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All photos by Anna Selle

Folk Alliance International just celebrated their 30th year – and Playlistplay was fortunate enough to be in on the event. Throughout the panels, the workshops, the official showcases, and the private showcases, here are the seven artists that left us wanting more; captivated and infatuated.

Wallis Bird
This small UK artist performed with the power of any full band you’ve seen. Having first seen her in a tiny hotel room, Bird performed four songs that left us reeling – including an acapella number that you couldn’t tear yourself away from. As the week went on, we caught Bird a few more times. Her solo acoustic stylings had a lot of attitude and even more passion.

John Smith
John Smith had us swooning from first croon to final chord. The English singer/songwriter reminded us of everything we love about traditional British folk music. The eloquently charming Smith blew us away with his explosive voice. Much like Wallis Bird, we kept finding ourselves coming back time and time again to catch Smith’s performances.

Wild Rivers
Walking through the crowded hallways, Wild Rivers stood out. At first glance, you just knew they were musicians; so of course we investigated, and we were not disappointed. Popping into an already packed out room, we caught several songs from the Toronto folk group. Music that takes you back to warmer weather and the midwestern sun, Wild Rivers combines rootsy vibes with flawless harmonies.

Ida Wenøe
We got a taste of Ida Wenøe at Sofar Sounds Kansas City and immediately knew we’d have to track the European singer / songwriter down. We’re glad that we did. Haunting vocals resonated from the mouth of Wenøe, stealing our breath and commanding our attention. Wenøe was gentle and soft, and went toe-to-toe with every other musician at the conference.

On recommendation by a friend, we squeezed Talisk into our schedule; and after seeing them once, we managed to squeeze them in again. The Scottish folk trio strips it all back, consisting of a fiddle, acoustic guitar, and concertina (think tiny accordion). Perhaps what struck us most about this act – aside from the uniquely complicated riffs they were flawlessly executing – was the amount of fun they had performing.

Monique Clare
We just happened upon Monique Clare while tracking down John Smith. The two of them were playing an “in-the-round” style showcase. Clare, an Australian cellist quickly charmed the crowd with her personality, and really brought it home when she began singing. Bowing and plucking away, Clare was a force to be reckoned with as her voice rose above the cello’s hum.

The Latin artist from Montreal, Canada seamlessly blends his version of hip hop with traditional latin-influenced dance music. That was a flowery way to say that Boogát will make you dance. And dance we did. We caught Boogát twice, and both times were just as sweaty as could be. A pleasant surprise in a world where the acoustic guitar reigns supreme.