Sara Watkins to emcee The Ark’s 45th Ann Arbor Folk Festival

WHAT: The 45th Ann Arbor Folk Festival, a fund-raiser for The Ark, Ann Arbor’s non-profit home for folk, roots, and ethnic music. Presented by The Ark and Ford Motor Company Fund with support from the University of Michigan Center for Campus Involvement.

WHEN: Friday, January 28 & Saturday, January 29, 2022, 6:30 p.m.


Glen Hansard                                        Emmylou Harris

Punch Brothers                                     Patty Griffin

Madison Cunningham                         Oshima Brothers

Ghost of Paul Revere                            Sweet Water Warblers

Gina Chavez                                          Brittney Spencer

Kyshona                                                 Jared Deck

Sara Watkins, emcee                           Sara Watkins, emcee


** Program subject to change. **

WHERE:           Hill Auditorium on the campus of the University of Michigan

Get ready to Find Your Folk!  The 45th annual Ann Arbor Folk Festival returns to Hill Auditorium on Friday, January 28 and Saturday, January 29, live and in-person. Presented by The Ark and Ford Motor Company Fund.

The Ark is pleased to announce that Sara Watkins has joined the festival lineup as our MC both nights.  More than bluegrass, more than pop, more than alternative, the music of Sara Watkins has grown into something unique. Sara has been a favorite of Michigan audiences ever since her days with the pathbreaking progressive bluegrass band Nickel Creek and she was last seen at the Ann Arbor Folk Festival in 2019 as one-third of the acoustic supergroup, I’m With Her. She’s a formidable songwriter as well as a lovely fiddler and vocalist, and her music deeply reflects her life and its currents of creativity.

All funds raised through the Festival benefit The Ark, Ann Arbor’s non-profit home for folk, roots, and ethnic music. More info at

Please Note: Proof of vaccination is required for admission and current University policy requires masking at all times during events at Hill Auditorium. Please check The Ark’s COVID policy page the week of January 24, 2022 for up-to-date information about Festival requirements regarding masking, COVID vaccination, testing, and health screening. All attendees will be required to comply with the health and safety protocols in place at the time of the Festival.


Benefactor, Platinum, and Gold Circle Ticket Presale

November 29 through December 3, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm daily by phone at 734-761-1800

$10 per order processing fee


  • $1,250 contribution includes an $840 tax-deductible donation in support of The Ark
  • 4 Platinum-level tickets to the Festival

Choose 2 series tickets (both nights) or 4 tickets to one night of your choice

  • Personalized seat selection- Ark staff will work directly with you to select your seats
  • An invitation to our Folk Festival Pre-Glow Party prior to Saturday’s program
  • Parking pass
  • A copy of the limited edition 2022 Ann Arbor Folk Festival poster
  • A framed copy of a 2022 Ann Arbor Folk Festival photo
  • Recognition in the Festival program
  • An opportunity to include a quarter page message in the Festival program


  • The best seats in the house—within the first 10 rows
  • An invitation to our Folk Festival Pre-Glow Party prior to Saturday’s program
  • Parking pass
  • Recognition in the Festival program
  • $225 per ticket for Friday OR Saturday ($135/ticket is tax-deductible)
  • $400 per series ticket for Friday AND Saturday ($235/series ticket is tax-deductible)


  • Main floor seating
  • Recognition in the Festival program
  • $110 per ticket for Friday OR Saturday ($45/ticket is tax-deductible)
  • $200 per series ticket for Friday AND Saturday ($80/series ticket is tax-deductible)


December 6, 7 & 8     online 10:00 am Monday through 10:00 pm Wednesday, or by phone 10:00 am – 6:00 pm daily. MUTO ticketing fees apply.

Who’s eligible? Ark members at the $20 Friend level and up.

  • NEW: Ability to select your seats at time of purchase
  • $65 per ticket for Friday OR Saturday
  • $120 per series ticket for Friday AND Saturday
  • $45 per upper balcony ticket for Friday OR Saturday
  • $80 per series upper balcony ticket for Friday AND Saturday
  • Better seats than will be available during the public sale
  • with promo code or 734-763-8587


Friday, December 10 at 10:00 am. MUTO ticketing fees apply

Lineup: Friday, January 28, 6:30pm


Ireland’s Glen Hansard first garnered international attention as guitar player Outspan Foster in the 1991 Alan Parker film “The Commitments.” He is one half of the acclaimed duo The Swell Season, and in that capacity he and Czech songstress Markéta Irglová took home the Academy Award for Best Original Song for “Falling Slowly” off the “Once” soundtrack. In 2013, the Broadway adaptation, “Once, The Musical,” won eight Tony Awards including the top musical prize itself. He released seven albums as lead singer of The Frames. As a solo artist Glen has only gotten more popular. He has released four albums, sold out shows worldwide, performed on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and been featured on CBS Sunday Morning. He says, “In my house, when I was a kid, there was the holy trinity, which was Leonard Cohen, Van Morrison, and Bob Dylan with Bob sitting centre.” Whether busking the streets of Dublin, where he got his start, or headlining a gig, Glen Hansard has garnered a reputation as an unparalleled crowd-pleaser.


Punch Brothers — the all-virtuoso band of mandolinist Chris Thile, fiddler Gabe Witcher, guitarist Chris Eldridge (son of bluegrass great Ben Eldridge), banjoist Noam Pikelny, and bassist Paul Kowert—are, in the words of The New York Times, at “the frontier of an emerging style of what might be called American country-classical chamber music.” The New Yorker calls them “wide-ranging and restlessly imaginative.” They might have added modern jazz and alternative rock to that description, and really there’s almost no music that these geniuses can’t incorporate into the acoustic small-group format. Punch Brothers are coming to the Folk Festival days after the release of their new album, “Hell on Church Street,” their sixth. It’s a reimagining of the late Tony Rice’s classic newgrass album “Church Street Blues.” Check it out for yourself at Folk Festival, and step out onto the leading edge of new acoustic music!


Singer-songwriter Madison Cunningham first picked up a guitar at age seven, and by 15 she had decided to pursue her passion for songwriting, citing Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan as key inspirations. Fast forward to 2021, and the California native has a GRAMMY-nominated debut album “Who Are You Now” (Verve Forecast) under her belt, a follow-up EP, “Wednesday,” a late-night TV debut performance, and an Ann Arbor Folk Festival appearance. With a “voice reminiscent of Stevie Nicks” (WXPN’s The Key) and accolades comparing her to Fiona Apple (NPR Music), Jeff Buckley, and Joni Mitchell (Rolling Stone Country), Madison has made an impression on her musical peers. Champions include John Mayer, Joe Jonas, Harry Styles (for whom she opened at Madison Square Garden), Andrew Bird, and more. She toured North America supporting the Punch Brothers, Amos Lee, Lake Street Dive, Calexico, and Iron & Wine, performed as a duet partner with Chris Tile on Live From Here, and recently appeared in and helped score Sara Bareilles’ television show Little Voice.


“We grew up listening to Radiohead and the Beatles and Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd,” says Griffin Sherry, guitarist/singer in The Ghost Of Paul Revere. “Everyone assumed we were a bluegrass band because we were playing these traditional instruments, but we weren’t writing traditional music. We were just writing songs with the instruments we had.” The result is a sound that the Portland, Maine–based trio describes as “holler folk,” not because it involves a lot of hollering, per se, but because it invokes the rich communal tradition of field hollers, with their call-and-response melodies, sing-along hooks, and densely layered harmonies. It’s an elemental sound that you’ll never forget once you hear it. In 2019, their song “Ballad Of The 20th Maine” became the official state ballad of Maine after being voted in unanimously by the state legislature and signed into law by Maine’s governor, Janet Mills. The Ghost of Paul Revere comes to the Folk Festival with their third release, “Good at Losing Everything.”


A multiethnic Latin pop songstress, Gina Chavez is a ten-time Austin Music Award winner. Her bilingual record “Up.Rooted” topped both the Amazon and Latin iTunes charts following a feature on NPR’s All Things Considered and has gained wide critical acclaim. Her Tiny Desk concert made NPR’s top 15 of 2015. A recent cultural ambassador with the U.S. State Department, Gina offers passionate bilingual songs that take audiences on a journey through the Americas, blending the sounds and rhythms of the region with tension and grace. Her Spanish-language anthem “Siete-D” (Grand Prize winner of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest) recounts her experience volunteering in a gang-dominated suburb of San Salvador, where she co-founded the Niñas Arriba College Fund for young Latinas. Gina’s music is deeply personal. Her passionate collection of bilingual songs takes audiences on a journey to discover her Latin roots through music as she shares her story of life in Texas as a married, queer Catholic. She comes to the Folk Festival with her first all-Spanish album, the Latin Grammy–nominated “La que manda.”


Kyshona (“kuh-SHAUNA”) has been hailed by Billboard for “descriptive songwriting and soulful vocals alongside a versatile blend of folk, rock, and R&B influences.” Kyshona has always lent her voice and music to those that feel they have been silenced or forgotten. She began her career as a music therapist, writing her first songs with her patients—the students and inmates under her care. She soon found the need to write independently and find her own voice, and endeavor which led her to the fertile ground of the Nashville creative community and songwriting culture. Since then, she has learned how to balance her music career with her passion to heal the hurting. Audiences will find a common thread of empowerment, overcoming adversity, and finding hope in her work. Her debut LP, “Listen,” was co-produced with Andrija Tokic (St. Paul & The Broken Bones, Alabama Shakes, Hurray For The Riff Raff) and recorded mostly at his famed Nashville studio The Bomb Shelter. After Kyshona’s powerful performances, concertgoers often ask, “What can I do?” Her response? “Listen.”


More than bluegrass, more than pop, more than alternative, the music of Sara Watkins has grown into something unique. Sara has been a favorite of Michigan audiences ever since her days with the pathbreaking progressive bluegrass band Nickel Creek. She’s a formidable songwriter as well as a lovely fiddler and vocalist, and her music deeply reflects her life and its currents of creativity. “This is a breakup album with myself,” says Sara of her latest solo record, Young in All the Wrong Ways.” “I looked around and realized that in many ways I wasn’t who or where I wanted to be,” Sara says. It’s been a process of letting go and leaving behind patterns and relationships and in some cases how I’ve considered myself. What these songs are documenting is the turmoil you feel when you know something has to change and you’re grappling with what that means. It means you’re losing something and moving forward into the unknown.” Sara Watkins is the MC of the 2022 Ann Arbor Folk Festival.

Lineup: Saturday, January 29, 6:30pm


In Nashville they called her the conscience of country music, but there’s no label large enough to encompass Emmylou Harris. Over a career that’s entering its sixth decade, Emmylou has influenced musical movements from country-rock to the bluegrass revival to Americana, which she helped make into an ongoing genre with her remarkable 1995 album “Wrecking Ball.” In the 1970s and 1980s, Emmylou helped reenergize traditional country music with her crystalline, silvery voice. By now she’s something more: a singer who has realized the “Cosmic American Music” that was the dream of her onetime mentor, Gram Parsons. She has won 15 Grammy awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award, as well as the Polar Music Prize, and she’s a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. Emmylou has always had a deep bond with Ann Arbor audiences, and nobody who was at her 2002 Folk Festival headliner show will forget her rendition of “Imagine.” She’s released more than 30 albums, and there’s something fearless and true in nearly every one of them.


Widely regarded among the best pure songwriters of our era, Patty Griffin started out as a Maine native and a Boston coffeehouse sensation. She headed south to Austin, and her work combines Southern roots sounds and Northeastern poetry. Her elegant lyrics, bluesy alto vocals, and melodic guitar style aim directly at the deepest emotions of her listeners, and top artists on the country and acoustic side—like Emmylou Harris and even Kelly Clarkson—keep close tabs on what she’s up to. Emmylou says, “I would go anywhere, any time, to hear Patty Griffin sing her extraordinary songs.” Patty can rock a bit; she can sing straight gospel (and win a Best Traditional Gospel Grammy for it); she can do the sparest and most minimal kind of folk singer-songwriter performance. But what really distinguishes Patty Griffin is a body of deeply poetic songs, personal in unexpected ways. Patty’s latest album is self-titled. It collects songs written during and in the aftermath of profound personal crisis, several years in which she battled—and ultimately defeated—cancer, just as a similar and equally insidious disease metastasized into the American body politic. As always, Patty’s power lies in how, in the words of writer Holly Gleason, “her songs seem to freeze life and truth in amber.”


Since their local debut at The Ark’s Art Fair Stage in 2019, Oshima Brothers have generated mounting excitement among Michigan audiences. Oshima Brothers’ magnetic sibling sound and contagious joy result from a lifetime of making music together. Raised in a musical family in rural Maine, the brothers have honed a harmony-rich blend of contemporary folk and acoustic pop. On stage, Sean and Jamie create a full and complex sound with dynamic vocals, electric and acoustic guitars, octave bass, loops, and percussion Their art fuses songwriting with production, engineering, multi-instrumentalism, and filmmaking. But they cultivate a brand of roots pop that is infectious and always fun. Oshima Brothers currently have two albums to their credit, producing their self-titled debut in 2016, followed by the five-track EP “Under The Same Stars” in 2019.  The brothers write, record and produce all of their music and videos, mostly in their home studio in Maine. Says Maine Public Radio’s Sara Willis, “Those brother harmonies can’t be beat. And they are uplifting and, let’s face it, we need uplifting these days. AND, they are from Maine! Born and bred.”


The Sweet Water Warblers are nothing less than a Michigan supergroup! A dynamic encompassing fierce, tender, and strikingly familiar is what you can expect from the ensemble of these three frontwomen and songbirds of the Earthwork Music Collective. Powerful singers and songwriters in their own bands, Rachael Davis (Shout Sister Shout, The Rachael Davis Band), Lindsay Lou (Lindsay Lou and The Flatbellys) and May Erlewine (Seth & May, May Erlewine and The Moonlighters) came together at a promoter’s request for the first time as The Sweet Water Warblers in 2014 at the Hoxeyville Music Festival in northern Lower Michigan. Since then they’ve developed organic vocal harmonies, seamlessly interwoven instrumental work, and a body of compelling original songs, merging Rachael’s gospel- and soul-laced melodies, May’s Appalachian and country-leaning ballands, and the versatile country soul and bluegrass roots of Lindsay Lou. They come to the Folk Festival with their first full-length album, “The Dream That Holds This Child,” recorded during the pandemic in 2020.


Brittney Spencer is paving her own path in the country music genre and making major waves in the process. A People Magazine One to Watch, 2021 Spotify Hot Country Artist to Watch, Pandora 2021 Artist to Watch, one of CMT’s Next Women of Country, the Baltimore native is known for her free spirit and standout ability to mold life, truth, and wild imagination into songs. Her recent single “Sober & Skinny” has garnered praise from The New York Times, Rolling Stone, and more. Lauded as one of 12 Black Artists Shaping Country Music’s Future by USA Today and named one of 5 Black Artists Rewriting Country Music by the Recording Academy, Brittney has grown a robust fan base on the road. She recently headlined BottleRock as a member of The Highwomen, and she’s serving as direct support on tour with Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit, as well as opening for Brett Eldredge’s Good Day Tour and for Reba McEntire. Brittney Spencer comes to the Folk Festival with new music to be released in 2022.


Jared Deck has been praised for his “powerful, beautiful voice” by Alejandro Escovedo. Jared takes life one fight at a time. “The battle has always been internal, overcoming my own failures and working to improve,” he says. Raised on the dusty plains of an Oklahoma family farm, Jared worked in the fields as well as the town grocery, owned by his parents. “In a community of 1,200 people, big dreams seem impossible. We’re taught to manage expectations, put our nose down, and get to work.” Later he worked in an oilfield and a factory. During the Great Recession he got by with a job as a pianist in a Black church, where over the next six years, he received an unparalleled musical education. His songs tell stories in an honest voice of midland America. “The American Dream” won first place in the annual Woody Guthrie Folk Festival Songwriting Competition, and he comes to Michigan with a brand new release, “Bully Pulpit.”

About The Ark: Considered one of the top music clubs in the world, The Ark is renowned for the quality and breadth of its programming. The Ark is an intimate 400-seat club presenting performers who fall into the

wide-ranging genres of folk and roots music.  The Ark, now in its 56th year, is a non-profit organization dedicated to the enrichment of the human spirit through the presentation, preservation and encouragement of folk, roots and ethnic music and related arts. The Ark provides a welcoming atmosphere for all people to listen to, learn about, perform and share music.  Visit for more information.