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updated: 8/31/2014 5:07 PM

Live folk music entertains at Geneva fest

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  • Members of The Plank Road Folk Song Society, including Jen Shilt on the Bass, perform for the crowd Sunday at the Fox Valley Folk Festival at Island Park in Geneva. The festival continues from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday.

       Members of The Plank Road Folk Song Society, including Jen Shilt on the Bass, perform for the crowd Sunday at the Fox Valley Folk Festival at Island Park in Geneva. The festival continues from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Ken Perlman, of Boston, plays his five-string banjo on the banks of the Fox River before perfuming for the crowd Sunday at the Fox Valley Folk Festival at Island Park in Geneva. The festival continues from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday.

       Ken Perlman, of Boston, plays his five-string banjo on the banks of the Fox River before perfuming for the crowd Sunday at the Fox Valley Folk Festival at Island Park in Geneva. The festival continues from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Music fans enjoy the day on the banks of the Fox River on Sunday during at the Fox Valley Folk Festival at Island Park in Geneva. The festival continues from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday.

       Music fans enjoy the day on the banks of the Fox River on Sunday during at the Fox Valley Folk Festival at Island Park in Geneva. The festival continues from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

 
 

Texas musician Danny Santos had little trouble summing up the enduring appeal of folk music.

"When you hear it, you know it's the real deal," Santos said. "It's honest music, made on the spot, right there in front of you."

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Santos was one of the more than 100 performers who entertained crowds during the first day of the 38th annual Fox Valley Folk Music and Storytelling Festival, held at Island Park in Geneva. The festival started Sunday and continues Monday.

In addition to all the folk and bluegrass music, the festival offered live storytelling, music workshops, dancing and a children's area. The event is organized by the Fox Valley Folklore Society.

Sunday's music performances were spread across eight stages at Island Park, including a main stage for the featured acts. The warm sounds of acoustic guitar, banjo and fiddle floated from the stages and the impromptu jams that popped up here and there.

Organizers of the Fox Valley Folk Festival say it is unique in how it distributes its performers.

"Everyone here is showcased," said Cheryl Joyal, one of the festival's on-site coordinators. "The performers who play the main stage don't just play there -- we shuttle them to other stages where they have workshop sessions with other musicians, people they wouldn't ordinarily play with. So wherever you are in the park, you have a chance to see our full list of performers."

Santos, a singer, songwriter and guitarist, said he loves that part of the festival.

"I get to play with all-new people," he said. "And there's a real camaraderie here among the musicians."

The festival attracts performers like Santos from all over the country, and it also provides an outlet for local talent.

Barbara Ellingsen, a music teacher from Villa Park, performed as part of the Plank Road Folk Music Society, which is based in Downers Grove.

"We've come here now for three or four years," she said. "It's a great event."

The fans who listened to the various performances represented a wide range of ages, from teens to seniors. Kristen Fuller, another festival coordinator, said folk music has gotten a boost among younger people because of successful folk-tinged mainstream acts like Mumford & Sons.

"It's great to see," she said. "This kind of music has been around for such a long time, and if you look at all the teens we have volunteering or just attending, it seems like it will keep on going."

The festival will run from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday. Go to foxvalleyfolk.com for details.

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