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The Institute of Musical Traditions turns 30 this year, but it isn’t celebrating with many grand innovations. That wouldn’t make sense. Tonight, and at concerts through the spring, you’ll hear exactly what you’d expect: a hodgepodge of folk artists, performing a wide array of traditional styles from bluegrass to American Gypsy jazz.
With outposts in Rockville and Takoma Park, the IMT is dedicated to upholding traditional folk music and supporting new hybrid forms. According to David Eisner, the organization’s founder, this season will continue the concert series’ tradition of “live music and outreach and workshops,” bringing “the acoustic music community” to D.C.
The series frequently pairs well-known and lesser-known artists, as is the case with tonight’s concert, where the bluegrass pioneer Mike Auldridge—-profiled over the weekend in The Washington Post—-will perform with two younger artists he’s collaborated with in the studio, Eric Brace and Peter Cooper. Another scheduled event is a Bob Dylan tribute, which Eisner described as “a great opportunity to hear the local D.C. groups doing something they don’t normally do.”
Some of the season’s programming, Eisner admits, runs the “risk of falling flat”: At the very least, the highland/lowland blend of Scottish music from the Tannahill Weavers and the French-Algerian guitar of Pierre Bensusan are tailored to a very small audience. But regardless, the series promises “good music,” Eisner says.
“They’re so good at what they do,” said Eisner. “And that’s the common denominator.”
For the full calendar of events, visit the Institue for Musical Traditions’ website. Eric Brace, Peter Cooper, and Mike Auldridge at the Institute for Musical Traditions Takoma Park at the Takoma Park Community Center, 7500 Maple Ave., Takoma Park. $20; standing room only.