Tasty Licks: Virginia’s food traditions at the 2016 Richmond Folk Festival

RichmondFolkFestivalLogo-wDate-2016The Virginia Folklife Program at the 2016 Richmond Folk Festival will present “Tasty Licks: Virginia’s food traditions.” This free festival takes place October 7 through 9 in downtown Richmond along the banks of the James River.

The popular expression “you are what you eat” is often meant to be interpreted literally, but this saying holds true in the greater cultural sense as well, as it is often through our food that we consciously and unconsciously express to ourselves and others our most deeply felt sense of who we are. The foods we eat not only sustain our bodies, but our communities and cultures as well. In this way our foodways operate much like our other forms of folklife—our music, our stories, our crafts, and our celebrations and rituals. Much like these other cultural traditions, the foods we prepare and eat connect us with our own sense of communal belonging and identity, be it ethnic, regional, occupational, or familial. Our food has forever been central to our most cherished occasions, and our dinner tables remain the sites of our deepest connections, communication, and fellowship. Foodways also play a critical role in how we experience ways of life different from our own. Virginia, like much of America, is a remarkably diverse place, and it often is through the sharing of foods that we, in the most tactile sense, get a taste of each other’s culture.

The 2016 Virginia Folklife Area will showcase the diverse foodways of Virginia, and present some of its greatest practitioners. Our focus will not be on professional chefs and restaurateurs, but rather those “home cooks” who are revered in their own communities. Throughout the weekend, we will be hosting cooking demonstrations that speak to the remarkable diversity of the Commonwealth, showcasing foodways both old and new to Virginia—from fried apple pies of the Blue Ridge to crab soup of Tangier Island, from Mexican barbacoa to Filipino chicken adobo. Audiences will get to learn family-held recipes, share in closely-guarded kitchen secrets, and yes, taste the results. The cooking demonstrators are:

Mary Stuart Parks, Chuck and Robin Pruitt (photo by Peter Hedlund)
Mary Stuart Parks, Chuck and Robin Pruitt (photo by Peter Hedlund)

Mary Stuart and Andy Parks and Chuck and Robin Pruitt – Tangier Island Cooking (Tangier, Virginia)
Tangier, Virginia, a small island of just more than one square mile in the Chesapeake Bay, is one of the most unique communities in the country. Once a summer refuge for the Pocomoke Indians, humans have long been drawn to Tangier and the neighboring islands for their natural beauty and rich bounties of the Bay, particularly soft crabs and oysters. Crabbing and oyster fishing have fed and sustained the island’s residents for centuries, and still remain a critically important occupation and way of life. MORE»

 

Luz Lopez (photo by Peter Hedlund)
Luz Lopez (photo by Peter Hedlund)

Luz Lopez – Mexican Cooking Traditions (Earlysville, Virginia)
Luz Maria Lopez was born in the small town of Morocoy, in the state of Quintana Roo on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula after her parents moved there from Michoacán. Her mother was a prodigious cook, and Luz grew up learning the many traditional dishes of the region, including cochinita pibil, tamales de hoja de platano, and panuchos, as well as dishes from her mother’s home state of Michoacán in the west of Mexico. MORE»

 

 

Beyhan Cagri Trock
Beyhan Cagri Trock

Beyhan Cagri Trock – Sephardic Cooking Traditions (Bethesda, Maryland)
The Washington, D.C., area is home to a small but vibrant Sephardic community of about 12,000 people. Like other Sephardic Jews, they are descended from Jews expelled from Spain in 1492, and their culture incorporates Spanish, North African, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern customs. The D.C. area’s first Sephardic Jews arrived from Turkey and Greece in 1914. A larger wave immigrated in the years immediately following World War II. Among these was National Heritage Fellow Flory Jagoda, who brought with her generations’ worth of Sephardi songs as well as the cultural traditions of the Balkan region. She not only maintains a unique linguistic and musical heritage, she builds on it by composing and arranging new Sephardic songs. Sephardic tradition is more than music, however. The Sephardi maintain a longstanding tradition of distinctive foodways. MORE»

 

 

Clementine Macon Boyd and Deborah Pratt (photo by Jon Lohman)
Clementine Macon Boyd and Deborah Pratt (photo by Jon Lohman)

Deborah Pratt and Clementine Macon Boyd – Oyster Shucking (Jamaica and Urbanna, Virginia)
For communities on Virginia’s Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula, the oyster fishery was perhaps the largest and most influential industry from the mid-1800s to the mid-1900s. Men and women employed by the industry worked a variety of jobs, from boat cook, captain, and crew, to shore-based scow gangs and shuckers. Shucking in particular provided many employment opportunities for African Americans throughout the Chesapeake region. MORE»

 

Red, White, and Blue Stew Crew (photo courtesy Randy Bush)
Red, White, and Blue Stew Crew (photo courtesy Randy Bush)

Randy Bush and the Red, White, and Blue Stew Crew – Brunswick stew (Richmond, Virginia)
What began, according to area legend, as a communal meal prepared for a hunting expedition on the banks of the Nottoway River in 1828, the cooking of Brunswick Stew has evolved into a time-honored tradition—a staple at community gatherings, a source of regional pride, the focus of spirited competition, and a true Virginia culinary art. MORE»

 

 

Annie James and Frances Davis (photo by Peter Hedlund)
Annie James and Frances Davis (photo by Peter Hedlund)

Frances Davis – fried dried apple pies (Rocky Mount, Virginia)
Known as “Fried Apple Pies,” “Dried Apple Pies,” or even “Fried Dried Apple Pies,” these locally made pies seem to have a ubiquitous presence throughout Southwest Virginia, appearing on the counters and shelves of country stores, gas stations, and community festivals. The defining characteristic of the pie is its intense flavor, accomplished through the use of dried apples rehydrated through a long simmering process with brown sugar. MORE»

 

 

Clyde Jenkins (photo by Pat Jarrett)
Clyde Jenkins (photo by Pat Jarrett)

Clyde Jenkins – heirloom apples and apple grafting (Stanley, Virginia)
Before the last half of the twentieth century, a wide variety of apples were grown regionally, with apple types grown according to the varying soil, weather, and habitat conditions across the United States. The advent of a national market, driven by the development and consolidation of supermarket chains, has reduced the number of available apple varieties to a dozen or so that keep well, respond well to extensive spray programs, and have an attractive and uniform outer skin. Much of the flavor that our ancestors cherished in apples has been sacrificed. The old regional varieties have become difficult, if not impossible, to find—and some have disappeared entirely. Clyde Jenkins grew up in an old homestead in the Shenandoah Mountains in Page County. MORE»

 

 

 

Chef Ida MaMusu (photo by Sara Wood, Southern Foodways Alliance)
Chef Ida MaMusu (photo by Sara Wood, Southern Foodways Alliance)

Chef Ida MaMusu – African Vegetarian Traditions (Richmond, Virginia)
In 1980, Ida MaMusu fled war-torn Monrovia, Liberia, and came to the United States. Her grandmother, Ida Williams, was originally from Reston, Virginia, and went to Liberia as part of the American Colonization Society, a movement sending freed slaves back to Africa. Under her grandmother’s tutelage, Ida learned the art of cooking, sometimes without even going near the kitchen. MORE»

 

 

Barb Gillespie (photo by Pat Jarrett)
Barb Gillespie (photo by Pat Jarrett)

Barb Gillespie – Bread Baker (Floyd, Virginia)
The so-called “Republic of Floyd” is a welcoming and inspiring place for some of Virginia’s most visionary artists, but few embody the creative passion of longtime resident Barb Gillespie. For more than a decade, Barb served as “Director of Ambiance” at FloydFest, employing her skills of creative landscaping, set design, and lighting. It’s a title we have been honored to bestow upon her at the Virginia Folklife Area at the Richmond Folk Festival. Barb is alternately a sculptor, a batik artist, a painter, a belly dancer, a massage therapist, a singer-songwriter, and a gifted baker. She first learned the art of baking from her parents who participated in the natural foods movement of the early 1970s. She has been baking bread in Floyd since 2001, supplying local restaurants and farmers markets throughout Southwest Virginia. She opened the much loved “Grateful Bread Bakery” in 2011, showcasing her old-world-style sour bread and other baked masterpieces of her imagination. MORE»

 

 

Filipino feast (photo courtesy Janet Rickett)
Filipino feast (photo courtesy Janet Rickett)

Philippine Cultural Center – Filipino food and dances (Virginia Beach, Virginia)
Approximately one million Filipinos have immigrated to the United States since the 1950s, initially to the west coast. In 2010, more than 90,000 Filipinos were living in Virginia, some 40,000 of them in Hampton Roads, with other strong communities in metro-Richmond and Northern Virginia. Today, Filipinos are the second-largest Asian population in the Commonwealth; and Hampton Roads is home to the largest Filipino community east of the Mississippi. The Virginia Folklife Area will showcase numerous Filipino traditions including dance, costumes, and food. MORE»

 

 

 

And what goes better with a great meal than incredible music? The Virginia Folklife Stage will be serving up our usual buffet of musical delicacies and “tasty licks,” much of which will draw from the same communities as our foodway demonstrations—“perfect pairings” if you will, providing a feast for all the senses. Virginia Folklife Stage performers will be:

Car Harvey Armstrong (center, seated) and family
Cora Harvey Armstrong (center, seated) and family

Cora Harvey Armstrong – gospel (Richmond, Virginia)
Faith is at the center of Cora Harvey Armstrong’s 50-year career in gospel music. She was born and raised in the tiny Newtown community of King and Queen County, Virginia. Her family members were dedicated church attendees, and deeply spiritual. Armstrong remembers being enthralled by church music at an early age; she surprised her family and congregation with her ability to play piano by ear at the age of five. Her parents decided to enroll her in piano lessons, where she learned to read music. She soon joined her sisters Clara and Virginia with their mother for the family’s singing group, The Harvey Family. MORE»

 

 

Dori Freeman
Dori Freeman

Dori Freeman – Appalachian singer-songwriter (Galax, Virginia)
Dori Freeman is a remarkably gifted 24-year-old singer and songwriter from Grayson County, on the musically-rich Crooked Road. Dori comes from a family rooted in art and tradition. Her grandfather on her mom’s side, Willard Gayheart, is a locally-loved artist and guitar player; her paternal grandfather was an award winning flat-foot dancer and musician, and her father, Scott Freeman, is a multi-instrumentalist and music instructor. While her style is eclectic, the influence of her Appalachian upbringing is at the core of her music—heard especially in the lulling mountain drawl of her voice. She sings with striking clarity, delivering each song carefully and earnestly. She released her self-titled album in February to much critical acclaim. Rolling Stone named her one of “10 new country artists you need to know” and in July called her self-titled album one of the “25 best country and Americana albums of 2016 so far.” MORE»

 

 

Shadowgrass
Shadowgrass

Shadowgrass – bluegrass (Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and North Carolina)
Traditional music styles are sometimes lost on young audiences, but this has certainly not been true of bluegrass and old time music, where the youngest players are now performing with unprecedented artistry. Participation in youth instrument contests across southern Appalachia is at an all-time high, and young players are making the grownups pretty nervous in the adult categories as well. Last summer, then 11-year-old Presley Barker won the adult guitar competition at the annual Galax Old Time Fiddlers’ Convention. Presley has joined forces with four other young local musicians to form Shadowgrass, one of the most thrilling bluegrass bands to emerge in recent memory. MORE»

 

Sherman Holmes (photo by Pat Jarrett/Virginia Folklife Program)
Sherman Holmes (photo by Pat Jarrett/Virginia Folklife Program)

Sherman Holmes – soul and gospel (Saluda, Virginia)
The year 2015 marked the end of an amazing journey for the Holmes Brothers, a group with humble beginnings on Virginia’s Middle Peninsula who performed a joyous and moving blend of blues, gospel, soul, rhythm and blues, rock ‘n’ roll, and country for more than 50 years. Sadly, 2015 saw the passing of both Wendell Holmes and Popsy Dixon, ending the Holmes Brothers’ remarkable run. Despite these devastating losses, Sherman has remained dedicated to carrying on his musical career, collaborating with a range of blues artists, and forming the Sherman Holmes Project with Brooks Long and harmonica legend Phil Wiggins. MORE»

 

Unique Sound of the Mountains: Larry Sigmon and Martha Spencer
Unique Sound of the Mountains: Larry Sigmon and Martha Spencer

Unique Sound of the Mountains – Larry Sigmon and Martha Spencer (Callaway and Whitetop, Virginia)
Larry Sigmon was born in Callaway, Virginia, in 1947. His father, Lewis Eldridge Sigmon, was a locally beloved banjo and fiddle player. Larry taught himself harmonica as a child, and then moved to guitar, learning to play by backing up his father. When he took up the banjo at fifteen, it became his main instrument, and he developed a signature hard-driving, rhythmic style. Since the passing of his longtime performing partner Barbara Poole in 2008, Larry Sigmon had been performing rarely until old-time musician and advocate Martha Spencer arrived to interview him for her online documentary project, Mountain Music Magazine. Martha encouraged Larry to play some tunes, joining him on bass and playing Barbara’s signature spirited double-slap style. The two took to each other immediately, and the “Unique Sound” was reborn. MORE»

 

The Legendary Ingramettes (photo by Pat Jarrett/Virginia Folklife Program)
The Legendary Ingramettes (photo by Pat Jarrett/Virginia Folklife Program)

The Legendary Ingramettes – gospel (Richmond, Virginia)
For more than five decades, Evangelist Maggie Ingram & the Ingramettes brought their music and ministry to congregations in the Tidewater and Piedmont. For evangelist “Mama” Maggie Ingram, who sadly passed away on June 23, 2015, music was always a family affair, and three generations were represented in the group. Their commanding, spirit-filled performances demonstrated the extraordinary depth of talent in American gospel music. The group is one of Virginia’s premier gospel ensembles. The family continues on spreading Maggie’s joy, ministry, and music. Now led by Maggie’s daughter Reverend Almeta Ingram-Miller and her granddaughter Cheryl Maroney Beaver, we simply would not have a year on the Virginia Folklife Stage without a performance by the Ingramettes. MORE»

 

David and Mason Via (photo by Pat Jarrett/Virginia Folklife Program)
David and Mason Via (photo by Pat Jarrett/Virginia Folklife Program)

David and Mason Via – bluegrass/singer-songwriters (Patrick Springs, Virginia)
Songwriter and performer David Via, of Stuart, Virginia, started singing in church at age three and playing guitar at age twelve. During his long career, David has performed with Tony Rice, Curtis Burch, and Ronnie Bowman, among others, but he is best known as a songwriter. He has penned numerous chart-topping songs for artists including Ronnie Bowman, Dede Wyland, and Larry Keel. David’s son Mason is a stunningly gifted young singer and songwriter. Mason has received critical acclaim for his debut recording Up, Up, Up, which is comprised entirely of original compositions. MORE»

 

The Hurdle Brothers with Reverend Tarrence Paschall (photo by Pat Jarrett/Virginia Folklife Program)
The Hurdle Brothers with Reverend Tarrence Paschall (photo by Pat Jarrett/Virginia Folklife Program)

The Hurdle Brothers with Reverend Tarrence Paschall – Tidewater gospel (Portsmouth, Virginia)
Brothers Wilbert, Robert, and Melvin, and Wilbert’s son Dyrell Hurdle individually boast gospel careers that span decades, with each brother singing separately in numerous groups, including the Gospel Harmonaires, the Royal Lights, the Gospel Kings, and the Norfolkaires. They joined together to form the Hurdle Brothers in 2000 when a friend and pastor of Sixth Street Baptist Church in Suffolk was in need of a group for their Men’s Day on short notice. They have been singing with their band ever since, playing at churches and festivals across the South, and performing original arrangements of traditional songs and Wilbert’s own compositions. MORE»

 

Trio Sefardi (photo copyright Michael G Stewart)
Trio Sefardi (photo copyright Michael G Stewart)

Trio Sefardi – Sephardic folk songs (Northern Virginia)
Trio Sefardi is inspired by a passion for Sephardic music, playing with La Rondinella, the Western Wind, and National Heritage Fellow Flory Jagoda. When the Sephardic Jews were forced into exile from Spain and Portugal in the late fifteenth century, many settled in other Mediterranean countries but preserved their native language, Ladino, and their oral culture. Flory Jagoda has been recognized as a critically important carrier of this unique musical heritage and also as a composer and arranger of new Sephardic songs. Jagoda has taught her music to many, and in 2002 apprenticed gifted singer Susan Gaeta of Burke, Virginia, through the Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Program. While Gaeta still performs with Jagoda regularly, in 2010 GAeta formed her own group, Trio Sefardi, with multi-instrumentalists Howard Bass and Tina Chancey. The group combines a respect for Sephardic tradition with a creative approach to arranging and scoring, bringing the vibrant past into the living present. MORE»

 

 

Reverend Frank Newsom (photo by Pat Jarrett/Virginia Folklife Program)
Reverend Frank Newsom (photo by Pat Jarrett/Virginia Folklife Program)

Reverend Frank Newsome – old regular Baptist a cappella gospel (Haysi, Virginia)
An elder in the Old Regular Baptist Church, Frank Newsome is a master practitioner of lined-out hymn singing, one of the oldest musical traditions in Virginia. Newsome was born in 1942 in Pike County, Kentucky, where his father worked as a coal miner. One of twenty-two children, Newsome attended Old Regular Baptist Church services as a child with his mother. He settled in Virginia at about the age of twenty and worked in the coal mines. MORE»

 

 

Humayun Khan
Humayun Khan

Humayun Khan – Hindustani singing (Annandale, Virginia)
Indian classical music has evolved over the centuries, and its many diverse forms reflect the great diversity of the subcontinent of India. Hindustani classical music is traditionally practice-oriented, and learned without formal notation, through the traditional “guru-shishya” or teacher-student tradition. Khyal is a modern genre of Hindustani classical singing in North India. Originally from Kabul, Afghanistan, Humayun Khan’s family moved to the Washington, D.C., area following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1980. He began studying Indian classical music in 1990, learning from many of the great masters both here and abroad. Humayun is known for outstanding performances as a vocalist and harmonium player, and has spent the past ten years mastering his unique style, blending Persian poetry with Indian classical ragas. MORE»

 

Harold Mitchell (photo by Pat Jarrett/Virginia Folklife Program)
Harold Mitchell (photo by Pat Jarrett/Virginia Folklife Program)

Harold Mitchell – Emcee Extraordinaire (Galax, Virginia)
If you have attended the Galax Old Fiddlers’ Convention in the last 40 years, you will recognize the familiar voice of Galax native Harold Mitchell. Always impeccably dressed and sporting a white cowboy hat, Harold has served as the instrument-contest emcee at Galax since 1972. Even before he began emceeing, Harold’s voice was familiar to locals as the regular deejay at WHHV Radio in neighboring Hillsville, where he spun the records of Bill Monroe, Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs, and other founding fathers of bluegrass. He has emceed countless musical performances in and around Galax ever since introducing his first artist, the great Charlie Monroe, some 50 years ago. Harold remains the gold standard of emcees against which all others are judged, and we welcome him back to the Richmond Folk Festival. MORE»

 

 

 

The Virginia Folklife Stage and Folklife Area is sponsored by Union Bank & Trust.

About The Richmond Folk Festival
The Richmond Folk Festival is one of Virginia’s largest events, drawing visitors from all over the country to downtown Richmond’s historic riverfront. The Festival is a FREE three day event that got its start as the National Folk Festival, held in Richmond from 2005- 2007. In the tradition of the “National,” the Richmond Folk Festival features excellent performing groups representing a diverse array of cultural traditions on seven stages. The festival includes continuous music and dance performances, a Virginia Folklife Area featuring ongoing demonstrations, an interactive Family Area produced by the Children’s Museum of Richmond, a folk art marketplace, regional and ethnic foods, festival merchandise and more. More information is available at www.richmondfolkfestival.org.