For the past dozen years, Virginia’s Creative Cauldron has launched every calendar year by presenting “Passport to the World of Music,” a concert series with a crop of mostly local artists celebrating the music and dance of cultures around the world.
Curated by Lynn Veronneau and Ken Avis of the Wammie-winning jazz samba group Veronneau, the event offers what is promoted as an opportunity “to tour the world without ever leaving Falls Church,” with the lineup offering a diverse array of musical excursions, from North American roots music to the rhythms of Latin America, traditional folk music from Europe and Asia to Broadway showtunes, blues from the Deep South to jazz from the Tropics.
Starting this weekend to the first weekend of February, the festival is “one of the most diverse gatherings of musicians” since the series began.
Each weekend is built around a designated theme and offers us some of the finest instrumentalists and vocalists with a passion for sharing their musical traditions and styles,” says Avis in an official release.
Under the thematic banner “Traditions Old and New,” the festival kicks off this weekend with the local Celtic musicians and dancers in Sean Heely’s Big Celtic Show on Friday, Jan. 6, followed the next night by Chao Tan‘s “Unheard Sounds,” a program from the acclaimed Chinese dulcimer musician reflecting on her self-expression as an immigrant artist.
Shenandoah Run, the regional eight-piece folk powerhouse, will perform a wide selection of Americana from the ’60s and ’70s during the afternoon concert on Sunday, Jan.8, while Griefcat, a local songwriting duo whose songs veer from Flight of the Conchords-inspired musical comedy to Dolly Parton-esque sincere, heartfelt country-pop tunes, takes the evening slot.
“DC Women in Music” is the theme next weekend, launching with a performance by area women jazz musicians designed as a prelude to this year’s Washington Women in Jazz festival (1/13), then a concert focused on “roots music with fabulous vocal harmonies and girl chat,” courtesy of The Honey Larks featuring Carly Harvey, Jenny Langer, and Holly Montgomery (1/14). A special Sunday afternoon all-women spinoff of the local monthly Songwriters Showcase features Annett Wasilik, Kipyn Martin, Jillian Matundan, and Heather Aubrey Lloyd, followed in the evening with the Swing Sisters, a quartet consisting of Grammy-winning folk string players Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer, gypsy jazz violinist Nataly Merezhuk, and upright bassist Zoe Jorgenson (1/15).
The third week offers a “Latin American Fiesta,” including performances by local band Trio Caliente, characterized as delivering “a blend of Flamenco, pop, and Latin dance music” inspired by everything from Rodrigo y Gabriela and the Gypsy Kings to Celia Cruz and Gloria Estefan (1/20), and Brazilian vocalist Rose Moraes with “Jobim and Beyond,” a program of classic samba and bossa nova (1/21).
Sunday brings Raymi, a band led by Juan Cayrampoma focused on the haunting and mystical music from the Andes, and QuinTango, a quintet of top-notch female chamber musicians and a crackerjack bandoneon player performing classical Argentinian tango “like you’ve never imagined it” (1/22).
Under a “Great Guitars” theme comes a range of diverse string styles during the festival’s fourth week, starting with the Bobby Thompson Acoustic Blues Trio, recipients of the 2019 Wammie Award for Best Blues Album (1/27), Hot Club of Baltimore with Alexis Tantau, a nationally touring ensemble performing classic French Gypsy jazz (1/28), followed by two “DC Guitar Greats” programs, from the assembled trio of jazz guitarists Steve Abshire, Steve Herberman, and Jan Knudson, to the pairing of Anthony Pirog and Janel Leppin, two experimental jazz and rock composers (1/29).
The festival closes with a two-night “Big Bang Finale,” first with “Munit Mesfin Sings Roberta Flack,” a celebration of Flack by the Ethiopian jazz vocalist (2/3), and ending with the festival curators performing in their jazz/samba band Veronneau (2/4).
Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., and Sundays at 2 or 3:30 p.m., and 7 or 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are $25 to $30, or $15 for a performance live stream.
Creative Cauldron is at 410 South Maple Ave., Retail 116, Falls Church. Visit www.creativecauldron.org or call 703-436-9948.
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