Thursday, August 19, 1999
4:00 - 10:00 pm
Island Park - downtown Fargo, ND
7th ST & 5th AVE South
printable map

A limited number of 1999 t-shirts are available here!
Information about Fargo Folk Festival 2000

PLEASE NOTE: The Fargo Folk Festival was held for two years - in 1999 and 2000. Unfortunately, it has been discontinued. There is another festival in the area - the North Central Regional Folk Festival - presented by Deb Jenkins and Cindy Belohlavik, and you can find information here.

the performers...

Brenda Weiler Band

Only eighteen years old when she opened a Richie Havens concert, Fargo native Brenda Weiler (rhymes with "tyler") was already a distinctive songwriter and performer. Recently returned from a two-month tour of the West Coast, Brenda has continued to earn rave reviews in every new market she plays. From Santa Cruz to Salt Lake City, Denver to Chicago, audiences immediately connect with Brenda's forthright style, extraordinary voice, personal lyrics and superb songwriting.

In only one year of full time touring, audiences and music industry professionals alike are recognizing her singular talent -- Brenda received nominations for both 1999 Minnesota Folk Artist of the Year and Minnesota Folk Recording of the Year for her newest release, crazy happy.

Dirty Linen, the leading contemporary folk and acoustic magazine, describes Brenda's singing, "With hints of Dar Williams and Tracy Chapman, Weiler's bright voice is the attraction here...Brenda Weiler is someone to watch." And one of several recent album reviews from Brenda's new home town of Minneapolis:

"Once in a blue moon, an album arrives with so much passion and vulnerability it demands undivided attention. The record industry has yet to come up with a parental-warning for such releases, but a spin through the CD player seems to scream, "How dare you leave me in the background!" Such is the case with Brenda Weiler's sophomore effort; a listen to crazy happy holds both the unnerving rush of thumbing through a stranger's journal and the warm comfort of finding your own thoughts and feelings in someone else's words.

"Though her songs explore a fairly well worn subject -- the deceptively simple struggle to find happiness -- their beauty comes from Weiler's fearless intimacy. From 'Willing's awkward surrender to romance ('You taste just like I thought you would/You feel alright by me/It's been awhile for me you know/but I'm willing to let things just be') to 'Changes' harsh look at body image ('Why do you feel you should change?/What did your mother teach you?/Your thighs are as small as your arms/ but they're not supoosed to be'), her unflinching candor remains the heart of this album.

"Shifting gracefully from an Ani DiFranco-like bounce to somber a cappella tones, Weiler displays not only a strong vocal range but a gift for melody that entices listeners into her songs. The album's tight production ties everything together, keeping the strength of her guitar and vocals intact amongst the bass, organ, and drums that surround them. Equal parts sorrow and outright joy, crazy happy stands out as one of the most moving works to arise from the local music scene all year." (Bill Snyder, Twin Cities Revue, Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN, May 27, 1999)

Brenda performed on the Fargo Folk Festival with her crazy happy rhythm section: Peter Niblock (Sinéad O'Connor, Van Morrison) on drums, and Al Bergstrom on bass.



Mason Jennings Band

A genuine Minneapolis sensation this past year and winner of 1999 Minnesota New Band of the Year and Minnesota Folk Artist, here's what some of the press had to say about Mason Jennings, his new band, and his self-recorded self-titled debut 8-song EP:

"When you first hear Mason Jennings sing out loud, you're caught off guard, wondering what bizarre condition could enable a 24-year-old kid with an acoustic guitar to sound like a 94-year-old blues singer. But when Jennings calms to a rolling lull--that's when you're sold. For sure, his vocals are expressive. But Jennings never succumbs to Michael Bolton Syndrome, never overextends himself to force an emotional effect--the tragic flaw of many guy singers. Jennings's voice is the listener's entry point into his intense, acoustic-based rock songs, which begins to explain why his star is rising locally at an unusual rate. It also helps explain why he was nominated for six Minnesota Music Awards in his band's rookie year--including Best Male Vocalist, a category he might very well have won if not for popular favorite Dan Wilson. Jennings's voice is an archetypal one, which could spawn hapless imitators in years to come." (CITY PAGES: Best of the Twin Cities 1999, BEST MALE VOCALIST)

"At 12:40 a.m. on a Thursday night in early February, the shadowy chamber of the 400 Bar resounds with the loudest audience sing-along the club has had in of this writing, Mason Jennings is a bona fide sensation. Jennings would rather not be pegged a 'folk sensation,' however, even though he plays acoustic guitar exclusively, live and on record. "Do you like folk music?" Jennings inquires, leaning against the bar at the 400 a few hours before the band's show on February 25. 'I think it's kind of wussyish. It's like a preset for writing music, and I can't write with presets. I play an acoustic guitar for its rhythmic qualities--the cadences--you know?'

"Folk, in the hippie sense, is probably a limiting designation for Jennings, whose acoustic-based rock songs strive to incorporate an amalgam of influences including punk, rural blues, Appalachian balladry, hip hop, north Indian sarod music, and, recently, a splash of roots reggae...His lyrics, sung with a down-home drawl and a rapper's sense of meter, hit with a deceptive directness that has seduced a diverse crowd, from recovering indie rockers to baseball-cap-wearing guy-guys. Many of these fans seem most entranced by Jennings's understated voice: When he pushes it from his gut, it's surprisingly weathered, as if fried by decades of abuse. 'I'm one of the many people who have heard Mason's voice and pictured some 45- or 50-year-old guy sitting on the porch in the Mississippi delta,' says bassist Skoro, as he prepares to board the stage for his pre-Mason acoustic act. 'I've heard recordings of him when he was 18 or 19, and he sounds really old then. At 12 years old, the guy sounded like Don Henley.'" (The Mason Jennings Line by Simon Peter Groebner - CITY PAGES: March 10, 1999)



John Hermanson Band

At an age when many musicians in the cluttered, highly-competitive world of acoustic "New Folk" music are scrambling to get a first record out, 28-year-old John Hermanson has boldly stepped out of a critically and financially successful duo with nine discs already under its belt to go it alone. As "Chris & Johnny" and, later, "Storyhill," he and partner Chris Cunningham spent ten years writing and touring, and independently released nine CDs which have sold more than 30,000 copies. Now, the dynamic guitarist with the resonant tenor has launched his career as a solo artist with the release of his self-titled CD.

The duo's long-time fans will rejoice at the return of That Voice--with its seemingly limitless power and expressiveness--even as they'll no doubt be dumbstruck by the maturing depth of the lyrical content and the stylistic expansion into previously-uncharted waters. For all of the familiarity still present at the core of Hermanson's music--the easy tunefulness and frank, introspective outlook-- traces of a fresh, revitalized viewpoint echo throughout. Words float on elaborate, sometimes unpredictable melodies. Guitar work varies from percussive strumming to delicate, melodic fingerstyle and shows an effortless enjoyment of his instrument. John Hermanson presents a bold look into the future of the singer/songwriter--honest and compelling songs made unique by adventurous arrangements and daring delivery.



Chris Bucheit

After twenty years of playing guitar (ten years of it writing, recording, and performing in successful pop bands), Chris Bucheit (pronounced boo-kite) has reached a new musical destination. Chris Bucheit, a finalist for the 1998 Telluride Folk Fest Troubador Contest, has been turning heads anywhere he has shown up with his guitar. His style was spawned from the musical streams of Leo Kottke and Rick Ruskin, but he has found his own voice: blending Pop, Jazz, Folk and R&B into seamless and memorable compositions.

Chris notes, "When I finally found my way to acoustic fingerstyle guitar after years of playing electric lead and rhythm guitar, I started to discover my own voice on guitar. All my stylistic influences come together in my acoustic music. I've always been drawn to Folk, Pop, Alternative, Blues, Jazz and Big Band, but they all seemed mutually exclusive, until I found acoustic guitarists that were blending all these styles. Fingerstyle has become the moniker for this approach. You might hear a country lick on top of a diminished jazz chord inside a contemporary arrangement of an old standard. That continual sense of discovery is the real appeal of fingerstyle guitar." This mastery is the foundation of his debut CD, Naive Work Songs. And he sings, too -- for ten years as the front-man for a smart power pop band called Big Citizen, Chris offered up his lyrical ability with powerful vocals. His new CD, Hand to Mouth, is half instrumental, half with vocals.




Bec Smith

Minneapolis singer/songwriter Bec Smith began her career at Moorhead State University where she was a performer on numerous Meltdown concerts and her stunning original songs were featured on several Dragon Tracks CD compilations. After leaving MSU and her native North Dakota in 1996, Bec found herself starting over in Minneapolis, where she has since been performing and working on her debut CD recording.

During the past three years, Bec Smith has been a frequent performer in Minneapolis at venues including the Fine Line and 400 Bar. Bec is assembling a band to augment her rich and eclectic songwriting style. A popular performer on last year's "Unplugged at the Plains - Rush Hour Concert" Series at Fargo's Plains Art Museum, Bec's dark, expressive voice illuminates her sharply visual, personal lyrics in a style reminiscent of Suzanne Vega and Tori Amos.


This popular Fargo folk duo has made their mark with fresh songwriting, warm and delicate vocal harmonies, intricate guitar work, and intense performances. Their 14-song debut CD, Open Road Sessions, has acquainted many with their sincere spirit and outstanding musicianship. Often described as a 90s version of Simon and Garfunkel, the duo most recently attracted the attention of North Dakota's Prairie Public Television, who featured Flatlands in a 15-minute interview on the statewide feature show, Plains Talk.

The duo, consisting of Bill Lempe and Eric Addington, has performed throughout the Fargo-Moorhead area and around the region during the past two years and we are pleased to feature Flatlands as the opener to the first-ever Fargo Folk Festival.



the sponsors...

This first-time event was dreamed up and is presented by these fine folks who love and support acoustic music all year long:

Barking Dog Records
Zandbroz Variety
Luigis Restaurant
Full Circle Cafe/TSW Catering
Plains Art Museum
High Plains Reader
Fargo Park District