This year’s lineup is incredibly diverse and remarkably interesting.
Friday line up
Let us start with Friday’s headliner Yola. She went from being homeless to a Grammy award nominee in a brief period of time. She says, “If the first record was about introducing a person who, at a low point, recognized the need to ask for help, this second one illuminates that I’ve been proven through this fire and I’m back to where I started, the real me. I got talked out of being me and now I am here. This is who I have always been in music and in life. There was a little hiatus where I got brainwashed out of my own majesty, but a bitch is back.” The British Black R&B artist says, “It is a paradigm shift.” Her web page says, “And as simply as that, Yola encapsulates the giddy expansiveness, stunning emotional breath, and exponential musical growth of her sophomore album ‘Stand for Myself.’” She possesses an incredible voice that shines in whatever genre she sings in. Should be a wild ride.
Some of my favorites on Friday include Sarah Jarosz a four-time Grammy award winner and ten-time nominee by the age of thirty. She has a captivating voice and does detailed songwriting. Hailing from Texas, she started singing at a noticeably early age and became an accomplished multi-instrumentalist in her early teens. Anyone who heard her join the Punch Brothers at RockyGrass this year knows how good she is.
Rodney Crowell is an icon among songwriters. A native Texan, a multi award-winning troubadour with fifteen number one hits. With more then 40 years of American roots music under his belt, Rodney has been cited as the architect of Americana music. A member of the Nashville’s songwriters Hall of Fame, and one of my personal favorites on the scene today. As many say, Rodney Crowell probably wrote your favorite song.
Saturday line up
Saturday’s headliner is Bruce Hornsby & the Noisemakers; they were supposed to play last year but had to cancel at the last moment. He took the music world by surprise in 2019 with his wide-ranging, and critically acclaimed album “Absolute Zero.” The piano playing, singer, songwriter, and composer has built a unique career since his debut in 1986 with The Range. Hornsby has steered his way though a stint with the Grateful Dead, writing music for Spike Lee’s films, and exploring jazz, bluegrass, and contemporary classical music. He is often quoted as saying, “I’m often looking to make a sound that I haven’t heard before.”
Ani DiFranco is an iconic singer/songwriter and social activist, being an inspiration for woman artists and entrepreneurs for over two decades. Ani has been a Grammy award winner, among other awards, and was named a Champion for Justice by the National Center for Lesbian Rights. She was one of the first to start her own record label in 1990.
This will be one of Robert Earl Keen’s last live tours, as he is retiring September 4th this year. Keen has been touring for 41 years with a catalog of fifteen albums to his credit. He has earned himself living-legend status in the Americana music world. His classic song “The Road Goes on Forever” comes to an end. He plans to stay involved in the music business. Do not miss this talented singer/songwriter’s last Hurrah. I am sure it will be an exceptional live performance.
Carsie Blanton is one I am anxious to hear. She is a sassy old soul, with fun whimsical songs, and a message. Simple music, great lyrics. She delivers every song with moxie and mischief; should be interesting.
Cedric Burnside is the grandson of the blues legend R. L. Burnside. He started playing drums for R.L. He was named Drummer of the Year four years in a row by the International Blues Music Awards. Then he took up the guitar later and was nominated for a Grammy in 2015; and he won in 2022 for best traditional blues album. He still lives outside of Holly Springs in the Hill country of Mississippi where the blues are rough. Cedric was born to the rhythmically unorthodox Hill country variant of the blues. He is the real deal.
Sunday line up
Sunday’s headliner, the Indigo Girls, are the perfect ending to a Folk Festival. Magic unfolded in 1989 with the release of their debut recording, and its sale of two million copies, turning the Indigo Girls into one of the most successful duos in history. Over a thirty five-year career that began in clubs around their native Atlanta, Georgia, the Grammy-winning duo has recorded sixteen studio albums, seven gold, and four platinum. One double platinum sold over fifteen million records and built a dedicated, enduring following. “Look Long Together,” their latest recording, is a one-of-a kind celebration of four decades of indigo Girl’s music and community.
A John Craigie performance is not just a music show, it is a collective experience. Craigie shines by telling candid stories, humorous anecdotes, and leaving everything on stage. Great voice, good stories.
The Wailin’ Jennys are winners of many Juno awards (Canadian Grammys) since their debut in 2004. Their live album in 2009 bottled the lightning of the Jenny’s live performances with show stopping harmonies, impressive instrumentation, breathtaking songs, and, of course, witty stage banter. These gals can really sing well together.
T K & the Holy Know-Nothings from the Portland, Oregon area admit “At our core, we are workings musicians. And that’s why we will always be a bar-band no matter where we play. We are players and that is all we want to do. We live for songs, and we take them very seriously. Even the stupidest ones, it is all sacred.” I like the sound these guys put out. Nothing like a tight bar band, if you ask me.
Chatham Rabbits is a North Carolina duo playing old time music, as if they were in their eighties. You might ask how could two people so well versed in old time music recast it in a way that felt new and fresh. Just listen to them, and you will hear it done.
Tall Tall Trees is a pseudonym of songwriter muti-instrumentalist Mike Savino, and he has toured non-stop, pioneering a world of psychedelic electric banjo, captivating audiences with his loped-based one-man shows.
Enjoy this year’s eclectic music, see ya at the festival.