on Saturday. A few of these -- Webb, for example -- are popular local acts, though most hail from all across the country. Vermont-based Bissex, who headlined the festival in 1996, is certainly an act to catch.
Sunday's evening lineup includes John Smith, Tammerlin, Bethany Yarrow, Rod MacDonald, and the Burns Sisters. Yarrow (pictured), daughter of Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul, and Mary fame, is perhaps the performer we're most interested in checking out -- her blend of traditional folk tunes with world music influences and hip-hop lite separates her from this pack and certainly puts a pretty wide gulf between her music and that of her more famous and far quieter daddy.
With festival hours from 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. and four musical stages, a workshop stage, a children's stage, a drum circle, and a jam tent to choose from, the South Florida Folk Fest has something for everyone with a little folk in their hearts. Tickets cost $20 per day, or $35 for both days. Children age 17 and younger are admitted free. Call 954-785-8595, or visit www.browardfolkclub.com. -- Dan Sweeney
Geek Love from Rachacha
Let's get the name out of the way first. It's pronounced "S and M and M and M," not "Snimunminhumana." SNMNMNM hails from Rochester and plays a jazzed-up hodgepodge of quirky college rock that incorporates an amplified tuba, accordion, trumpet, guitar, trombone, and drums. Multi-instrumentalists Seamus, Matt K., Mark, and Matt V. (SNMNMNM -- get it?) met at the Eastman School of Music -- a school that, Seamus explains, "compared to other music schools doesn't suck" -- and began assembling their own brand of "evolved geek rock," a label the band doesn't wince at, since they gave it to themselves. "We don't mind, really," Seamus says. "But we've since stopped saying it because more people have heard us, and now we can just say we're SNMNMNM. We can't describe our sound in one or two words. It's impossible." If the presence of an accordion isn't enough to clue you in, the guys have indeed been influenced by geek-rock forefathers like They Might Be Giants, but for chrissakes they have an amped tuba and a song referencing Slaughter. Check it out for yourself when SNMNMNM plays Dada (52 N. Swinton Ave., Delray Beach) with Summer Blanket. Show starts at 10 p.m. and is free. Call 561-330-3232. -- Audra Schroeder
Play It, Leon!
Leon Redbone dishes out more of the same
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Even Leon Redbone's most ardent followers must admit that the man is a one-trick pony. The white fedora, dark sunglasses, and goatee have remained unchanged for decades. Redbone's desire for privacy has remained at its usual high levels, so that it now approaches mythical status; urban legend says that his record company sends his paychecks to a P.O. box and that he once passed off a phony number to renowned producer John Hammond when Hammond told Redbone he wanted to work with him. Heck, we don't even know where the man comes from, though most speculation points to Canada. And then, of course, there's the music. Redbone's flair for vaudevillian dramatics and classic ragtime tunes has not changed since his debut album in 1976. For fans of Redbone, though, that one trick is more than enough. Catch him live at Carefree Theatre (2000 S. Dixie Hwy., West Palm Beach) at 8 p.m. Saturday. Tickets cost $27.50. Call 561-833-7305. -- Dan Sweeney
Yes, South Florida does have a ballet company, folks. And this weekend, the Miami City Ballet is premiering two performances at the Kravis Center (701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach). The two ballets are in honor of the centennial of the birth of master dance choreographer George Balanchine, whose output spanned three decades and even crossed species when he choreographed Ringling Bros.' famous Ballet of the Elephants in 1942. Miami City Ballet's repertoire just happens to contain many of Balanchine's ballets, so with that in mind, it presents Ballo della Regina and Stravinsky Violin Concerto, two of Balanchine's more popular ballets, with a grand finale tribute to the music of John Philip Sousa titled Stars and Stripes. Limber up and check out this night of high-kickin', tight-sportin' action. Actually, you can check it out on three days: Friday and Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. Tickets cost $47.50. Call 561-832-7469, or visit www.kravis.org. -- Audra Schroeder