Concerts from the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress

SEPTEMBER 20, 2017, 12:00 PM, No Tickets Required

Clockwise from top left, Dom Flemons photographed by Steve Winick, Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer photographed by Michael G. Stewart, Seth Kibel courtesy of Seth Kibel, Phil Wiggins courtesy of Phil Wiggins, Cissa Paz photographed by Erin Scott.Image Credit: Clockwise from top left, Dom Flemons photographed by Steve Winick, Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer photographed by Michael G. Stewart, Seth Kibel courtesy of Seth Kibel, Phil Wiggins courtesy of Phil Wiggins, Cissa Paz photographed by Erin Scott.

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. Now for the first time, we’re bringing this program here to the Coolidge Auditorium!  For this edition, AFC invited 5 distinguished Washington, D.C.-area 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 just a couple of songs from the archive to show what a tremendous resource it is for creative work. The artists are Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer, Dom Flemons, Seth Kibel, Cissa Paz, and Phil Wiggins. 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!

The Artists

Phil Wiggins is a two-time winner of the prestigious W.C. Handy Blues Foundation awards, and only the third harmonica player to receive the lifetime honor of an NEA National Heritage Fellowship, which he just received in 2017. He is a versatile traditional harmonica player, continuing the Piedmont blues tradition, a gentle and melodic blues style of the mid-Atlantic region. He plays the diatonic ten-hole harmonica, cupping both hands around the instrument and playing acoustically. Over the years, he has played with Flora Molton, Johnny Shines, Sunnyland Slim, Sam Chatmon, Robert Belfour, Howard Armstrong, John Jackson, and Archie Edwards. His duo with John Cephas performed for 32 years, including shows at Carnegie Hall, Royal Prince Albert Hall in London, the Sydney Opera House, and the White House.

Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer are two-time GRAMMY Award winners who play bluegrass, old-time, folk, and Americana for kids and adults. They have entertained the Queen of Thailand, been keynote singers for the AFL-CIO, and appeared on the Today Show and on National Public Radio. They have advocated in Washington for unions, health care for children and the rights and livelihoods of artists. They have performed at hundreds of bluegrass and folk festivals. The Washington Area Music Association has recognized the duo with over 60 WAMMIE Awards for folk, bluegrass and children’s music. They have performed with Pete Seeger, Theodore Bikel, Tom Paxton, Patsy Montana, Riders in the Sky and a wide range of musical luminaries.

Dom Flemons is a musician and singer who currently tours and records as “The American Songster.”  He plays a variety of traditional music styles, from hokum blues to cowboy ballads, and from banjo jigs to panpipe tunes. He draws influences from ragtime, Piedmont blues, spirituals, southern traditional music, string bands, fife-and-drum music, and jug bands. Dom was one of the founders of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, with whom he has played all over the world (including at the Library of Congress’s Coolidge Auditorium), and with whom he won a GRAMMY Award.  Dom has visited the AFC’s research center many times, and is a passionate advocate for the materials we preserve in our unparalleled archive.  He has even blogged for AFC!  Dom was the first artist to play at the first Archive Challenge in February 2015.

Seth Kibel is the leader, clarinetist, and composer for The Alexandria Kleztet, the Washington area’s premiere Klezmer ensemble.  He can also currently be seen with the Bay Jazz Project, swing and jump blues band The Natty Beaux, and Russian/Gypsy/Klezmer ensemble Music Pilgrim Trio. Seth has appeared with such notables as Sam Moore (Sam & Dave), Percy Sledge, The Coasters, and Johnnie Johnson. Seth was named "Best World Music Instrumentalist" by the Washington Area Music Association (WAMA) every year from 2003 through 2011. In 2012, he was bestowed the honor of "Emeritus" status in this category. In 2005, 2007, 2008, and 2011-14 he was also named "Best Jazz Instrumentalist."  In 2017, his song "New Waltz" took home the Grand Prize in the Mid-Atlantic Song Contest.

Cissa Paz is a Brazilian singer and songwriter who performs in Portuguese, Portuguese Creole, Spanish, French, and English. The diversity of her cultural experience merges with her taste for new combinations, as she creates and rearranges songs drawing on the rich traditions of Afro-Brazilian and Luso-African music. Cissa’s passion for music started with dance, and she studied ballet, jazz, modern dance, and the urban styles of samba and salsa. Her dance background is reflected in her music, giving most of her songs a rhythmic pulse that gets people on their feet. Cissa’s sound was initially influenced by samba, afoxé, forro, maracatu and the popular music of Brazil. After moving to the U.S., she fell in love with RnB, Soul and Hip Hop, as well as music from Cape Verde and the Lusophone diaspora.   

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.