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Richmond Folk Festival Virginia Folklife Area to Showcase “Hot Rods and Hot Licks”



The Virginia Folklife Program, sponsored by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, is revving up for the 15th annual Richmond Folk Festival with a Hot Rods and Hot Licks program celebrating the Commonwealth’s most skilled and innovative “motorheads”—artisans of the automotive arts.
“Virginians have had an ongoing love affair with automobiles from the start,” said state folklorist Jon Lohman. “In addition to revolutionizing travel, it transformed our very conception of the American landscape and captured the imaginations of young people everywhere.”
Audiences will witness the intricate art of pinstriping, custom form sculpting, bead rolling and stretching, and much more, while getting up close and personal with the prized rolling wonders of local hot rodders and collectors.

And while we won’t be racing these beauties on the street, speed will definitely be on display, as audiences will be able to witness the complete disassembly and reassembly of a small block Chevy engine in world record time by our own Hot Rodders of Tomorrow national youth champions from Roanoke County Schools.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch Virginia Folklife Stage will also be operating at full-throttle. While Team Vibrant Performance breaks down engines in record times, young contestants will dazzle the judges with their own lightning quick banjo breakdowns in the 5th Annual Scott Street Five String Finals. As master custom car designer Marty Martino demonstrates the sculpting of whimsical curves on a hot rod’s fins, master Mongolian contortionist Mandkhai Erdembat will bend her own body into equally elegant yet seemingly impossible forms. Much in the way that Virginians turn local lots into cruise-ins and drag strips, audiences will marvel at the remarkable artistic expressions and aesthetic cultures that arose from the urban parking lots of Hampton Roads with the dazzling hip hop dance moves of Washington, D.C.-area arts collective Urban Artistry. And just as the greatest custom car artisans combine a deeply held reverence for the past with a burning passion to create something new, the Folklife Stage will feature a diverse range of artists who draw from some of the state’s most beloved traditional musical genres—blues, bluegrass, gospel, and honky-tonk—in a manner that honors tradition yet leaves the indelible stamp of their own imagination and handicraft.
The 2019 Virginia Folklife Area welcomes the following performers and material culture demonstrators:
Bryan Bowers Band (autoharp virtuoso/folk)
Danny Knicely (multi-instrumentalist and dancer)
Deborah Pratt and Clementine Macon Boyd (oyster shucking champions)
Dr. Levine and the Dreaded Blues Lady with Andrew Alli (blues)

Andrew Ali

Frank Newsome (Old Regular Baptist hymns)
J Pope (vocalist and lyricist)
Legendary Ingramettes (gospel)
Linda Lay and Springfield Exit (bluegrass)
Mandkhai Erdembat (Mongolian contortion)
Urban Artistry (house dance and hip hop)
Whitetop Mountain Band (old time)
Wild Ponies (Americana)

Wild Ponies

Willard Gayheart featuring Dori Freeman (Appalachian singer/songwriter)

Material Culture Demonstrators

Jack Harris  (Custom Metal Work)
Kent Writtenberry (Autobody Metal Work and Custom Restoration)
Tom Van Nortwick (Automobile Pinstriping)
Marty Martino (Custom Auto Design and Shaping)
Roddy Moore (Curator of Virginia Folklife Area)
Team Vibrant Performance: Burton Center for Arts and Technology Motor Sports Team, Chris Overfelt, Coach (Engine Assembly and Disassembly)
The Virginia Folklife Program, a program of Virginia Humanities, is the state center for the documentation, presentation, and support of Virginia’s rich cultural heritage.
The Richmond Folk Festival is produced by Venture Richmond Events, LLC in partnership with the National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA). Other producing partners include the City of Richmond, Virginia Folklife Program at Virginia Humanities, and the Children’s Museum.
To learn more about the Richmond Folk Festival visit

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Richard Hayes is the co-founder of RVAHub. When he isn't rounding up neighborhood news, he's likely watching soccer or chasing down the latest and greatest board game.

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