Visiting Guest Performers Bring New Energy and Opportunities to TMY

Aside from expanding and contracting our waistline over the years (we’re human, after all), the Festival has remained for the most part tried and true every year. You know you can expect delicious food, folk art demonstrations, and dynamic performances from Tucson’s best cultural artists, as well as endearing recitals from kiddos just beginning to learn traditions.

But we also like to throw in some new ingredients to keep you coming back. This year we’ve officially launched a Visiting Guest Performer Series, bringing master artists from other regions to Tucson to perform and teach.

If you think we’re forgetting about our local treasures, rest assured, we’re not. We have successfully showcased music, dance, and traditional performers from Tucson since our inception. We love the local and we’ll always prioritize them!

But we have three good reasons for bringing in guest artists:

First, we believe in simply bringing new energy to the Festival. After 44 years, it’s just plain good to spice things up!

Second, we believe visitors from elsewhere can often help illuminate aspects of our own traditions as well as illustrate the surprising connections that exist across cultures. If we watch a blues harmonica player, for example, as he shares his artistry and lineage, we might be inspired to think about our own blues tradition. What blues songs exist in your family? Is there a borderlands blues sound? What instruments are or would be used in your culture to elicit such a sound? Is a Mexican ballad a kind of blues? These are the kinds of curiosities that wake up when we hear new sounds and see new sights.

Third, we believe in creating expanded opportunities for local artists. TMY has long facilitated educational opportunities for local artists via economic opportunities and access to education. The Polish dance ensemble, Lakjonik, for example, has funded several trips to Poland and brought master artists to Tucson with what they’ve earned selling Polish food during the Festival. We’ve witnessed the amazing transference of knowledge, skill, and tradition that happens when master artists teach their traditions. And we want to keep witnessing and facilitating that!

So, here’s who’s coming:

Phil Wiggins’ House Party, featuring Phil Wiggins, a master of acoustic harmonica in the Piedmont blues tradition and an NEA National Heritage Fellow along with Junious Brickhouse, a dancer/choreographer of urban dance forms, including house, jack, and funk styles.


 Julia Gutiérrez-Rivera, premiere dancer of Bomba y Plena, a traditional Puerto Rican dance form, and daughter of National Heritage Fellow Juan Gutiérrez, founder/director of Los Pleneros de la 21.


Lone Piñon, an acoustic trio from Northern New Mexico reviving Chicano stringband styles such as polka, chote, huapango, and classic borderlands conjunto.


Sonora Lírico, a lyrical opera quartet from Hermosillo, Mexico offering an homage to famous Mexican balladeer Juan Gabriel.


And if you want to be more than a spectator, be sure to attend 3 free workshops offered by Phil Wiggins, Junious Brickhouse, & Julia Gutiérrez-Rivera prior to the Festival. We’ll post information about dates and times as soon as we have them.


See you in October!