But seriously, folks
The Morris Burner Hotel Folk Festival
Have you noticed the number of banjos on the radio lately? Those, along with fiddles and acoustic guitars have seemed to dominate pop music lately. Between the omnipresence of Mumford and Sons’ last hit single and the word “hey!” that Lumineers seem to be constantly yelling from every chain restaurant speaker, the so-called folk revival is unavoidable.
Reno’s music scene is no exception to the national wave of folk stylings.
And like many genres, with a density of bands in the same place, it calls for a relatively centralized hub. In this case, a festival.
The Morris Burner Hotel Folk Festival, to take place July 18-20, seems to be a fairly comprehensive bill of new and old folk alike.
“Sometimes what we do gets lost in bars, and we’ve been trying to get away from the one acoustic person that opens up the show type thing.” says Josiah Knight, a local singer-songwriter and organizer of the folk festival. The folk scene needs more intentional shows, he says, where people are there specifically to hear the music.
The three-day weekend festival will be host to 25 bands with varying flavors of folkiness, from indie to bluegrass. The diversity in folk sub-genres is intentional. Jill Marlene, another organizer of the festival, hopes to interest older fans to hear younger people play, and vice versa, in an attempt to crosspollinate scenes with similar foundations.
However, it’s not only various folk subgenres the festival is meant to transcend. Since it will be held at the Morris Burner Hotel, Marlene hopes that it will bridge the gap between the Reno folk and Burner communities too.
When you think about Burning Man music, there’s a good chance you jump to, “oonce oonce oonce,” “wha wha” triplets, or “boom,” followed by an air brake release valve. The accordion probably isn’t at the top of the list.
“I love the electronic music, but folk music also works on a philosophical level with Burning Man,” says Marlene. “Folk is about discussing ideas, and sharing them with a community.”
The folk festival is not directly associated with Burning Man, but Marlene hopes to mobilize Reno’s Burner community to a type of event that they might not normally frequent, in a location they might.
In addition to donating 20 percent of the profits to the homeless shelter next door, The Morris Burner Hotel Folk Festival is a tribute to the recently passed Pete Seeger. Each band has been asked to cover one of his songs.
Seeger’s grassroots activism, Marlene says, is a solid fit with the festival’s politics.
“We live in an overloaded, over-engineered, corporate culture and both folk and Burning Man are all a direct response to that. … You can hear the rebellion of the human heart coming through.” That’s a feeling both communities can agree on, she says.
The festival will be held on one outdoor stage, but Marlene emphasizes the efforts being made to create a comfortable mid-summer outdoor event. There will be plenty of shade, misting tents, couches and good spots to set up lawn chairs and blankets.
The folk festival is a commendable event for cultivating a community in Reno, and, most of all, for not using “folk” to pun on the word “fuck” in the event’s name.