The Maypole Folk Festival builds a big tent | Gossip Wolf | Chicago Reader

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The Maypole Folk Festival builds a big tent

Plus: The Goldstars lead a crowded tribute to R&B icon Andre Williams, Chicago producer Please inaugurates his new label with a Teklife EP, and more.

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The Western Elstons, pictured here at Simon’s Tavern, play Saturday at the daylong Maypole Folk Festival. - REBECCA CIPRUS
  • Rebecca Ciprus
  • The Western Elstons, pictured here at Simon’s Tavern, play Saturday at the daylong Maypole Folk Festival.

If you're like Gossip Wolf, the words "folk festival" conjure up earnest imitators of Joan Baez and pre-electric Dylan. Those artists are cool—but "I Gave My Love a Cherry" is for smashing guitars like John Belushi in Animal House. The Maypole Folk Festival solves this problem by booking diverse bills with the likes of Chicago Afrobeat Project, the Golden Horse Ranch Band, and the Golosa Russian Choir. The fourth annual fest, at the Empty Bottle all day Saturday, April 27, includes folkie Sam Amidon, the honky-tonkin' Western Elstons, Rami Gabriel's Middle Eastern ensemble Arabic Xhaman, and the Girls of the Golden West—aka Marydee Reynolds, Amalea Tshilds, and Elyse Bergman re-creating the music Reynolds's great-aunt played in the 1930s.

When Chicago R&B legend Andre Williams died in March, Reader contributor James Porter eulogized him as an "erupting volcano"—Williams filled his decades-long comeback with fiery performances and memorable stage banter. On Sunday, April 28, the Hideout hosts a tribute to Williams with his longtime backing band the Goldstars and guests such as Renaldo Domino, Bailey Dee, and members of Poi Dog Pondering and the Mekons. The show benefits Englewood nonprofit I Grow Chicago, and Porter will spin a DJ set.

This month Chicago dance producer Please launched his Issa Party label with Catch Me, an EP by Teklife's Nate Boylan. The footwork master applies his tense but celebratory style to other club sounds on its four songs—the effervescent title track belongs on everybody's summer house mix. The EP is available only via Bandcamp.

Time flies—it's been ten years since Chicago rap blog Ruby Hornet launched its Closed Sessions label with Curren$y's "Rapper Weed." On Friday, April 26, Closed Sessions marks that milestone with the first vinyl release of its 2010 compilation Closed Sessions Vol. 1—a time capsule of blog-era rap and late-aughts Chicago hip-hop.  v

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