If you’ve haven’t yet marked your calendar for July 5 and 6, get your pencil out now, music fan.
The 19th annual New Bedford Folk Festival is fast becoming one of the premier summer folk fests in New England, and this year’s performers range from good to stellar.
Over the course of the two-day fest — in which some 70 performers will play seven different stages in historic downtown — there are 10 acts you won’t want to miss.
When it comes to songwriting, Smither is one of the best. When it comes to guitar playing … well, he’s also one of the best.
Smither is an intelligent, witty guy, and one of those musicians who you’ve got to see live to fully appreciate. The stories he tells in concert range from cute to flat-out hilarious. A profound and prolific songwriter, his songs range from heart-breaking to hysterical.
Born in Miami during World War II, Smither, 69, grew up in New Orleans. The family lived briefly in Paris where Smither and his twin sister attended French public school, and where Smither bought his first guitar.
In the 1960s, Smither sought out the booming Cambridge folk scene, playing at Club 47 in Harvard Square with Joan Baez, Bob Dylan and Eric von Schmidt. Listen closely: He almost always covers a Bob Dylan song at the end of his concerts.
If you like John Prine or Lyle Lovett, don’t miss Gorka. The down-to-earth New Jersey native writes gorgeous slice-of-life songs, plays one heck of a guitar, and his self-deprecating humor onstage is hilarious. Definitely one of those guys you need to see live to fully appreciate.
A world-renowned singer-songwriter who has graced the big-time stages of PBS’ Austin City Limits, and NPR’s Mountain Stage among others, Gorka got his start at a neighborhood coffeehouse in Pennsylvania. He proves his insight with songs like “Stranger With Your Hair” and “Always,” while “Italian Girls” and “I’m From New Jersey” show his wit and humor.
“Sunshine, come on back another day … I promise you I’ll still be singing.”
Yup. You know him as the man behind the 1971 hit “Sunshine,” but Edwards has an epic catalog. He’s recorded 15 albums, collaborated with artists like Emmylou Harris and Jimmy Buffett and produced records.
A Minnesota native, Edwards moved to Boston in 1967 and began playing all over New England with his band. Edwards went solo in 1970 and released his eponymous debut record in 1971. “Sunshine” reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, sold more than a million copies, and was awarded a gold disc by the R.I.A.A.
More recently, Edwards appeared on the Will Ferrell movie “Anchorman” in 2006 and appeared in and scored the 2008 romantic comedy “The Golden Boys,” starring Bruce Dern, Mariel Hemingway and Rip Torn. He’s a man of many talents.
Folk fests were made for performers like Pete and Maura Kennedy.
The husband and wife duo were both members of folk singer Nanci Griffith’s band, the Blue Moon Orchestra, in the early 1990s, when Griffith became a folk darling with her Grammy-winning album, “Other Voices, Other Rooms.”
Inspired by The Byrds, The Beatles and Richard Thompson, the two have been making beautiful music together for 20 years. Do yourself a favor and listen to their cover of The Beatles’ “Day in the Life.”
If you have kids, you cannot miss Harley. And if you don’t have kids, you just might want to relive your own school days — Harley has been entertaining New England school kids since the early 1990s.
A two-time Grammy award-winning artist, recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the R.I. Council for the Humanities and an NPR commentator, Harley’s hits include “Black Socks,” “Monsters in the Bathroom,” “50 Ways to Fool Your Mother,” “You’re in Trouble,” “Dad Threw the TV Out the Window.” He’s always just as entertaining for grown-ups as he is for kids.
You know him from, well, every movie and TV show you’ve ever seen. But Cox is also a talented singer-songwriter in his own right.
Cox, 75, first appeared on the silver screen in 1972’s “Deliverance” with Jon Voight and Burt Reynolds. He’s starred in “Bound for Glory,” about the life of folk hero Woody Guthrie; “Taps,” “Beverly Hills Cop,” “RoboCop,” “Total Recall” and “Murder at 1600” among dozens of others.
His TV roles include gigs on “Bonanza,” “Family Ties,” “Murder She Wrote,” “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” “St. Elsewhere,” “Perry Mason,” “Star Trek,” “L.A. Law,” “The Practice,” “The Agency,” “Boston Public,” “Law & Order: SVU,” “Medium,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Cold Case” and “Dexter” among many more.
The New Mexico native and country crooner also has nine records under his belt.
Nova Scotia is a land of rich musical culture, from the old tunes of the Scottish Gaels to the area’s old Irish and French-Acadian folk tradition. And Crowley is, evidently, a homegrown girl — a fiddler inspired by the music of Cape Breton, and rooted in the Celtic traditions of her rural Canadian home.
A fiddling wunderkind, Crowley released her first record in 2007 at age 17. It was immediately nominated for a Music Nova Scotia Award, ECMA and Canadian Folk Music Award, leading her to be selected as the CBC Galaxie’s Celtic Artist of the Month. A true talent.
Gilbert burst onto the singer-songwriter scene in the early ’90s when the buzz spread through New England folk clubs that a former arts teacher was killing it at open mic night.
Gilbert got his big break when Shawn Colvin invited him on her 1992 tour. The Philly native is now a kingpin of the New England folk scene.
If you want to hear good songwriting, look no further than “Somerville Live.” A cornerstone of Gilbert’s repertoire is his exploration of the experience of being a person of color in America. His latest album, “Old White Men,” epitomizes that theme.
If you’re a fan of Lucinda Williams or Emmylou Harris, don’t miss Campbell.
Campbell’s poems and paeans to the South, family and love — listen to “Montgomery to Mobile,” and “Red Clay After Rain” — smack of William’s raw, self-examining songwriting. And her voice is as crystal-clear as Harris’s.
Campbell took up piano at age 7 before switching to the guitar as a teenager during the folk-rock heyday of the ’70s. Since her debut album “From the Levee” in 1995, the singer/songwriter Kate Campbell has since put together a solid catalog of 13 albums.
Eberhardt blends rock and folk beautifully, from his acoustic album of Doors songs, “All Wood and Doors” to his cover of “Just Like a Woman” on “Nod to Bob II,” honoring Bob Dylan on his 70th birthday.
Born into a musical family in Berwyn, Pa., in 1954, Eberhardt has been playing guitar since he was a little kid, and touring as a musician since he was 15 with his brother Geoff. Some 45 years and 10 albums later, he’s proven himself a great solo act and a gifted songwriter.
For more information and a schedule, visit www.newbedfordfolkfestival.com.Tags: concert, movie, music, release, singer, tour, tv