The U. of C. Folk Festival returns to Hyde Park

Staff Writer

The 54th annual University of Chicago Folk Festival will take place Friday, Feb. 14 through Sunday, Feb. 16, at Mandel Hall, 1131 E. 57th St.

Since 1961, the concert has been a neighborhood haunt for folk legends from mandolinist Bill Monroe to bluesman Muddy Waters.

This year’s acts will span eight genres including blues, bluegrass, gospel, Cajun and Irish folk. They include: gospel singer Calvin Bridges, Cajun band Sheryl Cormier and Family, Appalachian artists Anna Roberts-Gevalt and Elizabeth LaPrelle, Irish traditional musicians The Yanks, Paddy Homan, Dennis Cahill and Teresa Shine, old time band Bigfoot, and bluegrass group Bobby Hicks and Friends.

In addition to performances, the festival will feature more than 15 music and dancing workshops.

“I was just blown away by how good all these artists from all these categories were,” said U. of C. Folklore Society Co-President William Cramer, who first attended the festival as a college freshman volunteer.

Now a senior, the astrophysics student voted with his fellow club members on who to invite to this year’s event, supported in part by the university but mostly by ticket sales.

In addition to ticket revenue, the festival depends on a roster of volunteers, who are promised free admission to a night of performances in exchange for three hours of help. Cramer estimates 75 to 100 people will volunteer this year.

“If anyone wants to volunteer and they just show up and say, ‘We’re looking for something to do, to help out,’ we’ll make sure to have a job,” Cramer said.

For more information — or to sign up to volunteer before the last minute — send an e-mail to