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Posted on Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 10:44 a.m.

Ann Arbor Folk Festival 2012 lineup announced: Ryan Adams, Emmylou Harris, Glen Campbell and much more

By Staff

The Ark has announced the full lineup for the 2012 Ann Arbor Folk Festival, with headliners including Ryan Adams, DeVotchKa, Emmylou Harris, Glen Campbell and Nanci Griffith.

Tickets are currently on sale to Ark members, and to those buying higher priced Gold Circle, Platinum Circle and Benefactor Circle tickets. A student presale begins today, and tickets go on sale to the general public Dec. 1.

As has become its pattern, the festival—set for 6:30 p.m. Jan. 27 and 28 at Hill Auditorium—takes the approach of booking younger-skewing, more experimental/less traditional acts on Friday night, with somewhat more traditional performers on Saturday.

Comedian Heywood Banks will serve as master of ceremonies both nights. Much of the festival lineup had been announced previously, but the Friday night headliners were just named this morning. The full lineups:

Ryan Adams
Carbon Leaf
Elephant Revival
Sunny War
David Wax Museum

Emmylou Harris
Glen Campbell
Nanci Griffith
Joe Henry
Sarah Jarosz
Caravan of Thieves
Seth Glier


• Member presale: Tickets are on sale to Ark annual members by mail only through Nov. 30 and are priced at $47.50 for a single night. Series tickets (both nights) are $85. For information on becoming an Ark member call 734-761-1800.

• Gold Circle and Platinum Circle Tickets: Gold and Platinum Circle tickets - the best seats in the house - are on sale now until they are gone by calling The Ark office at 734-761-1800 or by mail. Gold Circle tickets are $80 for a single night and $145 for series tickets (both nights). Platinum Circle tickets are $160 for a single night and $290 for series tickets. Gold and Platinum Circle tickets include a tax-deductible donation to The Ark. Platinum Circle tickets include backstage passes during intermission and an invitation to a Saturday pre-glow party.

• Benefactor Circle Tickets: Benefactors receive all the benefits of Platinum Circle ticket holders and enjoy personalized seat selection and more. To become a Folk Festival Benefactor, contact Annual Giving Manager Tom Stoll or Executive Director Marianne James at The Ark office at 734-761-1800.

• Student presale: Students can purchase tickets in advance of the general public, today through Nov. 19, through the Michigan Union Ticket Office in person only with a valid student ID. Student tickets are priced at $35, $47.50 and $80 for a single night or $60, $85 and $145 for both nights.

• Public Sale: Tickets go on sale to the general public on Dec. 1 by phone at 734-763-TKTS or in person at the Michigan Union Ticket Office, Herb David Guitar Studio, the Ark box office, or online at General public tickets are $35 and $47.50 for a single night; $60 and $85 for series tickets.

Here are descriptions of all the Folk Festival performers, provided by The Ark:



As co-leader of the band Whiskeytown, Ryan Adams emerged into the 1990s alternative-country scene. But he's mercurial whirlwind of personality, and he has spilled over any genre category into which people have placed him, and has made music ranging from singer-songwriter folk to straight punk and even black metal. Ryan's mother was an English teacher, and he has said he was inspired by Edgar Allan Poe and Jack Kerouac when he was younger; he has written two books of fiction and poetry himself. His 2000 solo debut "Heartbreaker," produced by Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, was a landmark of Americana music that fused country, folk, and classic rock, drew comparisons to Gram Parsons, and included a gorgeous duet with 2012 Ann Arbor Folk Festival Saturday night headliner Emmylou Harris. Prolific, with ideas coming as fast as he could write and record them, Ryan released an album a year (or even more) over much of the past decade. His latest release, "Ashes & Fire," marks his return to recording following the disbanding of backing band the Cardinals in 2009 and a quiet period in which he married singer and actress Mandy Moore. Of "Ashes & Fire" Ryan says: "The record is obsessed with time. I believe that there is a kinder view of the self. I'm passing through my own life as a ghost, and looking at these pieces and places in my life. I'm looking at California, and the idea of being lost and found at the same time."


The name comes from the Russian word for "girl." For more than a decade, the Denver band DeVotchKa has welded its influences—from Eastern European wedding bands to Mexican norteño ballads—into an authentic and totally original blend of popular music. The members of DeVotchKa spent their early career fostering musical connections with fellow explorers like Calexico and gypsy punks Gogol Bordello. DeVotchKa’s major break came when Nic Harcourt of KCRW introduced his listeners to a then-unknown rock band on his daily radio show, “Morning Becomes Eclectic.” Filmmakers Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton were listening that day and stumbled upon the DeVotchKa sound for their movie "Little Miss Sunshine." Said the Boston Phoenix: "The lavishly theatrical circus band DeVotchKa delivers made-for-Hollywood gypsy punk, with a Clooney-esque frontman and a raucous stage show featuring a really, really hot tuba player." DeVotchKa has appeared at festivals like Coachella, Bonnaroo, Bumbershoot, and Lollapalooza, on "Austin City Limits," and at sold-out traditional venues like San Francisco’s Fillmore.


With admirers like Jackson Browne and Tom Petty keyboardist Benmont Tench in their corner, this self-described “American rock ‘n’ roll band” has drawn instant acclaim for its rootsy revitalization of classic L.A. rock. Dawes is a classic rock and roll ensemble: four talented friends making music together, fueled by a shared belief in the power of their songs. They blend singer/songwriter reflection with folk, country, and album-rock-inspired arrangements filled with ringing guitars, soaring harmonies, and heartfelt melodies. They're unmatched as road warriors, and that comes through in songs rich with weariness, longing, and restless reflection. Dawes exemplifies the so-called Laurel Canyon California folk-rock sound, with influences from Crosby Stills & Nash and Neil Young, but with a full consciousness of all the music that has come along since then.


The Richmond, Virginia-based group Carbon Leaf began as an independent band in 1992, then signed on with Vanguard Records for a three-album stint in 2004. Along the way they scored hit singles at both AAA and Hot AC Radio with "Life Less Ordinary" and "The Boxer," placed first in the International Songwriting Competition, won an American Music Award, and recorded the music for Universal's "Curious George II" soundtrack in 2010. Says the Washington Examiner: "Some call Carbon Leaf's music Southern, others label it Celtic, and still others say it leans toward bluegrass or some combination of formats. No matter what your take on the band's sound, almost everyone can agree that Carbon Leaf creates music that just isn't heard anywhere else—and that's what keeps fans clamoring for more music." Their down-home eclectic mix of folk-rock, Americana, Celtic, bluegrass, and pop is completely original, and they're coming to the Ann Arbor Folk Festival after an appearance at Seattle's prestigious Bumbershoot festival last summer.


Young in age and fresh in conception, Colorado's Elephant Revival brings creativity and inspiration that is felt by people of every generation. The neo-acoustic quintet is on the cutting edge of an emerging new genre known as Transcendental Folk. Individually and collectively the band members have performed with Bela Fleck, John Paul Jones, Michael Franti, Little Feat, Yonder Mountain String Band, George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic and Leftover Salmon. Elephant Revival delves into Scottish/Celtic fiddle tunes, original folk pieces, traditional ballads, psychedelic country, indie rock, powerful reggae grooves, '40s/'50s jazz standards, and an occasional hip-hop beat, but in whatever they do they keep a sense of encountering musical materials for the first time and finding their spiritual power. In the words of Marquee's Jefferey Keith: "Following the lead, but not the footsteps, of groups like Leftover Salmon and Yonder Mountain String Band, the five-piece Elephant Revival has created a unique and appealing modern acoustic sound simultaneously soaked in all manner of tradition."


Sunny War (born Sydney Lyndella Ward) is more than just an artist; she is a force of nature that is tough to pin down. What exactly is her style? Is she a blues or punk artist? The answer to both is yes and no. You can try to place Sunny in a few boxes, but doing so would be a disservice. Yes, she may be a Robert Johnson with a shot of Bad Brains, but even this description falls short. Sunny's childhood was nomadic, including stays in Colorado, Nashville, and Rochester, Michigan. She credits her mother’s boyfriends for introducing her to the blues, and once the creative fire sparked, there was no turning back. Sunny ended up in Venice Beach, California, where she has become a mainstay performer on the boardwalk. Local art and music advocates soon caught wind of her clawhammer style—a complex banjo style of guitar playing frequently used by Southern acoustic blues guitarists. Sunny writes political blues, sings about her personal experiences, and covers Johnny Cash and the Beatles, making songs you've heard hundreds of times totally new. That's because everything Sunny War does she makes completely her own.


Boston's David Wax Museum fuses traditional Mexican folk materials with American roots and indie rock to create what they call a unique "Mexo-Americana" aesthetic. Combining Latin rhythms, call-and-response hollering, and, when the situation calls for it, donkey jawbone rattling, they have electrified audiences across the country and are “kicking up a cloud of excitement with their high-energy border-crossing sensibility," according to The New Yorker. They kicked up quite a bit of interest at The Ark's annual Student Welcome show last September as well! David Wax's circuitous journey from mid-Missouri to the back roads of Mexico inspires the Museum’s blend of traditional Mexican and American folk music. While attending Deep Springs College, an unconventional school that doubles as a cattle ranch, David spent his summers working in rural Mexico with the American Friends Service Committee. He finished his degree at Harvard University before heading back to the Mexican countryside to study its rich folk music traditions on a year-long fellowship. It was there that he first began blending Midwestern folk with the instruments, rhythms, lyrical themes and song structures of the son mexicano. The result is something completely new in American roots music.


Our MC for both nights of the 2012 Ann Arbor Folk Festival is Heywood Banks. Heywood is simply one of a kind, with a style his very own. Equal parts genius and buffoon, this songwriter-comic-singer-poet-musician has become a cult hero and a pop icon, with a show that appeals to college students, stoners, businessmen, yuppies, rednecks, punks, kids, and/or your grandmother. Heywood intersperses his humorous observations of life with inventive, bizarre songs, sung and played in a variety of styles, from folk, to country to rock to pop, and way beyond. His material works on several levels—it gets pretty deep into pop culture, but you can also enjoy him just for his vocal style impersonations, expert musicianship, and just plain silliness. Heywood Banks has appeared on A&E's "Evening at the Improv," MTV's "1/2 Hour Comedy Hour," CNN's "Hollywood Minute," "Caroline's Comedy Hour," "Entertainment Tonight," "Showtime Comedy Club Network," "Dr. Demento Show," and the 12th Annual HBO Young Comedians Special with Paul Rodriguez, and he is a frequent guest on the national "Bob and Tom" radio show.




Emmylou Harris

In Nashville they call her the conscience of country music, but there's no label large enough to encompass Emmylou Harris. Over a career that's lasted more than 40 years, Emmylou has influenced musical movements from country-rock to the bluegrass revival to Americana, which she helped make into an ongoing genre with her remarkable 1995 album "Wrecking Ball." In the 1970s and 1980s, Emmylou helped reenergize traditional country music with her crystalline, silvery voice. By now she's something more: a singer who has realized the "Cosmic American Music" that was the dream of her onetime mentor, Gram Parsons. For her latest release, "Hard Bargain," Emmylou wrote all but two songs, using many of them to reflect on her truly remarkable musical life. She exemplifies country music as tradition and as deep creative wellspring. Emmylou Harris has long been a friend to The Ark - one of the great performers in the 35 year history of the Festival who has been instrumental in supporting us with her stunning performances. We are thrilled to have her on hand for the 2012 Ann Arbor Folk Festival.


It seems as though Glen Campbell, the man from Delight, Arkansas, has always been with us. With 17 gold albums and 27 top-ten pop and country singles, he has brought us songs—"Gentle on My Mind," "Galveston," "Wichita Lineman"—that are familiar evergreens in this country and around the world. But what's sometimes forgotten is that Glen's songs remain fresh because they were innovative in the first place. Glen released the first of his roughly 70 albums, "Big Bluegrass Special," in 1962, and he emerged as a top-notch instrumentalist who played guitar on the Beach Boys' "Pet Sounds." He identified unusual songwriters such as John Hartford ("Gentle on My Mind"), Jimmy Webb ("By the Time I Get to Phoenix"), and Allen Toussaint ("Southern Nights") as sources of country-pop hits that sounded like nothing else on the radio in the 1960s and 1970s. In recent years Glen has experienced a career revival, collaborating with younger artists such as Jakob Dylan and the Foo Fighters, and his latest album, "Ghost on the Canvas," was released on August 30, 2011. He has announced that that album and his current tour, featuring members of his family in his band, will be his last. We are honored to welcome a legend of American popular song to the Ann Arbor Folk Festival for a farewell appearance.


"Nanci Griffith," writes Jon Cummings of Popdose, "is arguably the most important folk-music artist of her generation." You can make a good argument for that: no other songwriter has fused introspective folk songwriting with popular roots so thoroughly. On Nanci's own 18 albums she draws on personal confessions, a photographer's eye for Texas landscapes, and social and political themes, forging a kind of homespun but often complex Texas poetry that nobody else has quite matched. She also has a portfolio of songs that became major country hits for other artists, like "Love at the Five and Dime" (Kathy Mattea) and "Outbound Plane" (Suzy Bogguss). In the genre of the woman-hitting-the-road anthem, Nanci achieved a pair of enduring classics with "Listen to the Radio" and "Ford Econoline." Nanci's latest album, "The Loving Kind," finds her at the top of her game as a songwriter, interpreter, and singer. We welcome Nanci Griffith for her fifth appearance at the Ann Arbor Folk Festival; her first was in 1985, and new facets of this diamond have appeared every time since then.


Joe Henry, says the San Francisco Chronicle, "is one of the great unknowns." Trying to classify Joe by genre is futile. He's been active as a singer, songwriter, guitarist, and producer for more than 20 years, and he's kept people guessing the whole time. Joe has recorded country, hard rock, and electronic albums, and lately he has called himself a jazz artist. Yet his voice is consistent. Joe writes spare, episodic lyrics that look for meaning between the lines and among life's small moments. Who else could compare a woman to “an anvil,” “a bomb scare” and “Roosevelt’s funeral in the street”—in the same song? Raised in Michigan, Joe is married to Madonna's sister Melanie Ciccone, and he's been a creative producer of everyone from Ramblin' Jack Elliott to Harry Belafonte to now the Carolina Chocolate Drops. On his last several albums, including the new "Reverie," Joe has shown a gift for using historical styles in startlingly creative ways. "Like the very best songwriters," writes Thom Jurek of the All Music Guide, "Henry is able to move back through historical time, capture the spirit of various eras without nostalgia, blur them, and scratch them into his own present."


Sarah Jarosz (juh-ROSE) is a bluegrass artist and a great deal more. She plays enough instruments to be called a one-woman string band: mandolin, clawhammer banjo, and guitar, for starters. She sings in supple tones that blur the folk-pop boundary, and she writes songs that range from dead ringers for old-time ballads to lyrically rich singer-songwriter reflections. Raised near Austin, Sarah signed with the Sugar Hill label when she was a senior in high school. She has studied at the New England Conservatory, been nominated for a Grammy, and performed on "Austin City Limits" and "A Prairie Home Companion" and at the likes of the Bonnaroo, Telluride, and Newport music festivals. Her musical horizons broadened on her recent sophomore release, "Follow Me Down," which featured guest appearances from the Punch Brothers, Shawn Colvin, and Bela Fleck. But you can't buy Sarah a drink to congratulate her for her accomplishments—she's only 20 years old.


The members of Caravan of Thieves describe themselves as (get ready) "gypsy swinging serenading firebreathing circus freaks." For the past three years this caravan has roamed the North American continent recruiting a family of avid thrill seekers at their high-energy shows. Driving gypsy jazz rhythms, acoustic guitars, upright bass and violin lay the foundation for mesmerizing vocal harmonies and fantastic stories. The music of Caravan of Thieves is theatrical and humorous. It’s musical and intense. It entertains, dazzles, and defies classification while welcoming the spectator to join the band throughout the performance in momentary fits of claps, snaps and sing-alongs. If Django Reinhardt, the cast of Stomp and the Beatles all had a party at Tim Burton’s house, Caravan of Thieves would be the band they hired!


Seth Glier compels attention with his powerful falsetto, melodic prowess, and what Performer Magazine calls his “intoxicating groove.” The 22-year-old singer, pianist and guitarist, who abandoned studies at the Berklee College of Music after one year because he “decided I should be playing for people and not for grades," aims straight for the gut and has quickly established himself on the national scene, performing over 250 shows a year. Seth has shared stages with such diverse artists as James Taylor, Mark Knopfler, The Verve Pipe, and Ellis Paul, who raves, "Talent like Seth Glier's brings out the psychic in all of us . . . He's gonna be huge." Seth was raised on the music of Joni Mitchell, Martin Sexton and Randy Newman, but considers his brother to be his greatest influence. “My brother is autistic and non-verbal. I learned to communicate with words better once I realized how to communicate to someone without them.”


See description for Friday, January 27.