First 8 performers named for National Folk Festival

The National Folk Festival has revealed the first eight performers who will be featured in the 79th National Folk Festival, which will take place in Downtown Salisbury, Sept. 6-8. This will be the second year of the event’s three-year residency in Salisbury.

On hand at the announcement were government leaders and planners for the event—including Lora Bottinelli, Executive Director, National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA); Blaine Waide, Associate Director, NCTA; Mayor Jake Day, City of Salisbury; and Caroline O’Hare, Local Manager, National Folk Festival.  

“As promised, the lineup for the 79th National Folk Festival lineup in 2019 is entirely new, with no repeats from last year,” stated NCTA Executive Director Lora Bottinelli. “I don’t know where else one could experience this amazing array of artists and genres—all in one event, and all for free!”

Approximately 350 artists — musicians, dancers, storytellers, and craftspeople — will take part in the National Folk Festival, with more than 35 different musical groups performing on seven outdoor stages throughout downtown Salisbury.    The Festival strives to present the nation’s very finest traditional artists. Music and dance traditions from every part of the country are represented — authentic blues, rockabilly, gospel, jazz, polka, tamburitza, cowboy, bluegrass, klezmer, R&B, old-time, Cajun, rhythm and blues, mariachi, beatbox, breakin’, western swing, honky-tonk, and zydeco, as well as traditional music and dance from Native American, Celtic, Acadian, Middle Eastern, Caribbean, Asian, Appalachian, Latino, Eastern European, African, and Pacific Island cultures, among others.

The eight artists announced today include:

  • Adonis Puentes & The Voice of Cuba Orchestra (Cuba by way of Vancouver, B.C.) – Cuban son Propelled by the vibrant horns and rhythms of his sextet, this verdadero sonero (true sonero) transports listeners to his birthplace through the mesmerizing sounds of classic son.  
  • Aurelio (Plaplaya, Honduras and New York City) – Garifuna. One of the most extraordinary Central American artists of his generation, this composer, guitarist, and percussionist is a musical ambassador and champion of the endangered culture of the Garifuna people.
  • Eddie Cotton Jr. (Clinton, Miss.) – soul blues This Mississippi master of soul blues will move audiences, body and spirit, with gritty guitar work, stirring vocals, and a hard-driving style rooted in the church of his youth.  
  • Hot Club of Cowtown (Austin, Texas) – Western swing and hot jazz . The pre-eminent ensemble in western swing and hot jazz today, this trio delivers exquisite performances with impeccable style and its trademark vintage sound.
  • Innov Gnawa (Brooklyn, N.Y.) – Moroccan Gnawa. This Brooklyn-based quintet immerses audiences in mystical trance music that traditionally accompanies all-night Gnawa rituals of healing and purification.
  • Jerry Douglas Trio (Nashville, Tenn.) – Dobro master. “Dobro’s matchless contemporary master,” the greatest innovator of the resonator guitar in the last half century — possibly the greatest ever.
  • Jones Benally Family Dancers (Black Mesa, Ariz.) – Navajo hoop dancing. Led by family patriarch and world champion hoop dancer, three generations will share the beauty and richness of Navajo traditional culture.
  • Yamini Kalluri & The Carnatic Ensemble (New York City) – Kuchipudi dance. Featuring a 21-year-old rising star of kuchipudi dance, this intergenerational ensemble weaves their shared heritage into a spellbinding display of South Indian music and dance.

Over a dozen people of different backgrounds, and with a deep knowledge of music and art forms, came together from across Delmarva to serve as the local Musical Programming Advisory Committee. This committee’s role is to consider — and help the NCTA select — the artists who will perform at the National Folk Festival each year. To learn more about these artists and their stories, please visit   

The National Folk Festival will feature individual artists on Facebook (, Twitter (, and Instagram ( throughout the next month.

More performers will be announced as they are confirmed.

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