Folk and Roots Festival Can’t Miss Shows

Old Town School’s Chicago Folk and Roots Festival is right around the corner. Every year, the two-day event hosts an eclectic mix of music – you’ll always find something interesting and, most of the time, it’s bands you’ve never heard of. That’s a good thing. This year is no different.

Below are our picks of five performances not to miss this year. If you read Sound Citizen with any regularity, you might recognize one or two of them. If not, you’ll find a few links and a couple of videos here to get familiar.

Held on July 11-12 in spacious Welles Park on Chicago’s northwest side, an $8 donation ($4 for kids) will get you in where, over both days, more than a dozen bands will play. You can also find performance by Old Town School’s student groups and a kids tent with music activities and more. There are also learning opportunities – from dance lessons to open jam sessions, so bring your instrument.

For $8, the Chicago Folk and Roots Festival is a downright bargain. Be there. We will be.

Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears – 8:30 pm, Saturday, July 11

This is a band quickly on the rise. We wrote about them before, so check out Black Joe Lewis is on Tour.

HoneyHoney – 7:00 pm, Saturday, July 11

Honey Honey is comprised of Suzanne Santo and Ben Jaffe, two very talented musicians from Venice, California. Santo’s voice is crisp but sultry and bluesy, and complemented wonderfully by rolling rhythms provided by Jaffe. The style is simple, catchy and played with precision. Below is their video for Little Toy Gun, directed by Kiefer Sutherland. You might also like this version of “Sugarcane” played in what looks like a subway station.


Karsh Kale – 8:30 pm, Sunday, July 12

While growing up in New York, Karsh Kale (pronounced Kursh Kah-lay) has fully embraced his Indian heritage through a mastery of percussion. What you’ll hear on Sunday is a mix of this traditional drumming style, with a little techno. Together, it’s a unique sound that you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else.

Curley Taylor and Zydeco Trouble – 4:55 pm, Sunday, July 12

Maybe my New Orleans upbringing put these guys on the list but this guy is talented, as is his band. And who doesn’t love a little Zydeco every now and then? The forecast is in the 80’s, so you might just feel a little of the bayou during what’s sure to be an energizing performance from a New Orleans original. Laisser les bons temps rouler!


Midwest Fiddle Championship – 12:55 pm, Saturday, July 11

No folk festival would be complete without some dueling fiddles. That’s exactly what you’ll find here, as five artists compete for $1,200 in prize money. The event is sponsored by the Fiddle Club of the World, Chicago Chapter.

Enjoy the festival, and leave a comment if you have any other suggestions! Visit the official website for more details and full schedules of performances and activities.