Some students may think that UNCG and North Carolina A&T are “suitcase schools”. They may also say that there is little to do in Greensboro on the weekends. This past weekend was anything but dull. The National Folk Festival brought a presence of diversity and community into flourishing our downtown.
It’s typically cliche when people say that an event has something for everyone, but in regards to the Folk Festival, that statement really rings true. One great thing about the festival is that showcases the folk music of various cultures. An example of this is Zydeco which is a musical genre evolved in southwest Louisiana by French Creole speakers. Zydeco blends blues and r&b with music indigenous to the native people of Louisiana. Other genres include bluegrass, reggae, hip-hop and all sub-genres in between.
The artist that I had the most hyped to see was Grandmaster Flash. Having the chance to see one of the hip-hop’s seminal artists was an amazing opportunity. Flash’s set brought the rawest energy of any act at the festival by far. Just the age range alone at the Dance Pavilion was two years to ninety years old. There was that awkward period at the beginning of the show where the crowd couldn’t decide whether or not to commit to the energy of the show. Grandmaster Flash smashed through the opening awkwardness with a thunderous fury, and everyone collectively lost their minds. He masterfully scratched his way through timeless hits, such as “Under Pressure” by Queen and David Bowie, House of Pain’s “Jump Around”, and Aretha Franklin’s immortal “Respect”. I’m just upset that I didn’t get to meet Flash, as I narrowly missed out on shaking hands with the living legend as he left the stage.
After Flash’s seismic performance, I found myself feeling a bit famished, so I stopped to eat at one of the food trucks .As well as offering expansive selection of performers, the festival also boasts a wide variety of vendors. The food is nearly as diverse as the music. After passing multiple trucks that I could only assume made gross overuse of bacon and avocados, the Buddhalicious food truck managed to capture my attention. Their food was Southeast Asian-inspired, and most importantly, delicious. I had their Chicken Satay, which was curried chicken skewers served with coconut peanut sauce. Later on, I tried a middle-American classic, a deep-fried oreo. I barely expected to be able to eat one, let alone three. The battered outside was light and fluffy, but not too rich. The fried coating also made it look tantalizing. Overall, the selection of foods was immaculate with a great variety of tastes.
Other acts that I saw included Nathalie Pires and her performance of Portuguese folk music. The genre Pires sings is called Fado(meaning fate in Portuguese). Its origins can be traced to 1820s Portugal. Fado song has a range of subject matter, but must follow a specific structure. Pires’ performance carried all the passionate energy and deep emotion present in her Portuguese heritage. Her performance matched Flash’s raw energy with her subtle intimacy. I also managed to see the African Diaspora: Roots and Rhythms show. Their performance gave an in-depth look at the origins of the music made by early Black musicians. The audience members were given small looks at indigenous African music, creole music and early jazz music.
With events such as the National Folk Festival, it proves that Greensboro can be a vibrant and culturally stimulating place. The festival is guaranteed to be held in this city for another year and potentially more if enough funding is received. I think it’s safe to say that if there are more event like this in the city, UNCG, and North Carolina A&T won’t be known as “suitcase schools” for too much longer.