Sound Connection at Folk Festival
by Linda Girardi
Performers were having a ‘dialogue’ with their audiences Sunday during the 39th Annual Fox Valley Folk Music and Storytelling Festival nestled along the banks of the Fox River on Island Park in Geneva, IL.
“Music reaches into the emotional side of our brains and connects it with the spirit in ways words cannot,” blues artist Scott Ainslie said.
The singer and songwriter said the power of music is partly what pulls audiences and performers together for such musical celebrations.
“I wanted to join in the dialogue,” he said.
The tw-day festival for Labor Day weekend features performers with diverse backgrounds representing a spectrum of ‘roots music,’ including bluegrass, Cajun, and Delta blues.
Dance and storytelling performances fill out the festival’s eight stages. There also are interactive music workshops for aspiring artists and puppet-making classes for children. Performances and workshops continue through Monday.
Ainslie, from the artsy town of Brattleboro, VT, performed a selection of songs on a 193`1 National resophonic, one of the first self-amplified steel guitars.
He insists music has been part of his life ever since he began picking out melodies on the family piano from records his mother listened to.
For his Sunday performance he plucked a one-string, handmade diddley bow (a cigar box guitar) to the intrigue of audience members.
“Music is a calling – you make it with whatever instrument and influences surround you,” he said.
A day earlier, he was among several musicians who performed for a live WFMT radio broadcast of “Midnight Special” concert in the Unitarian Church in downtown Geneva.
The gentle creak of floor boards and the blue and white stained glass windows of the 173-year-old sanctuary were a refreshing contrast from the unsual venues of these artists.
“The acoustics are amazing here,” songwriter and musician Joe Crookston said during a sound check for the sold-out concert.
Crookston made the two-day trip from Ithaca, NY to perform in Geneva.
“I am inpsired by the human potential – people tapping into who they really are and then expressing that. The world becomes a more beautiful and magical place,” he said.
Linda Girardi is a freelance reporter.