How about some summer songs? U.S. Folk Festivals for 2009

Summer is beginning its slow but steady descent upon us, which, for us music lovers, means one thing–road trip time.

I.Summer Folk Festivals
A. By location and date
B. Volunteer opportunities/cost
C. Other considerations…
      1. accomodations
      2. other folky events/activities
      3. sunburn
      4. food and drink!

Mind you, I don’t plan to keep perfectly to the outline because we all know that, as in lecture, the tangents are actually what makes the presentation. Think about it–all the interesting classes and sessions you’ve ever had in your life have been so solely because of the completely tangential sidetracks the lecturer has brought to the material, or because of those you were able to create based on the experience. I’m sometimes of the opinion that it’s not the love of learning so much as the love of other people’s anecdotes that keeps people attending school year after year…but, case in point, I digress, so back to the music.

Where to start? How ’bout Canada?
-Each year, Ontario has a festival called “Summerfolk” that takes place in Owen Sound, Ontario…former performers have included Dar Williams, Martin Sexton, Bruce Cockburn, and the inimitable Moxy Fruvous (King of Spain, anyone?) This year it will be from August 14-16th.

-The American Folk Festival will be in Bangor, Maine this summer, and will include The Lost Bayou Ramblers from Lafayette, La, and Lil’ Ed and the Blues Imperials from Chicago, along with several other cool acts from across the country and Canada. August 28-30, 2009.

-Lowell, Massachusetts has the Lowell Folk Festival to offer again from July 24-26 th this summer. This year’s performers include groups playing zydeco and New Orleans jazz, as well as Tuvan throat singers, which, if you’ve never seen, you should most definitely experience before you die…(to get a vague idea of what I’m talking about– check out this piece).

-New York offers many folk festivals of various and sundry sorts, but two offering music can be found in Hillsdale, NY for the Falconridge Folk Festival from July 23-26th, 2009 and, later in the season, the Turtle Hill Folk Festival in Rush, NY, September 11-13th. Both are rather obscure, but remember, the size of one’s name never affects the weight of one’s sound…

-Philadelphia, Pennsylvania will serve up one of the season’s larger, more awesome shows with the Philadelphia Folk Festival in Schwenksville, Pa from August 14-16th. I have one “word” to describe this year’s event: ohmygoshthelineupisincredible. And yes, it gets me that excited. Check it out– Alela Diane, Del McCoury Band, Iron and Wine, Joe Pug, Marissa Nadler, Langhorne Slim, Works Progress and much, much more. All the folk rock you could ever want in your life in roughly two days time. Sigh. The other taking place is the Heart of the Alleghanies Folk Music Festival earlier in August (7-9th) in Bradford, Pa. 

-Traveling further south, “to the land of the pines,” Virginia also has a folk festival recognized by the National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA) that’s been held for the past several years in Richmond. The Richmond Folk Festival will be this October 9-11th, so once the weather gets cooler, but before you “fold your wandering in,”  I urge you to see what the place has to offer.

-Heading westward, Manchester, TN will once again be hosting the Bonnaroo Music Festival June 11-14th. The lineup is lovely, though it does neglect the fact that some major folk rock acts could be included that aren’t…anyway…Wilco, Band of Horses, Gov’t Mule, Bon Iver, Neko Case, Okkervil River, the David Grisman Quintet, and A.A. Bondy are reason enough to go, and if you are more into the heavy hitters like Bruce Springsteen, Phish (now back together since Bush is outta office) and David Bryne, never fear, they’ll be there too.   

The Pitchfork Music Festival will be in Chicago, Illinois this season from July 17-19th. I must confess, as skeptical as I am of my Pitchfork devotee friends, they’re planning a damn good show this summer–Yo La Tengo, The National, Grizzly Bear, the Dutchess and the Duke and more yet to be announced? Delicious. What they’re going to serve up hot in Chicago would keep you warm and satisfied til the Winter Solstice…

-Ozark, Arkansas will offer up the Wakarusa Music Festival , June 4-7th. Yonder Mountain String Band and Joe Purdy definitely catch my folk rock eyes, and having seen Trombone Shorty at the New Orleans House of Blues, I can say he makes my heart flutter more than a little too. Again, if the big names are what get you going, The Black Crowes and Les Claypool (to name a few) will be there too.

-You may well ask yourself, what does Montana have to show for itself? Is the National Folk Festival enough for you? The eclectic lineup includes, if you can believe it, the Jeff Little Trio from Boone, NC. Do you know how big Boone is? If the United States were a deer, Boone wouldn’t even be a good-sized tick on that deer– it might not even be a worthy flea…! Boone would be like, a speck of pollen in the grand scheme of things…but you get the idea, I’m sure, it’s bitty. The festival, in its 71st year, will be held July 10-12th in Butte.


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