Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers

Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers. 2016 FOLK FESTIVAL

Here's a full list of the performers at this weekend's Richmond Folk Fest held on Brown's Island Oct. 7 to Oct. 9.

Click on each picture to find out more about the performer, learn where they're from, listen to audio and watch video clips.


Adonis Puentes has said, “My mission in life is to share my music, giving people joy.” Propelled by the rhythms of his sextet, the Voice of Cuba Orchestra, the multitalented Puentes—an accomplished guitarist, percussionist, and songwriter—transports listeners to Cuba, his birthplace, through the mesmerizing sounds of son.

The sound of the Balinese gamelan is instantly recognizable: at once earthy and ethereal, it is a centuries-old music that is both deeply traditional and nearly avant-garde in its stylistic complexity and innovation. The Balinese All Stars are a multi-generational collective of exceptional musicians and dancers whose members live, teach, and dance all across the United States, and who gather together for special performances to present this rich tradition.

BeauSoleil translates as “beautiful sunshine.” It’s also the name of the 18th-century Acadian rebel leader, Beausoleil Broussard, for whom “the most famous Cajun band in the world” is named. Although BeauSoleil has performed in different configurations since its founding 41 years ago, it began as an acoustic trio. At this year’s festival, BeauSoleil’s Michael Doucet, David Doucet and Mitchell Reed offer up glorious twin fiddle and fiddle-accordion pairings with acoustic guitar, beloved sounds from the heart of Cajun tradition. The BeauSoleil Trio pays homage to past Cajun masters with delightful stories of the musicians from whom they learned and with beautiful tunes performed with freshness, immediacy, and unmatched virtuosity.

Ben Hall is an exciting young guitar master keeping the Kentucky tradition of “Travis-style” thumb picking alive and relevant for old and new generations of fans alike.

In southern Italy, the music that accompanies the trance-like dance ritual of tarantism nearly vanished before becoming the most prominent symbol of a regional resurgence. Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino (CGS), a seven-member ensemble from the Salento peninsula of Apulia, known as the “the heel of the boot” of Italy, led this revival of interest in the music and dance of Salento. In the process, the group became the biggest stars of Italian traditional music.

Mamulengo is a puppet tradition from northeastern Brazil. Although the origin of the name is subject to debate, one prominent theory has it coming from the Portuguese mão molenga, meaning “soft hand,” a suitable attribute for a deft puppeteer like Simões.

The young man born Gary Anderson formed his first doo-wop group, the Turks, at the tender age of 13. Frank Guida “discovered” the teen singing in front of the neighborhood market and together they set about making the first of a string of hits. Unbeknownst to Gary, Guida shipped that first recording, the 1960 party single “New Orleans,” in record sleeves labeled “by U.S. Bonds,” hoping to harness disc jockeys’ patriotism in order to get airplay for his fledgling studio; from then on, Gary Anderson was known as Gary U.S. Bonds. His first #1 hit, “Quarter to Three,” soon followed. Bonds’ star power and undeniable talent in front of the rollicking Norfolk Sound made the 20-year-old singer an immediate hit internationally—the band that would become the Beatles opened for Bonds on his first European tour!

One of the nation's most exciting performers of zydeco, Geno Delafose heats up the clubs and honky-tonks of Southwest Louisiana every weekend with this irresistible dance music—that is, when “The Creole Cowboy” is not busy operating his Double D Ranch in Eunice.

The evocative music of Homayoun Sakhi and Salar Nader tells a story of hope and perseverance, both of the Afghan people and of their traditional music.

When Jason D. Williams sits down at the piano and pounds the keys—with his fingers, and elbows and boots—hollering about hillbillies, holy rollers, and drinking sweet wine, he declares that the 60-year-old tradition of rockabilly is alive and kicking.

Joe Mullins has built a life on "banjo picking and broadcasting" and that's why the bluegrass band he leads is called the Radio Ramblers. Carrying the family torch lit by his highly respected father, Paul “Moon” Mullins, Joe is a driving force in the world of bluegrass. 

The Kaynak Pipers Band plays the traditional music of the Rhodope Mountains of southern Bulgaria. In the relative isolation of the Rhodope region, the kaba gaida (deep or soft bagpipe) remains almost unchanged from its original form. 

Kevin Locke, a member of the Hunkpapa Band of the Lakota Sioux, is known worldwide as a master hoop dancer, a preeminent player of the Northern Plains courting flute and a traditional storyteller, as well as a cultural ambassador and educator. 

Emerging out of the urban centers of the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire), soukous is one of the most influential music genres to come out of Africa in the last century. In the late 1930s and early 1940s, musicians in Kinshasa mixed sounds from South America and the Caribbean, especially Afro-Cuban and Haitian elements, with traditional Congolese music.

Building on their long friendship, master musicians Paddy Keenan and Jimmy Noonan bring the undeniable vitality of these informal musical gatherings known as sessions, or seisúns, to the stages of the Richmond Folk Festival.

Phil Wiggins is arguably America’s foremost blues harmonica master. He achieved worldwide acclaim as one half of the premier Piedmont blues duo of Cephas & Wiggins.

Seventh-generation ballad singer, storyteller, and musician Sheila Kay Adams is a national treasure. She performs the old mountain ballads, stories, and songs with a sense of conviction, honesty, and dignity that reveals a deep respect for tradition, and demonstrates the emotional intensity of the unadorned human voice.

Classically trained in the Kandyan tradition, Tanya DeSilva started a dance school for young girls in her Staten Island attic in 1992, shortly after she emigrated from Sri Lanka. From these modest beginnings grew the Sri Lankan Dance Academy of NY, which today trains approximately 50 students in Kandyan dance and drumming traditions.

At this year’s festival, people of all cultural backgrounds, faiths and ages are invited to join the Jewish community of Richmond for a special ecumenical tashlikh ceremony, led by Rabbi Michael Knopf of Richmond's Temple Beth-El. This unique experience is a meaningful Jewish rite for the practitioner, and the perfect introduction to Jewish culture for the uninitiated.

Two of the biggest names in beatboxing today, preeminent master Rahzel and rising star Nicole Paris, are redefining the limits of the human voice. Beatboxing is a form of vocal percussion considered the “fifth element” of hip hop culture, completing the quintet of hip hop art forms along with DJing, MCing, graffiti, and breakdance.

More Folk Festival

Folk FestivalFind more audio, videos, photo galleries and articles on the Richmond Folk Festival here.


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