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40th Annual Smithsonian FolkLife Festival Brings New Orleans Jazz To D.C.

This Friday in Washington, D.C., New Year’s Eve comes early for fans of Dr. Michael White (pictured) and the Original Liberty Jazz Band. Instead of traveling at the turn of each year to see the clarinetist at New York’s Village Vanguard, Washingtonians can see White and his brass band as part of this year’s Smithsonian FolkLife Festival.

The FolkLife Festival, held annually on the National Mall, celebrates international cultures through a mix of daytime events and nighttime concerts. This year, the festival’s themes are “Alberta at the Smithsonian,” “Carriers of Culture: Living Native Basket Traditions” and “Nuestra Musica 2006: Latino Chicago.”

On June 30 and July 7-8, the festival will include a nightly concert series, “Been in the Storm So Long,” that will pay homage to musical traditions of the Gulf Coast.

Performing alongside White on June 30 are The Friendly Travelers, a gospel band formed nearly 50 years ago that performs traditional gospel standards along with original material. Both the Liberty band and The Friendly Travelers will perform at 6 p.m.

On July 7, the Hot 8 Brass Band and Big Chief Monk Boudreaux and the Golden Eagles Mardi Gras Indian Tribe will perform. Natives of New Orleans, both groups play traditional music that draws on their experience entertaining at Mardi Gras celebrations and Jazz Fest. This show also begins at 6 p.m.

Both concerts are free and will be held at the Jubilee Stage on the festival grounds. For more information, call (202) 633-1000 or visit

Originally Published