Monsters of Folk: The New Los Angeles Folk Festival

Monsters of Folk: The New Los Angeles Folk Festival

Daiana Feuer, who writes for LA Record (and Heard Mentality), put up the New Los Angeles Folk Festival this summer. (If you recall, Yellow Red Sparks was a featured performer.) This month, the festival is hosting a night of murder ballads at the Echoplex on Oct. 26. Feuer talks about the origins of the folk festival, and why they're focusing on murder ballads.

Here's how Feuer describes the night: "Murder ballads and songs of despair lie at the foundation of American folk music--just as prominently as gospel and patriotic songs...murder ballads give voice to our fears, our innate violence, and to our terrible inclinations, while also capturing a period in history rife with these extremes. Join us in a night of celebrating this accidental tradition."

OC Weekly: Why'd you put up the New Los Angeles Folk Festival?

Daiana Feuer: The New Los Angeles Folk Festival materialized during the first conversation I had with James Cartwright. He has a folk label called Trailer Fire Records. We were familiar with different types of folk music happening in Los Angeles and felt a mutual calling to try and unify the scene and make it stronger. We wanted to bridge the different types of folk music and present it in a cool way. I want to put on very unique events that feel a little bit magical or out of this world. That's what my experience of folk music in Southern California has been. Bands like Spindrift, Frank Fairfield, and Amanda Jo Williams grabbed my attention.

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Do you think SoCal needs more folk music on the radar?

Southern California has plenty of folk music. You might be hearing folk music and not even know it. It might come out of a banjo or it might even peek out of a synth some time. Overall, the scene could use some unity because it exists in all these separate self-sustained communities. We have been excited to see bands that met at our summer festival start playing shows together and many who participated have gotten more attention from press and bookers. Quite a few of the more successful bands coming out of the area lately have a folky bent. There's going to be more of that.

Which bands are you inviting to the Halloween show?

We'll be announcing them soon but a few of them may have been mentioned here.

How are you getting the bigger bands to be part of the event?

We're catching some people who will be around on tour to perform a song or two, and others have written us a note saying they'd like to play. Murder ballads are a fascinating part of music history so we want the lineup to surprise the audience a little. It'll be a mix of bands ranging between very folk and kinda folk to folk just for today.

Are you thinking of just hosting holiday events? What's your goal for the folk fest eventually?

We're into establishing new traditions. A yearly murder ballads event around Halloween is one of them and the summer folk festival is another. This being our first year, we're kind of letting the seasons inspire us, but not necessarily in conjunction with holidays. We do like themes though, and charity. Our summer festival donated proceeds to the Environmental Defense Fund's oil crisis relief efforts. In the Spring we'll do something to raise awareness about how the mining industry should stop blowing the tops off of the Appalachian mountains. We've also been asked to curate stages at some festivals and events in the coming months, and may even get to take our noise outside of California's borders.

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