â€œUncanceled,â€ an adjective a reserved for stamps, happily may be used to describe the 12th annual Boston Folk Festival (BFF), an event happening this Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon at UMass-Boston. Though substantially smaller than previous incarnations, this yearâ€™s BFF, which had been previously announced as being scrubbed, will indeed go on, maintaining traditions established by sponsor WUMB 91.9-FM Folk Radio â€“including discounts for Dorchester residents.
â€œWe really didnâ€™t think there was going to be a Boston folk fest this year,â€ admitted BFF director and WUMB-FM General Manager Pat Monteith. The largely outdoor event in past years had been adversely impacted by fall rains, including hurricanes. â€œIn 11 years, the fest has never broken even, and we organizers thought, â€˜With the economy, we just canâ€™t do this.â€™ â€œ
But hundreds of folk fans, including the UMass chancellor, expressed regret at news that the BFF was being discontinued and finally persuaded Monteith to find another way. By bringing the whole event indoors, she preserved the festival, but in the process had to drastically reduce the number of seats available to less than a third of the lowest-ever previous gate.
The 2009 BFF will not feature artists with the national reputations of past headliners like Richie Havens, Emmylou Harris, Suzanne Vega, and Patty Larkin. Instead the Sunday noon-to-7ish festival proper will be largely a Northeast artist gathering, featuring the formerly Northampton-based Dar Williams.
Among other performers this year, embodying WUMBâ€™s â€œbig tentâ€ definition of folk, are Jill Sobule, Jake Armerding, Cindy Bullens, Michael Tarbox, the Boston T Party, and the Cape Cod band Tripping Lily.
Performances will be held in three venues at UMass: Lipke Auditorium in the Science Building; Snowden Auditorium, Wheatley Building; and Ryan Lounge, McCormack Building. The Ryan stage will feature locals chosen by the Boston Area Coffeehouse Association.
The Saturday evening finals of the Songwriting Contest continue to be a bright spot. More than 350 singer/songwriters submitted entries. One finalist,Conor Sheehan, will be coming over from County Clare.
The BFF website (bostonfolkfestival.org) has icons to click to sample the sounds of every performer and, of course, all details of the event. To get the special Dorchester discount, residents should contact the university Community Relations department at 617-287-5310, not the WUMB hotline