Canadian Folk icon Bruce Cockburn to headline 10th Annual Ferdinand Folk Fest

The Ferdinand Folk Fest announced its headliner and musical lineup for the 10th annual festival to be held Saturday, September 21, in 18th Street Park.

Headliner Bruce Cockburn will close out the evening from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m.

Few recording artists are as creative and prolific as Bruce Cockburn (pronounced CO-BURN). Since his self-titled debut in 1970, the Canadian singer-songwriter has issued a steady stream of acclaimed records — 33 studio albums to date — capturing in song the essence of human experience, while fiercely striving to make it better.

For his many achievements, the Ottawa-born artist has been honored with 12 Juno Awards, an induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, and a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award, and has been made an Officer of the Order of Canada. But he never rests on his laurels. “I’d rather think about what I’m going to do next,” says Cockburn. “My models for graceful aging are guys like John Lee Hooker and Mississippi John Hurt, who never stop working till they drop, as I fully expect to be doing, and just getting better as musicians and as human beings.”

Cockburn has enjoyed an illustrious career shaped by current events, global awareness, spirituality, and musical diversity. His remarkable journey has seen him embrace folk, jazz, rock, and worldbeat styles while traveling to such places as Guatemala, Mali, Mozambique and Nepal, and writing memorable songs about his ever-expanding world of wonders. “My job,” he explains, “is to try and trap the spirit of things in the scratches of pen on
paper and the pulling of notes out of metal.”

That scratching and pulling has earned Cockburn high praise as an exceptional songwriter and a revered guitarist. His songs of romance, protest and spiritual discovery are among the best to have emerged from Canada and the U.S. His guitar playing, both acoustic and electric, has placed him in the company of the world’s top instrumentalists. He remains deeply respected for his activism on issues from native rights and land mines to the environment and Third World debt, working for organizations such as Oxfam, Amnesty International, Doctors Without Borders, and Friends of the Earth.

Throughout his career, Cockburn has deftly captured the joy, pain, fear and faith of human experience in song. Whether singing about retreating to the country or going up against chaos, tackling imperialist lies, or embracing ecclesiastical truths, he has always expressed a tough yet hopeful stance.

“We can’t settle for things as they are,” he once warned. “If you don’t tackle the problems, they’re going to get worse.”

His commitment to growth has made Bruce Cockburn both an exemplary citizen and a legendary artist whose prized songbook will be celebrated for many years to come.

Cockburn won the inaugural People’s Voice Award at the Folk Alliance International conference in February and will be inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in September. He continues to find inspiration in the world around him and channel those ideas into songs.

In 2014 he published his memoir, Rumours of Glory. “Forty Years in the Wilderness” ranks alongside “Pacing the Cage” or “All the Diamonds” as one of Cockburn’s most starkly beautiful folk songs. Other famous songs include “Lovers in a Dangerous Time”, “Wondering Where the Lions Are”, “If a Tree Falls”, “If I had a Rocket Launcher”, “Call It Democracy”, “Rumors of Glory”, “Lord of the Starfields”, and “Last Night of the World”.

Chastity Brown (with band) will perform from 5:45 to 7:00 p.m.

Based in Minnesota, with roots in Tennessee, Chastity Brown grew up surrounded by country and soul music. In the full gospel church of her childhood, she played saxophone and drums and found her singing voice and a passion for music. Her first show was in Knoxville and then it was on to Minneapolis. She’s been featured on NPR’s “Favorite Sessions,” CMT, American Songwriter, the LondonTimes, Paste Magazine, and others, and has toured the U.S. and abroad.For much of 2016, she toured alongside folk icon/activist Ani DiFranco.

An artist who can plumb the depths of sadness in a single note, then release it in the very next breath, Brown melds folk, pop and soul, weaving together a poet’s lyrical ear and a soul-laid-bare quality. “I’m really intrigued by the perseverance of the human spirit and the complexities and contradictions that we embody as human beings,” Brown says. “I write for and from the marginalized experience—for the truly triumphant spirit that’s been through [a lot], and has fought her/his way through it to maintain a sense of dignity and peace of mind. My hope is like that of Alice Walker’s, ‘Where there are tears, there will be dancing.’”

Light is a central character on her Red House Records debut album Silhouette of Sirens. “I think it’s about different types of heartbreak, and how one deals with it,” Brown says of the album. “And not the heartbreak of a coupled relationship—just living life, and the experiences that break your heart. There are these moments on the album where it’s like, ‘this is intense.’ And then hopefully, there are moments where it’s alleviated—as I feel like life is. Life is hard. Every tree, every plant, everything you see in the natural world, just through a growth process, you see how hard it is to grow and bend toward the light.”

“I grew up in a trailer park in Union City, TN, with an incredible mother, brother and sister and a very abusive stepfather,” she states. “There have been times throughout my life since leaving home when I experience debilitating flashbacks both while waking and asleep. Music has been my lifeline.”

Way Down Wanderers, 4:15-5:30 p.m.

Crowd-favorite, mainstage artists from the 2015 Folk Fest, The Way Down Wanderers return from Peoria, Illinois, the heartland of America. The band has toured extensively across the US, Canada, and the UK, performing an official showcase at the Americana Fest in Nashville, earning honors from American Roots UK (Top Albums of the Year List 2017), Songpickers’ Best Songs Spotify Playlist (2016), and a finalist in the 2016 International Song Writing Competition.

Their distinctive, highenergy performances draw on elements of bluegrass, touching on classic rock influences like the multi-part harmonies of the Beach Boys, The Band’s hybrid soul, the roots qualities of The Avett Brothers and Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit—with surprising elements of jazz, classical, reggae and hip-hop. Their live shows are unique, communal experiences with acoustic encores sometimes taking place out in the audience and drummer Merikoski’s famous spoon solos.

“We have a loyal and loving fan base,” says band member Collin Krause. “This is a pretty tight-knit group, and we make friends wherever we go. We’ll often end up staying overnight at fans’ houses. We really live off the generosity of strangers.”

The band’s two chief songwriters Austin KrauseThompson (vocals and guitarist) and Krause (vocalist on mandolin, violin, and electric guitar) are joined by John Williams (vocals and upright base), John Merikoski (percussion), and Travis Kowalsky (banjo and fiddle).

The Way Down Wanderers may sound like some long-forgotten bluegrass band from the Coens’ O Brother Where Art Thou (like that film’s Soggy Bottom Boys), but they prove to be much more than that on their latest album illusions, which addresses love, loss, and personal evolution. The album, exploring the tug of memories and the passage of time, set against the beauty and eternal clock of Mother Nature, delivers roots-influenced, rhythmically modern songs.

Thematically steeped in folklore, illusions is also present and alive, penetrating heart, mind, and body with an island beat, a mid-song rap, and a closing Foggy Mountain Breakdown-style banjo.

Amber Rubarth will perform from 3-4 p.m.

Nashville, Tennessee-based Amber Rubarth has toured solo across South Africa, Europe, Japan, and throughout America with her “unique gift of knocking down walls with songs so strong they sound like classics from another era.” (Acoustic Guitar Magazine).

She was recently cast alongside Joe Purdy to star in the feature film American Folk, which won numerous festival awards and was released in theaters January 2018. The film received high praise, the Hollywood Reporter calling it “Superb . . . A heartfelt homage to American folk music,” and Rolling Stone dubbing the first single “Enchanting . . . beautifully recalls several of the duets that John Prine has sung so effectively with frequent partner Iris DeMent, yet it offers the added bonus of discovering two wondrous new voices.”

Her most recent release, Wildflowers in the Graveyard (2017), explores nature’s relationship with life, death and rebirth, and was coproduced by Matt Andrews (Gillian Welch, Dave Rawlings, Dawes).

Rubarth left home at 17 to become a chainsaw sculptor in Nevada. At 21, she quit and decided to write songs and teach herself guitar. One of her early originals was awarded Grand Prize in NPR’s Mountain Stage New Song contest and led to her recording an album produced by Jacquire King (Tom Waits, Norah Jones). She has performed on hundreds of stages around the world, from the early days opening for a flea circus at a Texas theme park, to performing an original duet with Jason Mraz at Carnegie Hall, to full orchestral arrangements of her songs with the Ithaca Chamber Orchestra woven into classical works.

She moves fluidly between genres, creating a unique palette of instrumentation for what best serves the song. This fluidity and curiosity has offered her opportunities to open for diverse artists including Emmylou Harris, Kenny Loggins, Richie Havens, Dr. Ralph Stanley, and Loudon Wainwright III. Rubarth has written original songs and score for numerous films including Sundance Film Festival winner Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work and the super-marathon documentary Desert Runners. She cofounded The Paper Raincoat, a Brooklyn-based iTunes Indie Artist Spotlight band featured in Disney’s The Last Song and the CW Network’s One Tree Hill.

Paste Magazine stated, “We think the world might be a little better if everyone heard this record.” In 2016 she recorded an album with her folk trio Applewood Road, which the London Sunday Times gave 5 stars, calling it “a flawless set that has to be the most haunting release of the past year”.

It led to performances at Glastonbury Music Festival, Cambridge Folk Festival, a UK tour supporting Mary Chapin Carpenter, and an original arrangement and performance featured in the BBC Sisters in Country documentary with Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris.

Honeysuckle performs from 1:45-2:45 p.m.

Named Best Folk Artist at the 2018 Boston Music Awards, Honeysuckle is a progressive acoustic trio that blends the traditional instrumentation of bluegrass and folk with modern effects, beautiful songwriting, and masterful, intricate arrangements.

Their distinct brand of baroque, elevated Americana has earned the Berklee College of Music (Boston) alumni appearances at Lollapalooza in Chicago and Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island.

The band has received a nomination for Best Folk Artist of the Year and Best Americana Artist of the Year four years in a row at the annual Boston Music Awards. They were also honored to make the Top 10 Bands of 2016 So Far list compiled by NPR.

Lead singer Holly McGarry plays banjo and guitar. With her raspy, slippery, Appalachian-tinged vocals, she is accompanied by Benjamin Burns on vocals, guitar, and banjo, and Chris Bloniarz on vocals and mandolin. The Boston-based band performs across the country, playing alongside bands like Del and Dawg, The David Grisman Sextet, The Ballroom Thieves, Boy & Bear, Kitchen Dwellers, Sam Moss, The Western Den, John Craigie, Damn Tall Buildings, and others.

Honeysuckle released their sophomore album, Catacombs, in late 2017. They also have two previous titles: Honeysuckle (full length 2016) and Arrows (EP 2015). They’re currently beginning to work on their third full-length album. Current nominees for both Best Folk and Best Americana artists for this year’s Boston Music Awards alongside the aforementioned Grey Season, Honeysuckle takes on the bluegrass-Americana folk trio sound at its best, with vocals from singer Holly McGarry that layer exquisitely over loose banjo, mandolin, guitar, and harmonies, culminating in a truly American sound that reportedly thrilled the crowd along the water’s edge at Newport Folk Festival this summer.

Beau Troesch, 12:45-1:30 p.m.

Beau Troesch is a locally grown musician currently residing in Aspen, Colorado. Back in his hometown and fresh off a cross country bike ride, Beau will be strumming up original writings with family heirloom harmonicas and lyrics that tell stories of adventure, hometowns, and the people that make up it all.

You can’t mistake obvious influences from greats like Neil Young and Bob Dylan, but heavier are the influences of a harmonica-playing grandmother, guitar-playing uncle, and a father blasting Tom Petty in the garage. Beau kicked off the first-ever Ferdinand Folk Festival in 2010.

Strings of Indian Creek, 12-12:30 p.m.

The Strings of Indian Creek are a progressive, Americana folk rock band blending multiple genres of music, including bluegrass and country, to create a fun and enthusiastic musical experience.

Hailing from Southern Indiana and comprised of Chris Bell on vocals, guitar, and banjo, Arianna Cox on vocals and guitar, and Brandon Bambusch on percussion, they deliver a wide range of lyrical and musical creativity. When not on stage, they represent diverse walks of life—from a lineman, to a food server, to a geologist.

Some of their influences include Billy Strings, The Grateful Dead, Miranda Lambert, Kasey Musgraves, Yonder Mountain String Band, and more from multiple genres from folky banjo tunes to hard rock. They have performed at the Burnt Knob Music Festival in Louisville, Rockin’ the River in Bedford, and were showcased on the main stage last year through the Ferdinand Folk Festival Singer-Songwriter Contest in 2018.

Regional Singer-Songwriter Showcase, 11-11:45 a.m.

Regional artists who advance to the fifth-annual Ferdinand Folk Festival Singer-Songwriter Showcase will kick off the festival on the NextEra Energy Main Stage.

Contest details will be announced in the coming weeks, and winners will also perform in the St. Benedict’s Brew Works Theatre in Ferdinand on Sunday, August 11.

This year’s Ferdinand Folk Festival co-presenting sponsors are Best Home Furnishings and MasterBrand Cabinets. The sponsor of the main stage is NextEra Energy Resources. Founding sponsors are Town of Ferdinand, Ferdinand News, and DC Broadcasting/101 Country WBDC. Publication of additional sponsors will be forthcoming.

The Ferdinand Folk Festival—a free, earthfriendly, family-friendly event—promotes music, art, environmental awareness, and wellness. The homegrown festival offers extensive, fun, and educational activities for children and all ages. To help celebrate the ten-year anniversary, the festival committee is adding some new activities this year.

For additional information and updates, visit in the coming weeks and find the festival on Facebook.