- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Smithsonian’s folklife festivals are always laced with music and dance that speak of long tradition. This year, festivalgoers who tarry beyond the formal closing time of 5:30 p.m. and gather at any of the festival’s three stages can hear everything from New Orleans gospel and jazz to the bomba and criollo of Latino Chicago and the French, Celtic, East European and “first nations” musical heritage of Canada’s Alberta province.

Here’s a schedule of all performances:

Friday, June 30

• Franco-Albertan Dance Workshop and Dance Party: Zephyr, Allez Ouest. 5 p.m., Northern Lights Stage.

• ‘Been in the Storm So Long’ — Music of New Orleans: Friendly Travelers, Dr. Michael White and the Original Liberty Jazz Band. 6 p.m., Jubilee Stage.

Saturday, July 1

• Canada Day Concert: Maria Dunn, Cowboy Celtic, John Wort Hannam, Corb Lund & the Hurtin’ Albertans. 5:30 p.m., Northern Lights Stage.

• Nuestra Musica: Latino Chicago: Suni Paz and Rafael Manriquez, El Grupo Ansiedad, Guarionex. 6 p.m., Jubilee Stage.

Sunday, July 2

• Alberta First Nations Music and Dance: Blackfoot Medicine Speaks, Asani. 5:30 p.m., Northern Lights Stage.

• The Ralph Rinzler Memorial Concert Honoring Joe Wilson: John Cephas, Phil Wiggins and Daryl Davis; Linda Lay and Springfield Exit; The Whitetop Mountain Band. 6 p.m., Jubilee Stage.

Friday, July 7

• ‘Been in the Storm So Long’ — Music of New Orleans: Hot 8, Mardi Gras Indians with Big Chief Monk Boudreaux and the Golden Eagles Indian Tribe. Jubilee Stage, 6 p.m.

Saturday, July 8

• Alberta Dance Party: Calvin Vollrath and Allez Ouest. 5:30 p.m., Northern Lights Stage.

• ‘Been in the Storm So Long’ — Music of New Orleans: Davell Crawford, the Dixie Cups. Jubilee Stage, 6 p.m.

Sunday, July 9

• Alberta’s Ukrainian Tradition: Zabava — Ukrainian Music and Dance. 6 p.m., Jubilee Stage.

• Alberta’s Celtic Tradition: The McDades, Ian Tyson. 7 p.m., Northern Lights Stage.

Monday, July 10

• Alberta Songs: Su-Chong Lim, Maria Dunn and John Wort Hannam. 5:30 p.m., Northern Lights Stage.

• Nuestra Musica: Latino Chicago: The Essence, Sones de Mexico with The Mexican Folkloric Dance Company, AfriCaribe. 6 p.m., Jubilee Stage

Weathering the storms

Washington summers being what they are, weather has always been a factor at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, where in the past whirring fans and strategically placed hay bales have helped to keep the forces of nature at bay. But this year, the theme for the New Orleans program, “Been in the Storm So Long,” has proved to be more than a bit prophetic.

“It has hit us just about every way a festival can get hit,” says festival Director Diana Parker, referring to this week’s drenching rain and electrical storms.

Downed telephone lines mean that computer systems cannot operate and staffers cannot access e-mail. Road closings have slowed deliveries, while delayed flights have had staffers waiting at airports for hours in order to meet festival participants, who have already started trickling in.

That’s not to mention what’s been happening down at the festival site itself, which has to be cleared of workers doing last-minute preparations any time an electrical storm sweeps through. The grounds themselves have already reached saturation point, meaning that puddles and more than a few ponds have started to appear.

“This is the worst I’ve seen it since I’ve been here,” says Ms. Parker, who has been working at the festival since 1975.

But festival folks say that despite all this, they plan to open on schedule, and don’t expect much long-term damage if things clear up by the weekend. In the meantime, staffers are relying on walkie-talkies and cell phones, and lots and lots of batteries.

“Yes, ma’am, we’re opening on Friday,” says Ms. Parker. “We’re slogging through, but we’re all still very excited about what is to come.”

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