Arts Fest concert! Press-Citizen article

The Family Folk Machine will sing at Arts Fest this June, and we are thrilled and honored to perform with our friends the Awful Purdies. You can catch our joint performance on the Main Stage at 1 p.m. June 3.

How do you merge a 60-voice intergenerational choir with a band of five women playing instruments and singing in rich harmonies? Very carefully! We’ll be singing eight of the songs the Family Folk Machine wrote in groups under the guidance of the Awful Purdies this winter. The songs cover a wide range of mood and tone, and the Awful Purdies’ musical versatility allows them to bring a customized instrumentation to each song. Their instrumental forces will be augmented by two regulars from the FFM band: professional fiddler Tara McGovern and talented multi-instrumentalist Craig Klocke. A couple of the songs will feature FFM kid instrumentalists as well.

Along with the new songs from our grant-funded songwriting project, we’ll perform three songs from the Awful Purdies’ catalog of originals, with added parts for the choir. These songs really fit the Folk Machine ethos of caring community and active social engagement, and choir members have loved learning them.

“The Most,” by Sarah Cram, sets beautiful words to haunting music: “The most beautiful thing in this world, the most gracious thing in my life, the most noble deed of this time is to know you care, and it will be all right.”

“Let Her Learn,” by Nicole Upchurch, presents a vision of warm community relationships with friends and family of different generations: “I’m grateful for my family/linked not by blood, but by unity.”

And “Lament to Apathy,” by Marcy Rosenbaum and Rose Madrone, is a call to put aside our fears, embrace hope and “join the chorus” to work for justice.

Looking back, the good folks at Senior Center Television have posted videos of the songs from last November’s Family Folk Machine concert at the Old Capitol on the University of Iowa campus. You can find these videos and many others by looking for the Family Folk Machine on YouTube or by checking out the SCTV YouTube channel.

And looking forward, our fall FFM rehearsals will begin on Aug. 20. We’ll start our work on a program of songs with the theme of home. The Family Folk Machine welcomes new and returning singers of all ages with any level of musical experience.

After the glow of Arts Fest has subsided, be sure to check out the Longfellow neighborhood’s Front Porch Music Festival on June 10. The festival features all sorts and kinds of musicians playing outdoors, and the variety is exhilarating. The FFM will host our monthly sing-along at the festival from 3 to 4:30 p.m. on someone’s porch (or, possibly, yard), and we’ll also have a short FFM performance set. You can also check out girls’ trio the Skipperlings, a Folk Machine offshoot.

Hope you can join the Family Folk Machine at Arts Fest for the culmination of our songwriting project!