Wheedle’s Groove, Calvin Johnson, and NighTraiN. Wheedle’s Groove Photo by Steven Schardt / Calvin Johnson Photo by Hillary Harris

Columbia River High School Fiddle Orchestra (Fri 1 pm, Center House Court)

Chances are you won't be seeing two dozen adolescents busting out fiddle renditions of Jay-Z, Rihanna, or Robyn's greatest hits, fiddling until their little fingers bleed. Chances are this will be straight-up fiddle music, meaning each song is nearly indistinguishable from the next. But every accomplished fiddler is like a rural bird of paradise—freakishly cherished and rare. How could you possibly pass up the opportunity to see a whole flock perform? CIENNA MADRID

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Wheedle's Groove (Fri 9:10 pm, Mural Amphitheater)

A 20-plus-strong collective of Seattle soul and funk artists from those genres' 1960s and '70s heyday, Wheedle's Groove keep that flame burning, as if the aging process were merely chimera. Unsung outside of the Northwest during their prime, the players in Wheedle's Groove—including Overton Berry, Robbie Hill, Pastor Patrinell Staten Wright, and Herman Brown—can hold their own with any of the soul/funk titans who became household names in soulful, funky homes worldwide. Now that they're getting their due via releases on the impeccable Light in the Attic Records, Wheedle's Groove make the most of their time in the spotlight. They put on a hell of a dance party. DAVE SEGAL

Ravenna Woods (Fri 9:30 pm, Center Square)

With bearded folk rock being all the rage in the Northwest right now, my telling you that Ravenna Woods might just appeal to fans of Fleet Foxes and the Head and the Heart will make you either roll your eyes and stop reading or cream your pants. (Ew, sorry.) But regardless of how you feel about the current campfire-rock trend, just know that Ravenna Woods are a darker side of that coin—with songs that sound nice while actually being about wanting to kill people (okay, that's just one song, but still). MEGAN SELING

Calvin Johnson (Sat 1:10 pm, Folklife Cafe)

Calvin Johnson is a total weirdo. A lovable weirdo, but a weirdo nonetheless. Seeing as how the man has a number of different projects, both solo and with bands, there's no telling exactly what he'll be doing at Folklife this year. Last year, he hosted a Dolly Parton tribute. And when I saw him at Neumos opening for Ted Leo with his band the Hive Dwellers, he played without any amps or mics. IN NEUMOS. AT A ROCK SHOW. See? Total weirdo. MEGAN SELING

Karl Blau (Sat 2:40 pm, Folklife Cafe)

Perhaps the most crucial member of the K Records family (after honcho Calvin Johnson, of course), Karl Blau is a prolific font of diverse, excellent music—as well as being a producer of other bands and the newest bassist in Earth. Whew, what a multitasker. As a solo artist, Blau writes songs that assimilate folk, bossa nova, dub, drone, R&B, and myriad African styles into indie-rock-friendly contexts. Instead of coming off dilettantish, Blau's music captures his hyperactive mind firing off several brilliant ideas per album. It's no exaggeration to say that he's Washington's Arthur Russell. DAVE SEGAL

Diminished Men (Sat 4:10 pm, Vera Project)

More than any other musicians in Seattle (except for possibly the boss of their label, Abduction Records' Alan Bishop), Diminished Men perpetuate the legacy of soundtrack maestro Ennio Morricone into the 21st century. Which isn't to say Diminished Men are mere pasticheurs of the great Italian composer. Rather, they take inspiration from Morricone's omnivorous compositional approach and masterly ability to establish moods while imbuing their music with an enigmatic and cinematic dread. Add impressive forays into surf guitar and film-noir atmosphere-mongering, and you get what many people with impeccable taste consider Seattle's finest band. DAVE SEGAL

Hobosexual (Sat 5:30 pm, Vera Project)

If Ted Nugent were still relevant (and sexy), he'd have to fight for the honor to be in Hobosexual, a rock band with guitar-heavy, drum-heavy numbers that make you want to dance aggressively. And if all hobos crooned this sweet, I'd have a dozen cherubic hobodumplings nursing 40s and lighting trash fires around my ankles. CIENNA MADRID

The Curious Mystery (Sat 7 pm, Center Square)

One of K Records' most interesting bands, the Curious Mystery—led by vocalist/guitarists Shana Cleveland and Nicolas Gonzalez—take the methodical, meticulous path to your higher mind. On albums like Rotting Slowly and We Creeling, CM create a prettily meandering brand of psych rock that leaves desert dust on your ears and goose bumps all over your body (yes, even there). The group is best when Cleveland (who also plays banjo and autoharp) is on the mic, exuding a stoic charisma amid the slow-motion mind-alteration enacted by her fellow campfire mystics. DAVE SEGAL

Whitney Ballen (Sun 11:45 am, EMP)

Soon we should see the release of Seattle musician Whitney Ballen's new album, White Feathers, White Linens, which has been a long time coming. Since 2008, the delicately voiced Ballen has been carrying around a small tape recorder, capturing song ideas, conversations, and found sounds. After a successful Kickstarter project, she finally got the funds to master the record. Hopefully we'll get a peek at the songs she's been hiding for so long. MEGAN SELING

Levi Fuller (Sun 12:30 pm, Center Square)

This is a guy who gets his mitts into everything. He curates the quarterly anthology Ball of Wax, which is basically a McSweeney's of music. He used to run Softly Now, which was a delightful series of concerts featuring unplugged, quiet music. He's in a country band, and he made a solo album titled Colossal that was my favorite record of 2009. He's always experimenting with songwriting techniques and finding inspiration in weird places (including—full disclosure—a project where I recommend a book to Fuller and three other artists, who will debut songs that respond to the texts in a concert this coming August). All of which is a way of saying I have no idea what Fuller will be doing at this show. I just know it'll be interesting, and fresh, and good. PAUL CONSTANT

Shenandoah Davis (Sun 1:45 pm, Center Square)

When Seattle Rock Orchestra covered Arcade Fire's Funeral (which is the album they should've won a Grammy for, but whatever), orchestra leader Scott Teske smartly enlisted the talented Shenandoah Davis to sing the parts of Regine Chassagne—and Davis absolutely nailed it. In fact, if I could sing like Davis (who's also a member of Grand Hallway, btw), I would never just speak, I would sing every word I ever said. But I sound more like an off-key Gwen Stefani circa 1996. I know to keep my mouth shut and leave the singing to Miss Davis. MEGAN SELING

NighTraiN (Sun 6:25 pm, Vera Project)

Does Seattle have an all-girl, all-black, Afro-punk band that's equal parts riot grrl and classic soul—a self-described "Grace Jones and Mahogany's Love Child in an open relationship" that's invented a genre it calls (choo-choo!) "locomotive punk" that will make you dance and also pump your fist? You bet your sweet ass we do! KELLY O

AudioPoet (Sun 7:45 pm, Vera Project)

Armed with only his mouth and a mic, James "Audio Poet" Burchfield brings forth surround-sound symphonies built of percussive rhythms, sound effects, and white noise, with the improvisational compositions maintaining a quality and integrity that earns his title. Hiphop fans will recognize AudioPoet as a supremely gifted beat boxer. Everyone else will just be amazed. DAVID SCHMADER

Tiny Light (Mon 11 am, Vera Project)

Support The Stranger

Seattle's Tiny Light are one of those rock bands that operate under the notion that listeners have long attention spans and a capacity for brooding, psychedelic excursions that make the Doors' "When the Music's Over" seem like a concise pop ditty. Formerly called Oko Yono (an idea that should never have come to fruition), Tiny Light are masters of the serpentine, opiated jam that swirls and allures like Nag Champa incense. They open your mind in order to pour expansive sounds into it. DAVE SEGAL

Theoretics (Mon 2:15 pm, Mural Amphitheater)

Live hiphop still provokes skepticism among some purists of the genre, but Seattle's Theoretics do their damnedest to quell such doubt. The seven-piece ensemble skillfully raps and sings over intricately arranged, orchestral funk. The songs exude an earnestness and positivity that may rub some the wrong way, but anyone who sympathizes with the do-gooder spirit of local hiphop acts like Macklemore or Blue Scholars will warm to Theoretics' righteous, fist-raising compositions. DAVE SEGAL

Watch It Sparkle (Mon 5 pm, Vera Project)

Who the eff booked Watch It Sparkle at Folklife? I love it! The fest website lists the band as "CFMFP: Contemporary Folk Music/Folk Punk." Folk punk is right. The About section states, "We will eat your children." This is a band that recently made a video for the song "Your Heart Will Throb" that features punk-rock drag queen Jackie Hell as a taco-truck cook who sells tacos made out of dead babies. This said, I think it's safe to take your children to see this band. Just don't let them out of your sight, mmkay? KELLY O

Exohxo (Mon 6:35 pm, Center Square)

With any luck, Exohxo will whip out one of their killer covers for today's set—I've seen them do both Weezer and Bowie, and they were both solid performances, with the songs expertly arranged to include the orchestral-pop act's string section. Their original material is great, too. And as an added bonus, cofrontmen Jasen Samford and Danny Oleson riff off each other like modern (and less-related) Smothers Brothers. Hee-larious! MEGAN SELING

Orkestar Zirkonium (Mon 8:30 pm, Fountain Lawn)

If I were to ask you to combine the words "music" and "chaos," your mind would probably conjure something like a John Zorn explosion of saxophones and squalling guitars, and a marching band of brass instruments probably wouldn't make the top 100 list of ideas. Don't get me wrong; Orkestar Zirkonium are great musicians who can keep a steady beat—even while they're being chased by the cops. But Bach knew that a marvelous trick about music is that you can summon great chaos out of order, and when Orkestar Zirkonium show up, the audience's id comes out to play. You've never had a hornier Gypsy music experience, I can promise you that. PAUL CONSTANT