There are only 53 days to go until the start of the 2015 American Folk Festival. As we look forward to all the excitement and the wonderful music we’re going to hear this August, I want to take just a moment to look back at two friends who passed away this year.
In February, the legendary Robert “Wolfman” Belfour, who performed at the AFF in 2006, died at the age of 75. The Wolfman was raised in Red Banks, Mississippi, and learned to play the guitar from his father. When most of us think of Mississippi Blues we think of Delta Blues, but Wolfman played the music of his youth growing up in the Hill Country. A strong percussive stroke on the guitar was his trademark, and when he died, he was one of the few people still playing that authentic Hill Country style of music. It is so important for us not to forget where so much of our popular music of today came from. If you would like to listen to a great example of his unique style and passion for the blues, check out this video.
Also this year the world of traditional arts lost one of its foremost leaders, the renowned Joe Wilson. He served as executive director of the National Council for the Traditional Arts and produced countless festivals, national tours by musicians and dancers, international tours and more. He was a leader in producing LP’s, CD’s and films documenting a wide-array of folk music and he was no stranger to our festival.
“Joe was instrumental in making sure that Bangor became part of the nationwide legacy of the National Folk Festival,” said American Folk Festival Executive Director Heather McCarthy. “When he ‘interviewed’ our community in 2001, he knew immediately that the Bangor Waterfront could become host to a summer-long season of music. He also met – and energized – the people who would ensure that his vision of the traditional arts festival would take root in Bangor. He was a friend to me and the City of Bangor. He will be missed.”
Well said, Heather. Though I never met Mr. Wilson, I feel like we owe him a debt of gratitude.
Robert “Wolfman” Belfour 1940-2015
Joe Wilson 1938-2015