Festival preview: Landfall Festival of World Music

Ghanaian siblings African Showboyz will perform on September 28.
Ghanaian siblings African Showboyz will perform on September 28.

Landfall Festival of World Music

CSPS Hall, Greene Square Park and more – Sept. 24-28

The Sixth Annual Landfall Festival of World Music comes to multiple venues in Cedar Rapids from Sept. 24-28. The festival planners boast having more than 70 musicians from 12 countries this year.

“This year’s line-up may be the strongest and most diverse ever, with everything from Polish free jazz to the haunting harmonies of four young women from Finland to the danceable polyrhythms of five brothers from Ghana,” said Legion Arts executive director F. John Herbert.

In addition to the concerts, there will be food vendors in Greene Square Park for Saturday’s show and a music workshop for high school music students throughout the week.


Kardemimmit is a modern folk quartet made up of four young women from Finland, and while their style has roots in Finnish folk tradition, they write their own material instead of playing traditional tunes. The band has been together for almost 10 years, releasing three records since 2006, touring the European festival circuit and winning the 2012 Folk Music Album of the Year by the Finnish Folk Music Association. They are known for their “ice-clear harmonies” and they play their music on the kantele, a 15 or 38-stringed type of dulcimer that is the national instrument of Finland. Kardemimmit will be performing Thursday, Sept. 26 at 5:30 p.m. at the Cedar Rapids Public Library with a suggested donation of $10 at the door.


Maritza is an acoustic folk band from Decorah, Iowa that describes their brand of folk as “evocative melodies forged in the passionate history of Europe and Russia, lively Jewish wedding dance horas and frailachs, Gypsy (Romany) music … .” The members have experience—both academic and real world (travelling can be the best schooling, after all)—in these Eastern European folk traditions, as well as klezmer and jazz. Also, they are known to play in “off the grid” locations.Maritza will be playing for free on Saturday, Sept. 28 at Greene Square Park.


On Saturday, festival-goers will have the opportunity to see more Nordic folk when the Finnish-Norwegian band Frigg takes the stage. This seven-piece fiddle ensemble has released two albums since 2002, toured the U.S. and appeared on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion radio show. Their music is rounded out by a harmonium, double bass, dobro, mandolin, cittern (a rare, metal-strung instrument from the Renaissance period) and Estonian bagpipes. Even with this lineup of unusual instruments, seeing a group of musicians playing the fiddle simultaneously should be a treat.

Brendan Lee Spengler will be on tour with his “musica totale” band Viva L’American Death Ray Music aka VLADRM for the rest of the month and his mind will be out of the office until early October.