American Folk Festival announces first round of performers for 2014 event

The American Folk Festival on the Bangor Waterfront announced on Tuesday the first five acts set for this year’s event, scheduled for Friday through Sunday, Aug 22-24, 2014.

The five acts include two artists who have visit a folk festival in Bangor before, as well as three newcomers.

“We are seeing the first elements of a dynamic musical lineup taking shape,” said Heather McCarthy, executive director of the American Folk Festival. “This initial lineup has elements that allow us to return to the earliest days of the festival, while also welcoming some new performers to Bangor. We are excited about what these first few artists represent and we look forward to complementing them with more performer announcements in the weeks ahead.”

Bill Kirchen

Bill Kirchen

Bill Kirchen, who played the very first performance at the very first National Folk Festival back in 2002, is set to return to Bangor for the 2014 festival. He is a Grammy nominated guitarist, singer, and songwriter who celebrates an American musical tradition where country and rock go back to their roots in blues, bluegrass, honky-tonk and Western swing.

Also returning to Bangor is Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys, a Cajun group that performed at the first American Folk Festival on the Bangor Waterfront in 2005. Steve Riley is a Grammy award winning musician who is often described as a master of the Cajun accordion.

For the newcomers, one of the groups plays the eternally popular Folk Festival staple genre: Quebecois music. Bon Débarras is a Quebecois trio hailing from Montreal whose name translates to “good riddance.” Bon Débarras incorporate accordion, banjo, guitars, harmonicas, mandolin, washboard, and foot and body percussion into their array of musical talent.

Adonis Puentes and the Voice of Cuba Orchestra is led by Cuban-Canadian singer-songwriter Adonis Puentes. Puentes began playing the guitar at age six and writing his own songs by the age of 14. His salsa music is accentuated by a horn section and accompaniment by piano and guitar.

west african highlife

The West African High Life Band

The West African Highlife Band incorporates many guitars, which slowly lead the percussion, horns, and vocals into song. Originating in Ghana in the 1930s, highlife is best described by Bab Ken Okulolo, leader of the group and a bassist and bandleader who has played with legends like Fela Kuti and King Sunny Ade: “In Africa, music is created to help people rise above the pain and suffering of daily life, to transcend all evils with the joy of music… This is music that connects body, mind, and spirit. It is happy music.”

For more information and to check back on more performer announcements in the coming months, visit

Emily Burnham

About Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native, UMaine graduate, proud Bangorian and a writer and editor for Bangor Metro Magazine, the Weekly and the Bangor Daily News, where she's worked since 2004. She reports on everything from local bands to local food to all the cool things going on in the Greater Bangor area. In her quest for stories, she's seen countless concerts and plays, been lobster fishing, interviewed celebrities, hung out with water buffalo and played in a ukulele orchestra. She's interested in everything that happens in Maine. Albums for review are accepted digitally only; please no CDs.