Just like the festival itself, the Northwest Folklife Preview Party at the Tractor Tavern will be a night of music, dancing, and entertainment.
TONIGHT: Tractor Tavern offers sneak peek of upcoming Northwest Folklife Festival
By Ana Sofia Knauf, UW News Lab
Northwest Folklife will hold its fifth annual preview party tonight at the Tractor Tavern. Country and folk acts Big Sur, Denver, and the Annie Ford Band will kick off the evening starting at 8 p.m. to give concert goers a taste of what to expect at the upcoming Northwest Folklife Festival over Memorial Day Weekend.
And for those unsure about how to move to the folksy tunes, members of Rockin’ Horse Dance Barn will teach a two-step folk-dance lesson later in the evening.
“The tavern is the ideal venue because the bands are very Tractor-esque,” said Ryan Davis, the marketing manager for Northwest Folklife. “There will be a classic country vibe, which really fits with the Tractor.”
In addition to entertainment, Northwest Folklife will also hold its first preview-party raffle. Tractor attendees can enter to win prizes such as a “Date Night Extravaganza” package, which includes everything from dinner at Kirkland’s Lucia Restaurant to cabaret tickets at the Can Can, or dinner and a movie at Cinebarre. Other raffle prizes include a Mitchell dreadnought acoustic guitar and prepaid trips for river rafting and lift tickets at Stevens Pass. All proceeds will go toward Northwest Folklife to help pay for the preview party and, according to Folklife’s website, “keep the annual Festival free for everyone.” Raffle tickets will be $5 each.
The evening will serve as a snippet of what is to come for the annual festival, which will be held at Seattle Center May 25-28.
“Folklife supports traditions, but is a tradition in itself,” said Davis. “We want to keep a finger on the pulse of tradition and preserve it for the next 50 years while celebrating new traditions as they emerge.”
Folklife Festival coordinators sought to present new traditions this year, including an Indian-inspired Bollywood showcase and partnering with the Seattle International Film Festival to debut local films.
The newest addition to the Folklife music scene will be the “Indie Roots” stage, which made its debut last year to provide a place for emerging Seattle folk, indie and country bands.
“The fact that there is a stage for us indie musicians is super cool,” said Jake Hemming, the guitarist and vocalist of Big Sur. “For me Folklife is poetry always winning out over cash. You are really playing for the reason that you love to play, and people come to be immersed in that and that doesn’t happen that often.”
While Folklife staff promote new traditions, Davis said aspects of past festivals will also be showcased this year, including polka dancing and “earthier, earlier country music, and Americana-tinged music that does not sound ‘hokey.’”
“I think there is still a lot of interest in old-school country bands and that seems to be becoming more popular,” Davis said in response to a seeming decline in youth’s interest in country music. “These people are great musicians, which every generation can appreciate. Great songwriting is timeless.”
“The word ‘folk’ evokes the feeling of story telling,” added Hemming. “Regardless of age, people will always respond to honesty.”
Advance tickets are $10 on ticketweb.com and will also be available at the door. The Tractor Tavern is located at 5213 Ballard Ave N.W.