Folkies return to Hyde Park event

By JEFFREY BISHKU-AYKUL
Assistant to the Editor

The 53rd Annual University of Chicago Folk Festival will take place at Mandel Hall, 1131 E. 57th St., this Friday through Sunday, Feb. 8 to Feb. 10.

Festival concerts will be held in the venue beginning at 8 p.m. on Friday, 7:30 p.m. on Saturday and 6 p.m. on Sunday. They feature performances by eight different acts – including returning blues guitarist Elmore James Jr. and bluegrass band Danny Paisley and The Southern Grass – and music from a variety of folk sub-genres, including Cajun, Irish and gospel.

“We’ve had quite a few legends,” said fourth-year U. of C. economics student Devyn Russell, co-president of the University of Chicago Folklore Society, which organizes the event.

According to a poster on the society’s website for its first festival in 1961, famed South Side resident and journalist Studs Terkel was the emcee that year and performers included Blues Hall of Fame inductees Memphis Slim and Willie Dixon. Muddy Waters would later perform for the festival, as well as Howlin’ Wolf in 1968.

According to Russell, who has now been co-president of the Folk Society for three years, the organization is “all volunteer-run,” and only the performers and a sound engineer will be paid.

“So our budget is smaller than a lot of other festivals you hear about, but because we have that history … people want to come to perform just for the name.”

In addition to the festival’s three evening concerts, the public will be invited to meet performers on Saturday and Sunday at free daytime workshops at Ida Noyes Hall, 1212 E. 59th St., from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For more information about the festival, visit uofcfolk.org. General admission tickets are $25 for Friday and Saturday concerts and $20 for Sunday’s concert. Seniors and students receive discounts and weekend passes are also available. Tickets and passes may be purchased on the website or by calling or visiting the Mandel Hall Box Office, 773-702-7300.

j.bishku@hpherald.com