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Posted on Wed, Jan 25, 2012 : 5:58 a.m.

'Folk the Police' giving rap hits a folk makeover at the Blind Pig

By Jennifer Eberbach

Folk the Police, a genre-bending “folk tribute to hip-hop and gangster rap,” returns for its second year at the Blind Pig on Jan. 29 at 8 p.m.

Folk the Police poster.jpg
The show is a pet project of 107.1-FM radio host and music promoter Matthew “Tuna” Altruda. One day a few years ago, he asked himself, “How hilarious would it be to have folk, bluegrass, and rock musicians covering gangster rap songs?” and made the poster so he would not forget the idea, he says.

He likes to keep the song lineup a secret before the show, even from the performers. But he let it slip that some of the big hits the acts will cover come from House of Pain, Tupac, LL Cool J, and Eminem, among many others. Bands and solo artists will play two reimagined rap songs apiece.

Performers include headliner Jamie Register, Dragon Wagon, Rootstand, The Appleseed Collective, Back Forty, Heroes On Parade, Lake Folk, Wolfie Complex, Hana Malhas, Nathan K, Match By Match, Nicole P’Simer, and collaborative performance GOOD N GANGSTER featuring Chris Good, Brennan Andes and Michael Anne Erlewine. Local hip-hop group Tree City will turn the event on its head by turning folk songs into hip hop.

Local musician Christopher Norman’s rendition of “No Diggity, No Doubt” won the Folk the Police Video Contest.

Altruda thinks Folk the Police has more going for it than a typical cover show. “I was blown away by the show last year by how seriously all of the musicians took it. They just killed their songs,” he says. He agrees that the “folk-interpretations” that the bands come up with might better be described as “creative arrangements” than mere covers.

Altruda connects with many bands and solo artists through his radio show, “Tree Town Sound,” on 107.1-FM Sundays from 6-7 p.m. Nearly all of the bands in the show have performed live sets on his radio show. And when he is not managing local band the Macpodz, he works on other Ann Arbor events such as Sonic Lunch, Taste of Ann Arbor at the Ann Arbor Art Fair, FestiFools, and FoolMoon.


'Folk the Police'

  • Who: Matthew Altruda organizes a lineup featuring Jamie Register, Dragon Wagon, Lake Folk, Tree City and more.
  • What: Hip-hop classics get a folk makeover, in honor of Folk Festival weekend.
  • Where: Blind Pig, 208 S. First St.
  • When: Sunday, Jan. 29, 8 p.m. (doors).
  • How much: $10.
“Everything is overlapping" these days, he says. "It’s not like back in the day when, if you were a bluegrass player, you wouldn’t have known NWA,” the inspiration for the show’s title and posters featuring famous pictures of rapper Eazy-E. “Now, everyone knows about everything. You can’t go up to 10 random people on the street in Ann Arbor and not find out that probably half of them like hip-hop. It’s part of our music culture, along with all of the others types of music people are exposed to.”

“Last year, and I expect this year will be the same, it was all the diehard music fans coming out to see local artists do something different. Hearing them cover these songs and knock them out of the park makes you want to hear their own music,” he says. He hopes this year’s event will help generate interest in live music in town.

Folk the Police was scheduled for the Sunday after the Ann Arbor Folk Festival on purpose, although the two events are not affiliated. Whereas all of the festival’s acts are out-of-towners, the majority of the performers at Folk the Police are local.

“It’s all about timing in the music business,” Altruda says. The show piggy-backs off of the festival when “there will already be a ton of live music fans in town that weekend, and there will be a ton of excitement around the festival. Why not take Sunday night and make it part of the whole folk music weekend?”


Homeland Conspiracy

Wed, Jan 25, 2012 : 1:28 p.m.

If you get a chance check out Hank Williams III cover of Gin & Juice


Wed, Jan 25, 2012 : 1:16 p.m.

Is the M1911A1 the official sidearm of rapdom?

rusty shackelford

Wed, Jan 25, 2012 : 12:48 p.m.

This will probably rule. See also: the Punk Goes Crunk compilation from Fearless Records.