Tucson Folk Festival

2013-05-02T00:00:00Z Tucson Folk FestivalStories by Gerald M. Gay Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Musician David Bromberg will serve as the cherry on top of a giant Tucson Folk Fest sundae that will bring at least 15,000 people downtown this weekend.

The two-day event will feature more than 120 music acts on five stages - two in El Presidio Park, two at the Tucson Museum of Art and one in the courtyard at La Cocina.

Bromberg will headline Saturday with his brand new quintet.

Local blues player Stefan George will close out the fest on Sunday on the Plaza Stage, with a set that includes songs performed with his partner Lavinia White, harmonica player Tom Walbank, his new band the Ditchriders, and on his own.

George's new group is made up of Tucson music scene veterans, including White, accordionist Gary Mackender, bassist Jay Trapp and pedal steel guitarist Neil Harry.

"We made the decision a few years ago to make the Sunday headliner a local headliner," said Jim Lipson, president of the Tucson Kitchen Musicians Association, which runs the event. "We have so much rich talent in this town. Stefan is going to bring us a varied show, which we find exciting."

Other prominent acts performing include John Coinman, whose band Modern West has been backing actor-turned-country singer Kevin Costner for several years.

Coinman takes the Plaza Stage at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

The Tucson-born duo known as Ryanhood and singer-songwriter Linda Chorney are also on the schedule.

Chorney has the distinction of being the first independent artist to be nominated for Best Americana Album at the Grammy Awards in 2012, using social media to get on the ballot.

Lipson said the Folk Festival has branched out when it comes to whom organizers have chosen to perform.

"We define folk music in so many different ways," he said. "It is like the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. It has been many years since it has been strictly a bluegrass festival."

Lipson said the Folk Fest continues to be on good financial footing thanks to an increase in fundraisers held for the event throughout the year.

Partnerships with The Fox Tucson Theatre and KXCI (91.3-FM), which worked with the TKMA on its Festivus event at El Casino Ballroom last December, have allowed the TKMA to raise significant "chunks of change" in short order.

On June 8, the nonprofit is bringing longtime mandolinist David Grisman, known for his collaborations with the likes of Jerry Garcia and Peter Rowan, to the Fox.

When August rolls around, the organization plans on starting a regular Saturday concert series at Monterey Court Studio Galleries on West Miracle Mile.

"We've made fundraising less ad hoc and more like having a plan," Lipson said. "We hope to hold a minimum of five events a year. So far, there has been a lot of help and collaboration."

Lipson said the main source of revenue at the festival historically has been the beer and merchandise sales, things like souvenir posters and shirts.

This year's designs that will be used on most of the merchandise were created by Arizona Daily Star cartoonist David Fitzsimmons.

The cash raised helps make the annual event, now in its 28th year, that much sweeter.

"Hopefully, when all is said and done, we'll have a little bit more than we started with," Lipson said.

Contact reporter Gerald M. Gay at ggay@azstarnet.com or 807-8430.

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