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Each year the Festival presents a special evening concert to honor both its co-founder Ralph Rinzler (1934-1994) and a key person with whom he collaborated. The 2012 Ralph Rinzler Memorial Concert paid tribute to folklorist, cultural worker, and activist Worth Long, whose work spans five decades and an incredible range. A friend and colleague of Rinzler, Long founded the Mississippi Delta Blues and Heritage Festival, curated multiple Smithsonian Folklife Festivals, and documented traditional arts and culture throughout the Southern United States. His accomplishments include a GRAMMY nomination (with Ralph Rinzler and Barry Lee Pearson) for Roots of Rhythm and Blues: The Robert Johnson Era (1993), a recording with Columbia Records that grew out of a Smithsonian project of the same name, and a Peabody Award for Will the Circle Be Unbroken?, a radio history of the Civil Rights Movement in five Southern cities. He has been recognized by the National Black Arts Festival's Living Legends Award and the Smithsonian's Lifetime Achievement Award.
The Rinzler Memorial concert featured performances by the Sweet Heaven Kings led by Norvus Butch Miller, the premier Washington D.C. shout band, based in the United House of Prayer in Anacostia, and the Rising Star Fife and Drum band from Northern Mississippi led by Sharde Thomas, the granddaughter of NEA National Heritage Fellow Othar Turner.
The 2012 Festival also featured several other special evening concerts:
On Wednesday, June 27, the National Museum of African American History and Culture presented Bring Back the Funk featuring George Clinton, Ivan Neville and Dumpstaphunk, and Meshell Ndegeocello. These legendary and accomplished artists showed how funk music has influenced hip-hop, soul, and rock. In between sets, popular radio personality Tom Joyner spoke to performers and museum experts to get their impressions on funk and the impact it has had on music.
On Thursday, June 28, and Thursday, July 5, Azerbaijani Music was featured with Imamyar Hasanov and Pezhham Akhavass. Hasanov played the kamancha, a stringed instrument known for its tender and melodic sounds, and Akhavass played percussion in this evening of traditional mugham improvisations and love songs from Azerbaijan.
On Friday, June 29, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings presented Quetzal and La Sardina de Naiguatá, two Smithsonian Folkways recording artists who had just released new albums. Quetzal combines shades of East L.A.'s soundscape, traditional son jarocho of Veracruz, salsa, R&B, and more to express the political and social struggle for self-determination and self-representation. La Sardina de Naiguatá fuses traditional Venezuelan parranda music with diverse and progressive instrumentation in a way that has revolutionized and reinvigorated the genre.
On Friday, June 29, The Music of Monticello and the Blue Ridge was presented in partnership with the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The Ebony Hillbillies, banjo and guitar duo Sparky and Rhonda Rucker, and guitarist Amythyst Kiah performed the African American folk music tradition of the Virginia Piedmont. Other program highlights include calling by Herschel Tolson and square dancing by the South Side Squares. A demonstration also took place earlier in the day at the Warner Bros Theater, National Museum of American History.
On Sunday, July 1, Hungarian Roma Music with Kálmán Balogh was featured. The Kálmán Balogh Gypsy Cimbalom Band joined the Karavan Familia to showcase the wide stylistic varieties and distinctive virtuoso sounds of Roma musical traditions from Hungary and Central Europe.
On Friday, July 6, Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano of Los Angeles joined University of Texas-Pan American's Mariachi Aztlán for a joint performance, featuring a special return of Nati Cano on violin.
Bring Back the Funk and The Music of Monticello and the Blue Ridge were produced in partnership with the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. The two Azerbaijani Music concerts were produced in collaboration with the Karabakh Foundation. The Hungarian Roma Music concert was produced with the support of the Trust for Mutual Understanding, Embassy of Hungary in the United States, and the Balassi Institute - Hungarian Cultural Center, New York. Federal support for the La Sardina de Naiguatá and Quetzal and Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano concerts came from the Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Latino Center. Chevron Corporation, the Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in the United States, Venezuelan Sounds Foundation, and Centro de la Diversidad Cultural (Caracas, Venezuela) were supporters of the La Sardina de Naiguatá concert.
Ralph Rinzler Memorial Concert
William W. Long, 1986-, Atlanta, Georgia
Worth W. Long, 1936-, Atlanta, Georgia
Ada T. Thomas, 1956-, Sardis, Mississippi
Olivia Shardé Thomas, 1990-, Sardis, Mississippi
Aubrey Turner, 1982-, Senatobia, Mississippi
United House of Prayer, Washington, D.C.
Michael Wooten, Jr., 1994-, Senatobia, Mississippi
Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano -- Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati CanoSergio Alonso, 1975-, harp, Sylmar, CaliforniaNatividad Cano, 1933-, Fillmore, CaliforniaJimmy Cuéllar, 1982-, violin, Los Angeles, CaliforniaRaúl Cuéllar, 1976-, violin, Los Angeles, CaliforniaJesús Guzmán, 1964-, violin, Pico Rivera, CaliforniaIsmael Hernández, 1969-, violin, Hacienda Heights, CaliforniaJuan Jiménez, 1962-, guitarrón, Pomona, CaliforniaGermán López, 1972-, vihuela, La Puente, CaliforniaJavier Rodríguez, 1969-, trumpet, Los Angeles, California
Quetzal -- QuetzalAlexander Chadsey, 1980-, keyboards, Seattle, WashingtonTylana Renga Enomoto, 1977-, violin, Los Angeles, CaliforniaJosé Quetzal Flores, 1973-, jarana, requinto, guitar, Pasadena, CaliforniaMartha González, 1972-, vocals, Pasadena, CaliforniaChristian Camilo Moreno, 1985-, Los Angeles, CaliforniaJuan Pérez, 1975-, bass, Los Angeles, California
La Sardina de Naiguatá -- La Sardina de NaiguatáPatricia Abdelnour, 1976-, Caracas, VenezuelaFélix Orlando Corro Cáceres, 1950-, trombone, Miranda, VenezuelaJosé Ramón Corro Domínguez, 1954-, bass, Vargas, VenezuelaRicardo Benito Díaz, 1933-, trumpet, Vargas, VenezuelaReinaldo José Díaz Iriarte, 1990-, Vargas, VenezuelaBetty Yoanna Díaz Monrroy, 1970-, vocals, Vargas, VenezuelaKatiuska Judith Díaz Monrroy, 1969-, vocals, Vargas, VenezuelaKeila Ann Marie Díaz Monrroy, 1976-, vocals, Vargas, VenezuelaElvis José Hernández Sandoval, 1982-, redoblante, Vargas, VenezuelaEfraín Adrián Herrera Franco, 1979-, videographer, Vargas, VenezuelaCarlos Alfredo Iriarte Rivas, 1993-, trombone, Vargas, VenezuelaArturo Candelario Iriarte Sánchez, 1961-, bombo, Vargas, VenezuelaAdolfo José Jiménez Cardona, 1952-, bongo, Vargas, VenezuelaLeonardo José Pereira Díaz, 1979-, tambora, Vargas, VenezuelaJohnny Antonio Rodríguez Martínez, 1953-, piano, Vargas, VenezuelaMiguel Richard Romero Rodríguez, 1965-, tumbadora, Vargas, VenezuelaRoberto Antonio Verde Rojas, 1949-, manager, Municipio Tubores, Nueva España, VenezuelaNelva Garminia Yriarte Blanco, 1964-, vocals, Vargas, VenezuelaMariani Coromoto Yriarte Verde, 1989-, vocals, Vargas, VenezuelaJoel Oswaldo Yzaguirre Yriarte, 1964-, trombone, Vargas, Venezuela
István Nagy, vocals, guitar, -- tamboura -- , harmonica
Ilona Farkas, vocals, dancing
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Smithsonian Folklife Festival records: 2012 Smithsonian Folklife Festival, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections, Smithsonian Institution.