On July 30 and 31, the Bishop Hill Heritage Association will host a brand new event, the Bishop Hill Folk Festival. Located in the village park in the center of town, this 2-day festival will present some of the best known folk and ethnic music performers from around the Midwest, such as Bill Robinson, Joel Mabus, Chris Vallillo, Catfish Keith, Bahola, Chicago Spelmanslag, and many more. The musical styles presented will span a wide range of folk and ethnic music including Old Time Square Dance Music, Hammered Dulcimer, Swedish, Blues, Bluegrass and Mexican to name just a few. Many of the artists will also conduct informal workshops in the Steeple Building throughout both days. These workshops will be informal performance and demonstration sessions where the audience can see and hear detailed descriptions of the particular musical form the artist represents. All activities will be free and open to the public.  Music starts at noon and continues through both days. The complete schedule can be found at www.bishophillfolkfestival.com.

This event is funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation, and the Bill and Susan Sherrard Foundation. Our media sponsor is FM95 in Galesburg, IL. For more details, you can also call 309 927-3899 or email bhha@mymctc.net. 

Main Stage Performances on Saturday July 30 in the Park:

Noon:  Paul Wilson & Mary Abendroth (traditional Swedish) 1:00:    Bahola (Celtic) 2:00:  Joel Mabus (old time and original Midwestern Folk) 3:00:   Los Condenados Haustecos (Mexican Ranch Music) 4:00:   Chicago Spelmanslag (Swedish Dance music) 5:00:   Volo Bogtrotters  (Traditional String band) 

Saturday Workshops: In the Steeple Building

2:15:   Bahola 3:15:   Joel Mabus 4:15:   Los Condenados Haustecos 5:15:   Chicago Spelmanslag 

Main Stage Performances on Sunday July 31 in the Park:

Noon: Holy Cross Immaculate Heart of Mary Marimba Ensemble 1:00:   Chris Vallillo  (Original and historic Rural Illinois music) 2:00:  Nordland Band (Swedish) 3:00:  Catfish Keith  (Blues) 4:00:  Bill Robinson and Friends  (Nationally recognized hammer dulcimer music) 

Sunday Workshops: In the Steeple Building

2:15:  Bill Robinson 3:15:  Nordland Band 4:15:  Catfish Keith


Paul Wilson and Mary Abendroth

Paul Wilson and Mary Abendroth are a husband and wife team from Brainerd, Mn. that has spent their lives exploring the folk arts and culture of their Scandinavian forebearers.  Paul sings and plays the two-row button accordion, fiddle, guitar and pump organ.  Mary sings and plays pump organ and guitar.  The two present songs in Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish, English and “Swinglish” and provide translations and historical context for their songs.

Joel Mabus   

Joel Mabus is one of contemporary folk music’s most eclectic performers. A skilled guitar, fiddle, banjo, and mandolin player and melodic songwriter, Mabus has played everything from traditional folk tunes to bluegrass, blues, and original songs.  When Joel’s parents came of age in the 1930’s, they took their old-time farm-grown music on the road with other family members as “hillbilly” entertainers, barnstorming the Midwest in medicine shows, small-town radio programs as well as their long-standing job performing road shows for the WLS Barn Dance.

This pedigree was not lost on Joel as a child in the 1960’s. The family mandolin was his first calling, quickly adding banjo, guitar and fiddle.  Mabus remains a one-off, walking that lonesome valley, making and marking his way as a working artist outside the confines of the usual music business.

Nordland Band

Nordland Band’s warm sound starts with violin, mandolin, guitar, wooden flute, and vocals, drums, acoustic bass and trumpet. Repertoire is carefully chosen from folk pieces, popular music, and the band’s own compositions which live within the folk tradition. Jutta Distler, the leader, researches most of the music during visits to her musician family in Sweden and Denmark. Since its inception in 1990, the Nordland Band been invited to perform for the Royal Danish Consulate, at the Winnipeg and the Earth Song Folk Festivals in Canada, Michigan’s Spirits of the Woods Folk Fest and the University of Michigan’s Folk Life Fest.