Concerts from the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress

SEPTEMBER 20, 2018, 7:30-9:00 PM, No Tickets Required

Archive Challenge

Coolidge Auditorium

For the past few years at the Folk Alliance International conference, the American Folklife Center has been organizing “Archive Challenges,” at which we ask an array of different folk musicians to learn material from AFC’s archive and perform it in a special showcase. Last year we brought this program here to the Coolidge Auditorium, and now we're doing so again!  For this edition, AFC invited 4 distinguished artists to dig deep into our archive and put their own creative stamp on the songs and tunes they found here. Each of the artists will perform a few songs from the archive to show what a tremendous resource it is for creative work. The artists are Jaimeo Brown, Huda Asfour & Kamyar Arsani, Elena & Los Fulanos, and the Ship's Company Chanteymen. At this concert, you will hear the music they fell in love with during their research, imbued with their own creativity and style.

Established at the Library in 1928, the AFC archive contains everything from the first wax cylinder recordings of Native American song, to John and Alan Lomax’s pioneering disc-era recordings, to recent digital documentation of folk concerts of all kinds. Best known performers in the Archive include Muddy Waters, Pete Seeger, Honeyboy Edwards, Woody Guthrie, Aunt Molly Jackson, Lead Belly, Doc Watson, Bill Monroe, and Jean Ritchie… and soon, the performers in this showcase! Photos courtesy of the artists. Ship’s Company photo by Wilson Freeman

The Artists

Jaimeo Brown (pronounced jah-mayo) began his drum career at age 16 with his father, bassist Dartanyan Brown, his mother, pianist and woodwind specialist Marcia Miget, and his drum teacher, Sly Randolph, himself a Bernard Purdie protégé from Harlem.  In the last 20 years, he has worked with a range of musicians including Stevie Wonder, Carlos Santana, Q-Tip, Carl Craig, Bobby Hutcherson, Greg Osby, Joe Locke, David Murray, and several other New York based musicians. He gained extensive experience performing and educating various audiences around the world for the US State Department.  In addition to onstage work, Jaimeo contributed program material for the Oscar and Grammy award-winning documentary Twenty Feet from Stardom and the PBS original production of Ralph Ellison's King of the Bingo Game. When recordings of Gees Bend quilters, an isolated African American community on the Alabama river, found their way into Jaimeo's life, they instantly became some of the most important music in his life; more "spiritual nourishment" than art. The songs of this small group of quilters became the substance of Jaimeo's meditation, medication and inspiration. A decade later, after 14 turbulent years of New York life, Jaimeo's own search for creative and spirtual healing lead him to experiment with weaving samples of the Gees Bend quilters, and other AFC field recordings, into his own music. In doing so, he discovered a sound that “immediately gave me a life's worth of work” and that was to become the source of his definitive project, Transcendence

Elena & Los Fulanos is a bilingual folk rock band based in Washington, DC. Since 2011, they have been creating music that ranges from twangy, heartbreak-themed folk Americana, to soothing, introspective, violin-infused Latin rock. Influenced by front-woman Elena Lacayo’s experience growing up in two cultures (Nicaraguan and American), Elena & Los Fulanos creates a world where language and tradition meld with catchy melodies and inventive chords to enhance appreciation for diversity in an increasingly multicultural world. Their debut album, Miel Venenosa, earned a Washington Area Music Association (WAMMIE) nomination for Best Latin Recording in 2014. Their second album, Volcán, (2017) has been hailed as "a bilingual folk album for the resistance" by the Washington City Paper. 

Huda & Kamyar is the duo of Huda Asfour and Kamyar Arsani. Huda comes from a musical family and began formal training in music in Tunis at the age of 13. In 1996, she joined the National Conservatory of Music in Gaza and later, in Ramallah, she was mentored by Khaled Jubran at the Edward Said Music Conservatory. In 2002, Huda joined Al Urmawi Center for Mashriq Music. Huda also trained under the famous Qanoun player Said Rajab in Cairo, Egypt. In 2004, Huda, together with Tamer Abu Ghazaleh, co-founded Jehar band, a musical experiment which molded Arabic folk and the classical Levantine Arabic repertoire into reinterpretations that would be relatable to young Palestinians emerging from the siege of the Second Intifada. Huda is the recipient of the 2009 Production Cultural Program by Al Mawred Al Thaqafi and the 2014 music production grant from the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture. Kamyar is a multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter born and raised in Tehran, Iran. Kamyar's musical mission is to spread cultural awareness and unity by mixing contemporary musical trends with traditional Persian folk music. At age 7, Kamyar began daf (Persian frame drum) lessons with Master Bijan Kamkar. Kamyar also spent time playing meditative rhythms for hours at a time for Sufis. Kamyar has spent over 20 years performing and researching the daf and its roots. His second instrument is the kamancheh (Persian bowed string instrument) and he studied it with Masters Ardeshir Kamkar and Sohrab Pournazeri. Kamyar has also taught himself how to play other instruments including guitar, a variety of percussion instruments, melodica, ukulele and more. Kamyar's songs and performances are inspired by the people of Iran and their history of struggle and protest.

Ship's Company Chanteymen is a group specializing in traditional songs from maritime communities. In the days of wooden sailing vessels, sailors sang work songs, known as chanteys, for the purpose of coordinating their actions during heavy labor. Often, they did this with the help of a chanteyman, a song specialist who traded his expertise in singing for a reduction in the hard labor of raising sails and climbing masts. Maritime communities also had other song traditions, from fishing songs to ballads of seafaring life. For 20 years, the singers of Ship's Company Chanteymen have shared these old salts’ songs with audiences up and down the East Coast. Often dressed in 19th century naval uniforms, they perform for historical reenactments, at historic venues, on board ships large and small, and at dockside bars, maritime museums, pirate festivals, and concert venues. The Chanteymen also organize chantey sings throughout the region at which everyone is invited to sing. Many of their songs have choruses and refrains, and they encourage the audience to sing with them, even in an august auditorium like the Coolidge! The Chanteymen have two CDs and have been nominated for a WAMMIE award from the Washington Area Music Association. The Chanteymen are a program of Ship’s Company, a nonprofit organization devoted to living history and nautical education.

A free noon concert series presented by the American Folklife Center and the Music Division of the Library of Congress. Most concerts are held in the Coolidge Auditorium (located on the Ground Floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress) or the Whittall Pavilion (next to the Coolidge, on the Ground Floor, Jefferson Building). Occasionally, concerts may be in other locations, which will be specified above in the concert description. Presented in Partnership with the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage. NO TICKETS REQUIRED.