The Ark in Ann Arbor stands as one of the foremost listening rooms in the nation and prides itself on its audio-curatorial prowess. Throughout the year, they book the most powerful local and international voices in the folk, roots and world music genres. But it’s during the Ann Arbor Folk Festival that they really get to spread their wings and bring some very big names to Treetown. Because The Ark is a not for profit venture, they rely on memberships, donations and big events like this one to maintain their stellar roster year after year. For the Folk Fest, The Ark (a tiny place if you’ve ever been there) takes over U of M’s Hill Auditorium and packs the house for two evenings of folk revelry. The 2013 fest will take place on January 25 and 26, and you’d be hard pressed to decide which night wins out with outrageous talent that will be present both Friday and Saturday.
The event kicks off with City and Colour headlining Friday night, supported by the likes of critical darlings Trampled by Turtles. Sixto Rodriguez is one of the more interesting inclusions on this year’s bill. The Detroit native labored in relative obscurity in his own country while experiencing a rather bizarre popularity in parts of Africa. Since the release of the film “Searching for Sugar Man,” detailing his extraordinary trajectory, he is enjoying a much belated respect and appreciation. Local yokels Frontier Ruckus will also take the stage and bring the level of energy that is only hinted at by their title. Family band Delta Rae will make the trek from North Carolina for the evening. Brown Bird will share their eclectic brand of “Pakistani surf-rock, Romani folk and rock ‘n’ roll.”
Night two features one of the most hotly anticipated bands of the festival: The Head and the Heart, which have been described as “Americana meets the Beatles.” Translated that means bright instrumentations and killer harmonies with some down home heart. Saturday night also boasts not just one but two Williamses (as in Lucinda and Dar). Besides sharing a surname, these ladies have blistering songwriting chops and distinctive voices. Lucinda has been named “America’s best songwriter” by Time Magazine in addition to her enviable catalog that stretches back over 30 years. Frank Fairfield will also be in attendance and the Steel Wheels will bring the roots flavor from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Brother Joscephus and the Love Revival Revolution Orchestra were a late addition to the bill and promise to be a crowd pleaser with their “12 piece feel-good explosion of love, righteousness and New Orleans soul.” And Drew Nelson is sure to keep the audience entertained.
Colin Hay will be the MC for both nights, and his reputation as a one man band with a gut busting sense of humor and his serious folk-cred make him a pretty perfect choice for the job. If you’re lucky enough to score tickets to this year’s Ann Arbor Folk Festival, you’re sure to leave with your toes thoroughly tapped and a taste for some moonshine. Enjoy!