Ann Arbor Folk Festival Celebrates 40 Years


For its 40th year, the Ark Folk Music Festival is encouraging roots music fans to “find their folk.”

Thousands of folk music lovers are expected to visit the Ann Arbor-based Hill Auditorium on Jan. 27 and 28 for the annual fundraising festival hosted by the Ark, a nonprofit folk and ethnic music venue in Ann Arbor.

The Ark’s marketing director Barb Chaffer Autheir says this year’s lineup is built with the festival’s milestone anniversary in mind. “There are folks on the bill we’ve had a great relationship with for a long time,” she says.

The festival opens Friday night with Nahko & Medicine for the People, Kacey Musgraves, and Jenny Lewis accompanied by the festival’s MC, singer-songwriter Susan Werner.

Honoring the past 40 years of fundraising, Indigo Girls and Over the Rhine will both return to play the festival for the first time in over a decade on Saturday. Margo Price, Kiefer Sutherland and others will join the bands Saturday night for the festival’s closing “super-jam.”

“There are a lot of names on the lineup that people might not recognize,” Caffer Autheir says. Valerie June, Zach Heckendorf, and Ann Arbor’s own Corn Potato String Band were all picked with the time-honored tradition of featuring new and emerging musicians. “We have a large venue and large audience and can present newcomers and give them exposure,” she says.

Unlike some other music festivals, the Ark Folk Festival doesn’t offer alcohol or food to patrons or allow guests to bring in their own refreshments. There is “just a focus on the music,” Chaffer Authier says.

All proceeds from the event will go towards The Ark’s current campaign goal of $2.5 million to update the venue with new equipment and bathrooms.

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