The Ark Hosts Annual Folk Fest

The Ark will be holding its 47th annual Folk Fest from January 26-27, sponsored by The Bank of Ann Arbor. This is the biggest fundraising event of the year and takes place at Hill Auditorium. Showcasing both veterans and new talent, this event is not only a fundraiser but a celebration of  folk music. 

Famous Actor and Musician Jeff Daniels is set to MC both nights of the festival. Jeff Daniels has been a hit as both a headliner and an MC in previous years. 

Photo of Devon Gilfillian provided by Barb Chaffer Authier.

Barb Chaffer Authier, marketing director for The Ark says that Daniels is “a hometown hero for us, he’s been a supporter of the ark for many, many years.” 

Autheir talks about the expansion of the festival for the first time since the pandemic.  “It’s pretty exciting to be back all the way,” she says. 

The event has not had a full two nights since 2020. In addition to the traditional two nights, The Ark is also putting on the warm up event called On a Winter’s Night that takes place on January 18. This will feature four folk musicians in a casual setting performing each other’s songs. The artists attending this event are John Gorka, Patty Larkin, Lucy Kaplansky and Cliff Eberhardt.

Old Crow Medicine Show will headline the event on Friday night. This seven man band possesses a robust discography filled with rock infused string music. They have taken the stage of both the Folk Festival and the Ark in years past. Devon Gilfilian, Bailen, Darren Kiely and Sons of Mystro will also be performing Friday the 26th. These artists will be performing again at The Ark later in the year. 

Photo of Emmylou Harris provided by Barb Chaffer Authier.

Emmylou Harris is a fifteen time Grammy Award winning artist and the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award. She will be headlining the festival on the 27th. Michigan Rattlers, Steve Poltz, Lizzie No and The Sea The Sea will also be performing on Saturday the 27th. You can look forward to seeing these artists later in the year as well. 

 Singer-songwriter Lizzie No has been described by NPR as a “magnetic performer and a rising star in the folk world” . She released her debut album “Hard Won” in 2017 and her new album will be released January 19. 

“I’m really excited to perform ‘Getaway Car’ and ‘Shield and Swordoff of this new album,” she said. 

The singer describes what events like this mean to her as both a musician and a fan “It’s an all ages, intergenerational, international genre” she said. “The folk festival circuit is where I really check in with my folk music family.”

She adds that she is looking forward to seeing the Michigan Rattlers who will also be performing on Saturday evening. 

Because the event takes place on the University of Michigan campus, there are few options for free parking. Authier recommends the campus lots and structures near the event for a small price and a bit of walking. There will also be no food concessions on site so it is recommended to eat before attending the event. The start time has been moved back from 6:30-7pm to accommodate for this. Flash photography and the use of electronic devices is not permitted. There is also no specific bag policy. 

“The Ark is one of the longest standing non-profit venues in the country” Authier explains. “We’re part of bringing a live and thriving cultural atmosphere to the Ann Arbor area.” 

This event helps support local shops, restaurants and most of all musicians. It is a fun way to spend a weekend raising money, discovering new talent, supporting artists and listening to great music. 

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