The highly acclaimed two-day festival returns full throttle on Jan. 26-27 for the first time since the pre-pandemic days of 2020. Get details and a Q&A with performer Lizzie No.
SCROLL DOWN FOR INTERVIEW WITH FOLK FEST PERFORMER LIZIE NO
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Celebrating its 47th year, the Ann Arbor Folk Festival comes back next weekend as a full-throttled affair, boasting big names such as Emmylou Harris, Old Crow Medicine Show, Devon Gilfillian and regional heroes the Michigan Rattlers.
“This is our return to the full Folk Festival for the first time since 2020. We went virtual for one year, and we ended up having to cancel one year entirely,” says Barb Chaffer Authier, marketing director for The Ark, which hosts the festival as its biggest annual fundraiser.
“So last year, we came back with a kind of slightly condensed version with just one night at Hill Auditorium and one smaller night at The Ark itself. So this year is our first time back.”
The two-night festival will be hosted once again by singer-songwriter and actor Jeff Daniels at the 3,500-capacity Hill Auditorium on the University of Michigan campus.
Friday night’s lineup feature Old Crow Medicine Show, Devon Gilfillian, Bailen, Darren Kiely and Sons of Mystro. Saturday boasts performances by Harris, Michigan Rattlers, Steve Poltz, Lizzie No and The Sea The Sea.
“We bring a lot of artists that typically play listening rooms like The Ark as well as big-name headliners that people have heard about. We like to introduce some of those rising artists or under the radar artists,” says Authier.
“One of the major goals of the festival is to feed that kind of ecosystem of touring artists, and the artists that play The Ark and help them build their audience. Sometimes those artists turn around and they come back in a few years to be headliners.”
Local Spins caught up with one of those Saturday acts, Brooklyn-born and Nashville-based indie-folk artist Lizzie No, who released her acclaimed debut album in 2017 and is currently touring behind her latest release, “Halfsies.” Americana Highways described the new recording by the harpist and guitarist as “gorgeous,” noting “this latest quest definitely finds No leveling up.” Scroll down for a new music video.
Enrique Olmos: How’s your week going?
Lizzie No: My week is going really well. I just moved to Nashville on December 15. But then I went home to New York for Christmas. This is my first time living alone so I’m setting up my apartment and hanging stuff on the walls, and I love how intuitive it feels to decorate your own apartment.
Enrique: What are some differences and similarities between NYC and Nashville?
Lizzie No: New York can be lonely and isolating in ways that have to do with a city that big and expensive. So you have to pick and choose where you go. It’s such a massive city that I have band members that live in other boroughs. And it’s like, you can’t have a super relaxed rehearsal schedule. Things need to be a little bit more official. And, but the other thing I ended up finding, like, I think that New York is one of the most community oriented places you could choose to live. Just because people you really do have to know your neighbors if you want to make it. Yeah, notice people like you know, rich kids moved to New York City from the suburbs all the time. And then two years later, they go daily, because they hate it. And that’s what happens when you don’t connect with your neighbors. And you don’t take the geographical specificity seriously like I think if you really love New York, there are ways in which it loves you back.
Enrique: Favorite Meal?
Lizzie No: I guess I miss New York because I’ve been making my own bacon, egg and cheese at home, with cherry tomatoes on the side. I would say that I would eat that for breakfast lunch or dinner.
Enrique: I’m right there with you. Bagels in New York are just different.
Lizzie No: Yeah. They’re different. I haven’t bought a bagel in Tennessee yet.
Enrique: I’d be a little leery. What drew you to the harp as your instrument of choice?
Lizzie No: You know, it was the weirdest stringed instrument I could think of at a time when my parents wanted me to play a stringed instrument. So I picked it up in the fifth grade. I had been playing the violin since the age of three and I was pretty burnt out on that. I just wanted to try something different. My parents were very insistent on my sister and me playing instruments, especially stringed instruments, because of the ear training and the brain development stuff. I gave the harp a try and it immediately felt really natural to me. I loved the feel of it. I loved playing it.
Enrique: Was there ever a time when you considered quitting music?
Lizzie No: I mean, I consider quitting at least once a week.
Enrique: Like currently, still to this day?
Lizzie No: To this day. I haven’t seriously considered quitting music in a while. But I mean, many times throughout this career. It wasn’t even that I didn’t believe in myself. I’ve always known that I had something to say. I might not be this type of star, I might not be that type of person. But I have something to say. And I enjoy doing it.
Enrique: What’s something you’re learning about yourself?
Lizzie No: I feel like I’m definitely on an intellectual journey. Right now I’m learning what my brain can do. I started this research project. I’ll stay vague about it, but it’s a research project about Motown. And it’s been really fun after all of these years of touring and doing various jobs to kind of get back into academic mode. Trying to get those reps in of reading and taking notes and trying to synthesize information. I’m relearning how to do research, and how to follow my instincts.
Enrique: Women’s rights is something you’re very active and engaged in. Can you tell me a bit about your role within that movement?
Lizzie No: I’m the President of Abortion Care Tennessee. It’s an amazing organization. Our social media account called Thank God for Abortion educates people on how you can be a religious person of conscience, a religious person, a spiritual person and that abortion can be a part of that. There’s no contradiction between believing in God and believing abortion is important. But as far as the white evangelical American church goes, I think that it is one of the most guilty arms of white supremacy that we need to smash if we want to move forward.
VIDEO: Lizzie No, “The Heartbreak Store”
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