Two outstanding performances highlight this year’s Allen Folk Festival. Mike Carroll and the Blues Evolution will kick off this popular annual event, followed by Beyond the Pale for a stirring second act. This free program is at 7:30 pm Friday, September 30, at the Allen Public Library.

Mike Carroll and the Blues Evolution is a local musical project dedicated to telling the story of American popular music as it evolved from its European folk and African-American blues roots to jazz and rock. Mr. Carroll (mandolin, guitar, vocals) formed the group with his son Peter Carroll (saxophone, guitar, vocals) and musicians Ron Hampton (harmonica) and Sam Baker (guitar, vocals). For the Allen Folk Festival, the group will perform five songs that demonstrate the progression of American popular music. This will be accompanied by a slide presentation and narration to help tell the story from its primitive roots in simple pentatonic melodies through its fusion with African-American 'blue notes' to spawn full-throated blues and jazz tunes. Mr. Carroll studied musical composition and taught classical guitar in Germany as young man, and in the 1970s he toured with the American string band Hogwood. His son Peter Carroll has soloed and competed at highest levels of competition in high school and junior college in California.

Sam Baker is an accomplished singer-songwriter who performs a wide variety of styles, from folk to jazz, at many North Texas venues. Ron Hampton plays jazz on the chromatic harmonica. Then celebrate the charm and excitement of folk culture with the Celtic and folk band Beyond the Pale. This group cooks up a tasty acoustic stew on fiddle, flute, hammered dulcimer, accordion, guitar, bodhran, whistle, concertina and saxophone.

With six CDs, Beyond the Pale strives to reflect the musical connections between European immigrants and the roots of American music, from Appalachian to Cajun and even Tejano and Texas Swing. Guitarist and percussionist Christy McLeod notes, “Beyond The Pale always hopes that a part of our music resonates to some internal connection with our listeners, whether it be a fast-paced set of Irish jigs or a plaintive ballad.” Beyond the Pale has performed at the North Texas Irish Festival in Dallas since 1977 and for the last ten years, they have played for the Texas Scottish Festival and Highland Games in Arlington.

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