2018 Lotus Festival Artists

2018 Lotus Festival Artists


For 25 years The Lotus Music & Arts Festival has brought a wide range of international and national artists to Bloomington, not only to its acclaimed festival, but throughout the year. Here's a selection from this year's line-up.

Molsky's Mountain Drifters
789.42 Mol

Molsky’s Mountain Drifters are exploring a new sound within traditional Americana. The band features Grammy-nominated Bruce Molsky, a revered Old-Time music ambassador and Berklee College of Music Visiting Scholar, along with guitar genre-bender Stash Wyslouch and clawhammer banjo master Allison de Groot. “I was looking for a new voice,” says Molsky, “a new avenue of expression using old time mountain music as the jumping-off point, but not being constrained by hard core traditionalism. Allison and Stash are showing me the way, just where the music is headed, in directions I never would have imagined when I started my own journey into the mountains a long time ago.”

Bob Lucas
789.213 Luc

Bob Lucas came to Indiana from Michigan in the late ’60s. During the ’70s he lived at Needmore in Brown County and sat in on a wide spectrum of alternative music in Bloomington, playing with the Screaming Gypsy Bandits, Buckdancer’s Choice, Goldrush, and Eclectricity. In the ’80s he frequently sat in with the Indiana Rain-Crows and accompanied Lotus Dickey in concert, even after relocating to Ohio in 1986 where he serves as composer and performer for Mad River Theater Works. His recordings include Rushsylvania, Kin, and Banjo for Lovers.

Anne Janelle
789.211 Jan

From roots rock to synth pop, 13 original songs and 2 instrumental palette-cleansers crackle with emotion. Intuitive, immediate, up-close and personal.


Bright Sunny South

Sam Amidon
789.213 Ami

Bright Sunny South includes interpretations of both traditional and contemporary songs, like Tim McGraw’s “My Old Friend” and Mariah Carey’s “Shake It Off," as well as a new take on “Weeping Mary,” a shape-note hymn that his parents, Peter and Mary Alice Amidon, had recorded with the Word of Mouth Chorus for Nonesuch Records on the 1977 album Rivers of Delight: American Folk Hymns from the Sacred Harp Tradition. NPR's Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep describes Bright Sunny South as "a new spin on very traditional American folk music." (Wikipedia)

Orquesta el Macabeo
789.268 Orq

Orquesta el Macabeo think of themselves as rockeros con guille de salseros – rockers posing as a salsa band. Bent on shaking up the traditions of Puerto Rican salsa pioneers who have preceded them, this 11-member ensemble adds punk, ska, and reggae flavors to classic salsa sounds. Live performances are raw, immediate, and saturated in frenetic percussion, driving bass lines, and down-and-dirty brass. The band’s music is political as much as it is danceable: their songs address Puerto Rico’s dire social and political crises in a way that few other island salsa bands have done. That combination of form and content make El Macabeo’s music urgent and relevant.

The following mountain

Sam Amidon
789.6 Ami

Sam Amidon digs through sounds and stories of late 19th- and early twentieth-century American musical culture (ballads, hymns, work songs) and uses them as points of departure for his own melodic explorations. A singer and a multi-instrumentalist on banjo, guitar, and fiddle, Sam always creates original work that pushes Americana boundaries. His most recent album, The Following Mountain, is his first collection of original songs, a synthesis of folk-based forms and experimental improvisation. “Sam Amidon’s best work has been an ongoing search for wisdom within our collective consciousness, exploring every inch of the American songbook to better understand the present landscape” (Pitchfork Review).

Kaumakaiwa Kanaka’ole
789.2994 Kan

Kaumakaiwa grew up on the slopes of the volcano Mauna Kea (which she regards as a an ancestor), and its primordial power was a daily influence. Her tour de force performances offer a glimpse of Hawaiian cultural practices that have been passed down through at least seven generations. Kaumakaiwa brings to the stage immense talents as a singer, chanter, and dancer. She also has a deep understanding of both her Hawaiian culture, and her place as a modern, transgender Hawaiian (mahu wahine). Her songs draw from ancient ‘oli (chant) traditions, contemporary melodies, and original mele (lyrics). “My work draws directly from ancestral memory and hula practice, with roots in chant that transforms to melody,” she says. “It is not simply Western song with Hawaiian lyrics.” At Lotus, Kaumakaiwa is accompanied by guitarist Shawn Pimental.

789.3 Ayn

Aynur is the voice of a culture: a Turkish-born Kurd, she sings Kurdish songs steeped in centuries of tradition and yet brings her own contemporary style to a folkloric repertoire. Aynur’s music focuses on the life and suffering of the Kurdish people, and in particular, Kurdish women. Her career has included collaborations with the likes of Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble, Kayhan Kalhor, and Javier Limón. In 2017, she received the Master of Mediterranean Music Award from the Berklee College of Music’s Mediterranean Music Institute. On the occasion, she said, “I grew up with the voices of women who lamented war and the children they could not raise. Day after day, lamentations have grown but not sons or daughters. I dedicate this award to our women who, despite violence and oppression, do not bow their heads.”

I am another you

Making Movies
789.3 Mak

Making Movies blends pulsing Afro-Latino rhythms, psychedelic jams and rock ’n’ roll swagger into powerful live performances, full of theatrics and cathartic climaxes. Armed with the ambitious and politically charged 2017 release I Am Another You — “lyrically and sonically one of the best albums of the year,” NPR raved — and a companion EP, You Are Another Me, the Kansas City band punches out one high-energy song after another. The foursome showcases their Latin American roots, with frontman Enrique Chi incorporating traditional instruments like the Panamanian mejorana alongside electric guitar, or the Chaurand brothers swapping drums and percussion for a dueling zapateado huasteco, a traditional form of dance from Veracruz, Mexico.

If I had the strength

Lemon Bucket Orkestra
789.3 Lem

Born in Toronto as a quartet of buskers, the Lemon Bucket Orkestra is now a 12-member-plus guerilla-punk-klezmer band that delivers cathartic and exhilarating performances. On stage – or on Kirkwood – the Orkestra is a movable street scene. They bring the party with big brass, strings, drums, dance, and vocals. With these Canadian musical adventurers, you have license to be a little wild. Go ahead: reach for that primal scream. “Music to shake you by the scruff, in the best possible way” (CBC Music).

Joys abound

Anandi Bhattacharya
789.2914 Bha

Anandi Bhattacharya – a child prodigy in a family filled with illustrious musicians and singers – gave her first radio performance at the age of four. Anandi grew up among music and musicians: her father is slide guitar master Debashish Bhattacharya, and she inherited her golden voice from her grandmother. Her singing is a mixed style of Agra, Patiala, and Maihar gharanas (Indian singing styles), and she has also delved into Bollywood music and even western genres. At Lotus, Anandi is joined by her father on slide guitar and her uncle, tabla master Subhasis Bhattacharya. The trio blends modern sounds with traditional instruments to create a singular musical experience.


789.22 Spi

Beyond the horizon of English traditional folk music you’ll find Spiro. The band’s raw, punk-infused take on folk and string music is propelled by the fierce and joyous interplay of violinist and composer Jane Harbour, mandolinist Alex Vann, guitarist Jon Hunt, and accordionist Jason Sparkes. For fans of English trad, Spiro will sound both familiar and strange: melodies of classical heft vie with driving rhythmic riffs of unusual beauty. Their performances ar cinematic, and exciting. And for audiophiles looking forward to picking up a Spiro CD at the festival: the intricate arrangements have been meticulously worked out in advance, and the albums are recorded as live performances, with no overdubs or multi-tracking. Jane Harbour says, “We are like watch-makers who have made an intricate machine. You just wind it up and let it go.”

Kin sonic

Jupiter & Okwess
789.296 Okw

Front man Jupiter Bokondji and the band Okwess hail from Kinshasa, in Congo. Their version of the exhilarating soukous that are jet-fueled Congolese versions of rumba includes healthy doses of funk, soul, and even rock. Jupiter & Okwess deliver more than just high-energy music: his songs often touch on Congo’s colonial past, and its modern economic and social challenges. “Jupiter Bokondji is remarkable both for the sense of danger and urgency he puts into in his music, and for the way he matches an extraordinary variety of Congolese rhythms and languages against western influences in a band dominated by percussion, bass and electric guitars” (The Guardian).

Issam Rafea, Gao Hong

Ancient musical traditions of China and Syria come together in the collaboration of Gao Hong and Issam Rafea. Gao is a master of the pipa, the Chinese four-stringed lute; Rafea is a master of the oud, or Arabic lute. Both are award-winning composers and improvisers, and every performance together is an improvisation — every performance is remarkable. In concerts, the duo asks audiences to suggest titles, and their musical responses are in-the-moment pieces, fresh and immediate, neither Chinese nor Arabic, and somehow both ancient and modern. “All in all, I believe music is a universal language,” says Rafea. “Whether you are from Africa or the Middle East, America or Europe, you have a connection to music, you can feel the beat.”

Lo Cor de La Plana
780.902 Cor

Lo Còr de la Plana matches six male a cappella voices with the stomping, clapping beat of hand drums. Its Mediterranean roots include Arabic and African influences and Gregorian chant. Singing in the ancient language Occitan, the group creates intricate harmonies typical of polyphony, soaring between the earthly and the sacred. The musical result is a joyful, sometimes boisterous vocal celebration that needs no translation.

Rio Mira
789.269 Rio

Rio Mira — named for the river that separates Ecuador and Colombia — brings together marimba masters Esteban Copete and Larry Preciado with Ecuadorian singer Karla Kanora and an ensemble of Afro-Latino folkloric musicians from the Colombian city of Cali and the Ecuadorian city of Esmeraldas. The Pacific Coast of these countries is a musical habitat of East African diaspora traditions tied together by marimba. The marimba music of Colombia and Ecuador was declared an Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO in 2015, and Rio Mira aims to preserve this treasure. The liquid sound of the marimbas and lilting call-and-response vocals are unique and unforgettable: “There is nothing quaint or old-fashioned about this intriguing and enchanting band” (The Guardian).


Born in Paris to Caribbean parents, Delgrès's vocalist/guitarist Danae Pascal has long searched for the link between his love of the blues and the music of his ancestral home of Guadeloupe. This trio gives voice to the slaves from the French Caribbean island who found refuge in New Orleans. The group's blend of Mississippi Delta blues, Caribbean rhythms and Big Easy funk is injected with a dose of caustic trance rock that calls to mind Touareg soul, John Lee Hooker and the Black Keys.

James Hill

The Old Silo invites you into a world of new beginnings, old regrets, might-have-beens, burning questions, beautiful women, horny geezers and gold diggers. Produced by indie rock hero Joel Plaskett and recorded at New Scotland Yard in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, The Old Silo cuts a deep, winding path through Folk, Roots Rock and Americana.

James Hill
787.89 Hil

James Hill (born 1980) is a classically trained Canadian musician who has focused on the ukulele, both as his primary instrument and as a method of music instruction for school children. He earned a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of British Columbia. (Wikipedia)

Mamadou Kelly
789.43 Kel

Mamadou Kelly knows Malian music inside and out, thanks to his origins in Mali’s Niger River Delta – and years spent playing with legends like Ali Farka Toure and Afel Bocoum. A brilliant guitarist and vocalist steeped in the West African “desert blues,” Mamadou carves out rhythmic, propulsive grooves with his band BanKaiNa. “His easy music sounds like it owes almost as much to the folk roots of early rock and roll as it does to the rich traditional sounds and infectious Afropop of West Africa” (Pop Matters).


Hoven Droven
789.3 Hov

Trad meets metal in the take-no-prisoners folk thrash of Hoven Droven. These Scandinavian folk-rockers have been on the Lotus wishlist forever – it’s perfect that they finally make it to Bloomington in our 25th year. With a distinctive mix of traditional Swedish folk tunes and wall-of-sound percussion, brass, and guitars, they’ve carved their own niche in the Scandinavian folk scene. “Hoven Droven combines the melodic sense of folk music with the intensity and attitude of a heavy metal band” (Allmusic.com).

She waits for night

Uncle Earl

Kristin Adreassen, Rayna Gellert, KC Groves, and Abigail Washburn are back together – and kicking off our 25th festival in style. Fearless ambassadors for stringband music, Uncle Earl uses tradition as a springboard for their unique perspectives as vocalists, instrumentalists, and songwriters. Independently, Andreassen (guitar, fiddle, ukulele, harmonica, vocals, clogging), Gellert (fiddle, guitar, vocals), Groves (mandolin, guitar, bass, vocals), and Washburn (banjo, vocals) are adventurous, compelling voices in the ongoing Old-time renaissance. Over the course of many years together, this all-star quartet has introduced countless audiences to the beauty and potential of traditional American old-time music, while inspiring the explorations of the next generation of roots musicians.


789.2 Haw

Every musician in this formidable instrumental quartet has built a career in the realms of Americana and resurgent U.S. Old-time music. Featuring Brittany Haas (fiddle), Paul Kowert (bass), Jordan Tice (guitar), and Dominick Leslie (mandolin), Hawktail has played with bands like Crooked Still, Punch Brothers, David Rawlings, the Prairie Home Companion, and more. Their 2018 release Unless is Hawktail’s debut, and it’s an impressive collection of original tunes. “We strove to write strong tunes that could take us to different places while holding to a simple form, for a natural music that breathes,” says Kowert. The musicians shine both as individuals and an ensemble to to offer a supple command of classic old-time traditions to create a sound that is vital, beautiful, and energetic.


Karsh Kale
789.3 Kal

Karsh Kale is a genre-bending musical collaborator and a world-renowned tabla player. Exploring the worlds of electronica, Indian classical music, rock, jazz fusion, and hip hop has led Karsh to work with some of the most renowned artists in the world. At Lotus, he’ll perform with dulcimer player Max ZT, whose bold, experimental approach to this traditional instrument is the backbone to beautiful, complex compositions; his unorthodox playing style has been a pioneering force in revolutionizing dulcimer techniques.

Guilhem Desq

Nicknamed the “Hendrix of Hurdy-Gurdy,” Guilhem Desq breathes new life and innovation into this old-world instrument – a deep-barreled, lute-shaped string instrument whose sound is generated by a the turning of a crank. Desq electrifies this originally acoustic instrument and plays a wide variety of genres on it – anything from traditional European folk to Middle-Eastern tunes, contemporary rock, hip-hop, and electronica. “He builds musical stories and creates interesting forms for us to enjoy. The various styles and textures keep the music moving forward and it is easy to forget that everything was created on one instrument, simply amazing….” (Staccatofy.com)


Kaumakaiwa Kanaka’ole
789.2994 Kan

Kaumakaiwa grew up on the slopes of the volcano Mauna Kea (which she regards as a an ancestor), and its primordial power was a daily influence. Her tour de force performances offer a glimpse of Hawaiian cultural practices that have been passed down through at least seven generations. Kaumakaiwa brings to the stage immense talents as a singer, chanter, and dancer. She also has a deep understanding of both her Hawaiian culture, and her place as a modern, transgender Hawaiian (mahu wahine). Her songs draw from ancient ‘oli (chant) traditions, contemporary melodies, and original mele (lyrics). “My work draws directly from ancestral memory and hula practice, with roots in chant that transforms to melody,” she says. “It is not simply Western song with Hawaiian lyrics.” At Lotus, Kaumakaiwa is accompanied by guitarist Shawn Pimental.