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Big Muddy Folk Festival to celebrate historic venue’s 150th year

Bluegrass, American and Celtic folk songs will be performed.
Tuesday, April 10, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 8:04 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

Growing up around music — particularly bluegrass — influenced Elvin Martin’s children to learn the banjo, guitar, bass and fiddle on their own. Now in their teens, the four kids make up two-thirds of the Martin Family Band, an increasingly popular bluegrass act in mid-Missouri.

The band will be a highlight at the three-day Big Muddy Folk Festival, which is taking place this weekend in Boonville.

If You Go

What: Big Muddy Folk Festival Some events: The Juggernaut Jug Band, featuring the washboard, blues harp, washtub bass and a plethora of other instruments; Lil' Rev, voted Wisconsin's best folk singer in 2004; Appalachian clogging and French Canadian dance and barbecue. Where: Thespian Hall, 522 Main St., Boonville When: Friday to Sunday


The festival, currently in its 16th year, will celebrate Thespian Hall’s 150th year. This performance locale was one of the reasons for the festival’s start and is a special part of Boonville.

“It has a kind of intimacy that is really helpful for folk music,” said festival organizer Dave Para.

Para said that, with its authenticity and beauty, the 600-seat Thespian Hall is a perfect setting for the traditional music that takes place at Big Muddy. Many traditional folk songs were originally performed within peoples’ homes, and “the Hall is the closest to a living room setting,” Para said.

Other performances will include the acoustic music of David Wilson and Dudley Murphy, the Juggernaut Jug Band, the old-time music of Lil’ Rev and the traditional American and Celtic folk music of Aubrey Atwater and Elwood Donnelly.

A new feature to this year’s festival combines several of the artists from the weekend’s events and local Boonville choirs for a gospel concert on Sunday.

On top of the folk performances, a number of workshops will take place. These include a guitar session and lessons on how to play the harmonica, the ukulele or a rubber chicken.

“I’m really excited about all the events — the dance on Friday night, the artisans and the barbecue,” said Deborah Hombs, office administrator at Friends of Historic Boonville.

As a folk artist, Para looks forward to the festival as a whole.

“I can’t pick one act over another,” he said.


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