2016 Folks addition: DakhaBrakha

When we began the Folks Festival 26 years ago, the mission was to be a “summit on the song,” bringing together music and songs from around the world. Over the years we’ve featured many artists from the UK, Australia, Africa, India, Canada, and even Russia (folk-rock band Limpopo played the 2nd and 3rd annual Folks). In that spirit, we’re excited to present the Colorado debut of the wonderful world-music quartet from Kyiv, Ukraine…

(Performing on Sunday afternoon, August 21)

Seated in front of percussion, along with cello, accordion, and other Indian, Arabic, African, Australian and Russian acoustic instruments, the beautifully dressed quartet of 3 women (wearing gorgeous hats that need to be seen) and a man, have been difficult to describe: “ethnic chaos”, “folkdrone Björkpunk”, “slavic doo-wop”…

In the description of their fantastic NPR Tiny Desk Concert, Bob Boilen wrote that they “make music that sounds like nothing I’ve ever heard, with strands of everything I’ve ever heard. There are rhythms that sound West African and drone that feels as if it could have emanated from India or Australia. At times, DakhaBrakha is simply a rock band whose crazy homeland harmonies are filled with joy.”

I’ll boldly predict that DakhaBrakha will be one of the most talked-about sets of the 26th Annual Folks, opening our ears and minds. Rolling Stone called them the “Best Breakout” at the 2014 Bonnaroo, after a set that “ended up with one of the most receptive crowds of the weekend… turning the tent into a happy menagerie.”

I’ve been fascinated by their open-minded album “Light” (available on Spotify or Bandcamp), which twists Ukranian folk songs with indie, soul, rock and other modern styles in ways that are surprising and enthralling. But their more minimalist live instrumentation - focusing on rhythms and voices - takes this to yet another place, more rooted in the Ukranian singing tradition - thrilling, surprising, heavy, and ultimately nourishing.

Here’s a full set from last year: www.youtube.com/watch?v=4E3IOVn9zb0

YIKES!!! I have no idea what they are singing about but my feet knew. Hard to sit still and captivating!

Thank you for the Addition of DakahBrakha, it was my most free moments of the fest, perhaps it was the letting go of translating lyrics and just feeling the sound. The emotion on the performers faces was enveloping.