On Saturday, September 9th, Connecticut Folk hosted their annual CT Folk Fest & Green Expo, guaranteeing a night of music ranging from bluegrass to jazz while promoting an environmentally sustainable community. With artists such as Southern Avenue and vendors like Save the Sound, an organization that aims to protect and improve the land, air, and water of Connecticut, CT Folk drew in a diverse and excited audience for their joint fundraiser-festival.
Maria Muldaur, a now-81-year-old singer, had children, young adults, and seniors dancing to some of her biggest hits. “Midnight at the Oasis,” which hit #6 on the US Billboard Hot 100 in 1973, and 2011’s “Steady Love” were crowd favorites at the festival. Muldaur considers her 43 albums to be her biggest professional accomplishment, but performing itself was what drew her to art in the first place. When I spoke to her about it, she told me that she “just went for what [she] loved and was accepted into the community for that.” The “steady love” that Muldaur sang about in her music warmed New Haven’s Edgerton Park on Saturday.
While Muldaur built her success throughout her own lifetime, one local vendor’s work was built on generations. Kate Mirabella and her mother created a charming stand at the festival that fused Kate’s own love of literature with her mother’s upcycled work. Kate heads Connecticut Bookworm, a small business that you can find in local shops in and around New Haven. The shop advocates for sustainability by reusing books through thrift finds and donations with her own creative spin, one of them being the “blind date” with a book. She decorates and hides the titles from readers, only giving them the book’s genre and rapid-fire facts so they can choose based on vibes alone. Mirabella even has a Taylor Swift-themed section that describes a book only by which album it best corresponds with.
Mirabella also has her own band, Passing Strange, that is, in her own words, “laced in jazz, bedazzled in blues, and brewed in a vat of indie rock.” In the true spirit of folk music, she forged her own path inspired by her life and community. While her edgy top song “Ballroom Floor” is quite different from Muldaur’s sassy “Midnight at the Oasis,” they both take on a different perspective that encompasses the foundation of New Haven’s folk culture—the essence of which is variety. There is no one folk singer nor listener that is completely alike in this community; however, they can all find enjoyment in music that is inspired by their roots, no matter where those may be.
CT Folk aims to promote environmental sustainability, but the festival also promotes sustainability in community and culture. In my experience, it is rare to find a place that truly provides fun for all ages, but that night, Edgerton Park brought together this “steady love” in song and dance.