The 29th Annual Claremont Folk Festival

For almost 30 years, the Folk Music Center in Claremont has hosted a one-day folk festival in town. It's a great opportunity to experience something local and different. If you haven't visited the Folk Music Center, located across the street from Rhino Records in the village, you are missing out on one of Claremont's most unique and interesting establishments. It was founded over fifty years ago by Charles and Dorothy Chase, who also happen to be the grandparents of the Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter Ben Harper. Harper and his family continue to run the store, which features folk instruments from both the United States and all over the globe.

The festival, which takes place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. this Saturday (May 1) at Sycamore Elementary School, represents the spirit of the center itself by featuring artists on two stages from all over the world, including the Caribbean, Africa, and the Middle East. There are, however, still plenty of American folk artists performing, such as Voco, an all female a capella group that sings American and Irish folk tunes with body percussion, and Lil Rev, who is renowned for his mastery of the ukulele. Although Harper is unable to attend this year, Leon Mobley, a member of the Innocent Criminals, will perform West African music with his band Da Lion.

In addition to music, the festival will also feature 28 different workshops throughout the day, which are all included in the price of the $15 general admission ticket. These workshops are taught by the artists themselves, like Lil Rev and and guitarist Fred Sokolow, who are acclaimed teachers in their instruments. Their are workshops for both beginners and advanced musicians, and they range in subjects from guitar to song to didgeridoo. Attendants can bring their own instruments (there is a secure area to store them), but a limited number will be provided for use by the Folk Music Center.

For those interested in other aspects of the folk world, art and craft vendors will be set up at the festival, selling handmade jewelry, instruments, and art. There will also be a raffle to win a guitar autographed by Ben Harper.  For children, there is a separate stage with story telling, a drum line , and a sing-along. Ages 5 to 17 get in for $5, while children under 5 are free.

For more information on the Claremont Folk Festival, visit

Leon Mobley tears it up: