Photo by Chris Nelson

Five Must-See Acts at This Year’s Folklife Festival

Navigating the massive lineup can be tricky—here are some of our favorites.

At Folklife, the options can be overwhelming. With hundreds upon hundreds of musicians and performers at over 17 different venues, picking something to do among them can be surprisingly difficult. If you need some help navigating through the festival this Memorial Day weekend, let us help you out with our five must-sees:

May 26, Friday

The Black Tones If you’re hoping to catch some good local music at this year’s Folklife, The Black Tones will be playing two sets at two separate locations in one day. The band is composed of twin siblings Eva and Cedric Walker, who have family roots in New Orleans, roots that show in their music. Their take on punk is fused with the blues and a rhythmic sensibility that harkens back to soul. First show: KEXP Gathering Space, 472 1st Ave N, 1 p.m. Second show: Fountain Lawn Stage, 305 Harrison Street, 6:45 p.m.

Holy Pistola Formed in 2014, the 10 person Holy Pistola is a melting pot of style. Influenced by ‘70s soul and funk, classic hip-hop legends like Nas and The Roots, and contemporary rappers like Kendrick Lamar, they succeed in weaving all those threads together into something new and unique. With choir like vocals harmonizing alongside trumpet and sax, well delivered rap verses and funky bass lines, Holy Pistola is all about the crowd. Getting folks to move to the beat shouldn’t be difficult for a band that is capable of synchronizing so many genres so well. Mural Amphitheatre, 305 Harrison Street, 9:25 p.m.

May 27, Saturday

Youth Speaks Seattle Poetry Slam Team The five teenaged members of this poetry slam team were chosen for their skill and finesse during their performances in April at this year’s Grand Slam. Having made the team means they’ll be representing Seattle at the Brave New Voices competition, an international poetry slam held in San Francisco. Come show them some support before they head out to compete in July. Cornish Playhouse, 201 Mercer St, 1 p.m.

May 28, Sunday

Traditional Round Dance The Sioux nation, who made headlines late 2016 for their resistance against the DAPL pipeline in South Dakota, will be performing their traditional round dance at this year’s Folklife. This dance holds a very sacred place in the culture of the Sioux nation, as it represents the creator Wakan Tanka’s circle of life, from which all living things get their power. The dance also symbolizes friendship and the joining of people—to complete the circle represents the completion and balance of life. Space Needle Lawn, Broad Street, 7 p.m.

May 29, Monday

Queen of the Hill Seattle’s only all-female breakdancing competition brings the best local dancers from the Pacific Northwest to Folklife, all vying for the title of Queen of the Hill. The event will have a live DJ performance to complement the competition. The first dancer to get to seven points—allocated by the three judges, Kim Sato from Project Soul, Anna Banana from Massive Monkees, and Donnamation from UpJump—wins. Details of a celebratory dance party afterward will be available on the event’s facebook page. Mural Amphitheatre, 305 Harrison Street, 3:30 p.m.

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