BUTTE, MT - Every year for the past 12 years, this beautiful state of Montana gets to experience the free, fun, and phenomenal Montana Folk Festival in Butte. This year is a special one...for no other reason other than I'm really looking forward to it like usual. Plus, we all just get to have a special time, right?

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If you don't know what the Montana Folk Fest is, all you need to know is that: (1) the music isn't just folk; (2) it's hosted in Butte, MT in the gorgeous location of Uptown Butte; (3) it goes on for 3 rocking days, Friday July 14th, Saturday July 15th, and Sunday July 16th; and (4) you will definitely have an awesome time. All other info you can find elsewhere since we're here for a different reason today.

Alright, I'll get to why we're here. The first 7 performers for 2024 Montana Folk Fest have been announced, and some of you may be seeing them for the first time. I thought it'd be nice to get to know them and what to expect. Hint: all 7 are going to knock it out of the park.

Let's meet the 7 performers, each with a video, a short bio, and my raw reactions listening to each performer.


Jerry Douglas Band (Bluegrass, Nashville, TN)

Jerry Douglas, a master of the Dobro resonator guitar, leads the band through the fusion of traditional bluegrass with elements of jazz, rock, and definitely some country. Douglas' insanely talented playing and uncommon compositions have not only shifted boundaries of bluegrass, but have also earned him widespread acclaim as one of the genre's most influential figures.

My raw reaction: I want to get up and dance. The melodies and song structures remind me of old school bluegrass, but there seems to be a modern feel to the pieces, creating something truly unique and dang fun. I'm excited to dance with my lady and make her knees hurt.

 Los Texmaniacs (Texas Conjunto, San Antonio, TX)

Built from the ground up in San Antonio, Texas, Los Texmaniacs carry the torch of Texas Conjunto, a genre that blends Mexican folk music with German polka's rhythms and instruments. Their sound is a vibrant celebration of cultural fusion, bringing together accordion-driven melodies and a robust rhythm section that invites listeners to dance. They also have one of the best band names in the biz.

My raw reaction: I was skeptical at first going in, but after listening to a few tracks, I am very excited to see these guys perform. The entire time during their set, people were laughing, clapping, and radiating happiness, and I must say it was contagious. I want to sit on a porch on a ranch in the prairie and enjoy these tunes.

El Laberinto del Coco (Bomba Fusion, New York, NY)

El Laberinto del Coco, based in New York City, offers a contemporary take on Bomba. Their music is not just a performance but a communal experience, inviting audience participation and celebrating the African heritage and cultural resilience of the Puerto Rican community.

My raw reaction: What a fantastic vibe these guys give off. I imagine these guys sparking a lot of romances, first-time kisses, and matching up strangers to dance together. The vocals are a great touch, with harmonies blending together like a delicious smoothie. Plus, every musician is pitch perfect with their performances. Lots of great drumming.

Sheryl Cormier (Cajun Accordion, Carencro, LA)

Hailing from Carencro, Louisiana, Sheryl Cormier is a trailblazer in Cajun music, a genre deeply rooted in the Acadian and French-speaking communities of Louisiana. Known as the "Queen of Cajun Accordion," Cormier's mastery of the instrument—and her dedication to preserving Cajun music traditions—have made her a beloved figure.

My raw reaction: I see why they call her a Queen in her respective field. She is absolutely shredding it on the accordion, and you can tell the crowd is loving it. She makes someone like me, who has no real experience with her instrument, appreciate it like it's a long lost friend. Hyped to see her perform this year.

Le Vent du Nord (Quebecois, Quebec, Canada)

Le Vent du Nord is a powerhouse in the world of Quebecois traditional music, a genre that draws from the deep well of French-Canadian folk traditions. The band is known for its spirited performances, rich vocal harmonies, and masterful use of instruments like the hurdy-gurdy and accordion. Le Vent du Nord celebrates Quebec's cultural heritage while addressing more contemporary themes.

My raw reaction: I'm a sucker for anything French, and these guys do not disappoint. I feel as though I'm living in a French painting, the cobblestone streets lined with lampposts and carriages, heading out to go to a pub with my friends in the 1800s when I listen to their music.

Fran Grace (Sacred Steel Gospel, Toledo, OH)

Fran Grace stands out in the Sacred Steel Gospel tradition, a genre that brings the soul-stirring sounds of steel guitar into the heart of gospel music. Grace's music is a testimony to the power of faith expressed through the resonant strings of the steel guitar. Her performances are deeply emotional and spiritually uplifting, offering a unique blend of gospel tradition with the expressive possibilities of the steel guitar.

My raw reaction: Oh, Grace and your band, take me to church! This reminds me of a more faith-based and bluesy Alabama Shakes, one of my favorite bands. Grace is looking to be on that list soon, too, it seems. This is for all music lovers.

Fred Thomas (R&B/Funk, New York, NY)

Fred Thomas brings the groove of R&B and Funk from the bustling streets of New York City. Known for his iconic vocals and contributions to the James Brown band, Thomas has been a staple in the R&B and Funk scenes, bringing energy and soul to his performances.

My raw reaction: I've been transported to the streets on New York in 1971, and I am LOVING it. Thomas has an awesome, unique voice, and the band brings their own flavor to the table—each member crushing it on their instrument. I am going to freakin' jam to this performance, I can feel it.

Who are you guys most excited for? More information on Butte's Montana Folk Festival 2024 can be found here.

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