Old Songs, New Faces

Get ready to tune your guitar and warm up your voice because the Old Songs Festival of Traditional Music and Dance is coming to town this weekend.

Now in its 27th year, the event will showcase performers of folk, Celtic and world music from as far away as Mali and as near as Saratoga Springs.

It's not your normal festival in that it is not a one-day happening, said Andy Spence, executive director of Old Songs, Inc., the Voorheesville-based nonprofit group that organizes the event.

In addition to concerts on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Altamont Fairgrounds, visitors will have a chance to participate in workshops, take classes and listen to musicians performing in smaller groups.

"We feel a lot of the magic of the festival happens when [performers] interact with each other over the weekend," said Roger Mock, administrative assistant at Old Songs who has attended more than 20 Old Songs festivals.

In fact, it is this opportunity to sing and play with other musicians and to engage the audience that attracts many of the festival's performers.

Peter Davis, who has played at the festival eight times, said he enjoys the "more hands-on workshops and traditional music at this festival."

Davis, of Saratoga Springs, will go on stage with his band The Whippersnappers, playing the guitar, clarinet and piano.

"We need to preserve our traditions and celebrate them and keep them going," he said.

Other musicians to look for include The Arrogant Worms, a musical comedy group from Canada, Mamadou Diabate, a storyteller and kora player from Mali, and the Jeremy Kittel Acoustic Trio from Michigan.

But perhaps the most anticipated act will be that of the Magnolia Sisters from Louisiana, whom Spence calls a "big deal this year." The group will offer authentic Cajun music, a genre Spence said is hard to come by these days, especially among female performers.

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