2022 Performer Lineup

George Clinton and Parliament FunkadelicSam BushFuturebirdsKaran CaseyQWANQWAMichael Winograd & The Honorable MentshnKaleta & Super Yamba BandBig Bang BoomJeff Little TrioSymphony Unbound featuring Dori Freeman and the Winston-Salem Symphony String QuintetBlack Opry RevueBeauSoleil avec Michael DoucetThe RumbleSoultriiiThe Secret AgencyKiko VillamizarLarry BellorínCaleb Serrano

Not Your Average Folk Contest WinnersCenter City JamsDance @ the Van Dyke

George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic



George Clinton, the legendary and internationally renowned grandfather of funk and founder of the Parliament-Funkadelic collective, was born in Kannapolis, NC in 1941. As a child George moved with his family to New Jersey and formed his first doo-wop group in 1955 – playing school dances and other local social events for 5 years before traveling to Detroit in 1960 to audition for Motown.  While the group was not signed to Motown at that time, George’s writing skills were recognized and he was signed as a staff songwriter at the iconic record label. Influenced by the psychedelic revolution of the late 60’s, George and his group shifted their musical focus…and the rest is history.  Along with James Brown and Sly Stone, George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic are considered one of the most influential innovators of funk music – drawing inspiration from science fiction, creative fashion, and psychedelia.  After decades of touring and inspiring rock, funk, hip-hop, and generations of other artists, George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997 – recognition of their lifetime contributions to creating and making music with a funky groove.


Thank you to the following folks who are directly supporting the presentation of George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic at this year’s festival: Thomas and Jill White; Len and Judy White; Brantley and Jacalyn White; Durant and Mary Katherine Bell; Frank and Lindsey Auman; Seth and Melissa Coker; Rick and Libby Ramsey; Matt and Michele Slaine; David and Erica Worth; John and Missy Fields.

Sam Bush

Bluegrass / Newgrass


Kentucky-born multi-instrumentalist, Sam Bush, is considered an originator of newgrass music, a progressive form of bluegrass that incorporates a variety of genres. Bush has been awarded several GRAMMY Awards and has been recognized for his lifetime achievements as an instrumentalist by the Americana Music Association and the International Bluegrass Music Association.


Thank you to the following folks who are directly supporting the presentation of Sam Bush at this year’s festival: Thomas and Jill White; Len and Judy White; Durant and Mary Katherine Bell; Frank and Lindsey Auman; Adam and Laura Duggins; Sam and Ashley Simpson; Jon Worth; John and Missy Fields.


Indie Rock


Futurebirds carry forward a legacy of bands rooted in the innovative live music scene of Athens, Georgia. Over the course of their career, they have successfully created a unique musical voice that defies any single genre classification. Their signature sound – a blend of rock, country, pop, and Americana (among other styles) – showcases the sonic reverberations of the pedal steel guitar; while their relatable original songs share tales from everyday life at home and on the road.


Thank you to the following folks who are directly supporting the presentation of Futurebirds at this year’s festival: Thomas and Jill White; Durant and Mary Katherine Bell; Brantley and Jacalyn White; John and Missy Fields; Will and Carrie Stewart; Matt and Mary Katherine McInnis; Phillip and Lesslie Ray.

Karan Casey

Irish Music & Song


Singing songs charged with a sense of social responsibility in a career spanning over 25 years, Karan Casey draws inspiration from a wide range of sources from the personal to the historical and political, touching on themes of family, loss, love, the empowerment of women and Irish revolutionary struggle. Karan will be joined by Niamh Dunne on fiddle and vocals, and guitarist and accordionist Sean Óg Graham.



Music of Ethiopia & East Africa


QWANQWA is a supergroup of musicians from Addis Ababa. Brought together by a shared passion for the power of Ethiopian music, this group shines an experimentalism based in the virtuosity of rooted traditions. They draw inspiration from East African regions in and around Ethiopia, delving deep into regional beats and moods that ranges from a trance-like song of the Eritrean tribe of Blen to a Somalian rock number to Mahmoud Ahmed sing-a-longs.


Presentation of this artist sponsored by:

Triad Financial Advisors

Michael Winograd & The Honorable Mentshn

Jewish Klezmer


Klezmer is the traditional celebratory music of the Eastern European Jewish diaspora. With roots that pre-date the Middle Ages, Klezmer incorporates cantorial melody, ancient folk tunes, Yiddish poetry, Hebraic ritual, and Greek and Ottoman influences. The all-star lineup of Michael Winograd & the Honorable Mentshn is leading a revival of Klezmer into the 21st century. The band—whose name plays on the plural form of the Yiddish approbation “mentsh,” meaning a person of integrity, is the brainchild of Brooklyn clarinet virtuoso and band leader, Michael Winograd.


Kaleta & Super Yamba Band

Afrobeat from West Africa


Kaleta & Super Yamba Band are fronted by Afrobeat and Juju veteran Leon Ligan-Majek a.k.a. Kaleta. The singer/guitarist from the West African country of Benin Republic lived his adolescent life in Lagos, Nigeria where Afrobeat was born. Now based in New York City, Kaleta has been leading Super Yamba Band since 2017. The group’s sound draws on the members’ shared reverence for the raw, psychedelic sounds that captivated Kaleta as a music loving kid in 1970s Benin. Kaleta is the only guitarist on earth to have backed both Fela Kuti & King Sunny Ade and with more than 40 years in afrobeat, he’s a veteran of the genre.


Big Bang Boom

Family Pop / Rock


Big Bang Boom is a pop/rock music group from Greensboro, NC that writes and plays parent-friendly children’s music with a pop sensibility. Led by North Carolina native Chuck Folds, they have toured the US playing performing arts centers, schools, libraries, and children’s museums.


Jeff Little Trio

Blue Ridge Piano


Jeff Little is an award-winning musician from the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. With few exceptions the piano does not play a prominent part in Americana or Appalachian music and is rarely the lead instrument. But Jeff Little is an exception and has not only been recognized as a critically acclaimed musician but also a true music innovator. Jeff is an inductee to the Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame and is Artist in Residence for the Popular Music Program at Catawba College in Salisbury, NC. Rounding out the trio with Jeff are Steve Lewis (guitar and banjo) and Luke Little (mandolin).


Presentation of this artist sponsored by:

Triad Financial Advisors

Symphony Unbound featuring Dori Freeman and the Winston-Salem Symphony String Quintet

Appalachia Music & Song w/ String Quintet


Steeped in the mountain music of Southwest Virginia, Dori Freeman is a multifaceted artist who defies and expands the notions of being a musician from that region – creating her own signature sound through songwriting and performing in a wide variety of musical styles.  Dori will perform with the Winston-Salem Symphony String Quintet as part of their Symphony Unbound series, an initiative to bring music out of the concert hall and into the community, collaborating with musicians from other genres.  This performance of Symphony Unbound with Dori Freeman is co-presented with the Blue Ridge Music Center.


Dori Freeman (Duo Set)

Appalachia Music & Song


Dori Freeman is about as bona fide as an Appalachian artist can be: she was raised among a family of musicians in the mountains of Southwest Virginia. The fourth studio album and most recent release, Ten Thousand Roses, from the Galax, Virginia based singer-songwriter showcases an artist who has cemented an inimitable signature sound while establishing her capabilities within a  wide variety of styles. Her soaring alto and singular style are on fine display throughout this collection of nine originals and one cover.


Black Opry Revue featuring Nikki Morgan, Autumn Nicholas, Tae Lewis, Chris Pierce, and Aaron Vance



Black Opry is a home for and collective of Black artists and Black fans of Country, Blues, folk, and Americana music. Country music has been made and loved by Black people since its conception. For just as long, Black artists have been overlooked and disregarded in Country music by fans and executives. Black Opry seeks to change that – inviting audiences to discover, support, and enjoy the Black artists that make magic in this musical space. One of the most valuable aspects of Country music is its versatility and diversity in sound. Country, Blues, folk, and Americana music often overlap and weave together; these artists explore all of those sounds and intersections. Black Opry Revue will feature 5 unique voices on stage together in a songwriter-in-the-round format, as well as in solo performances shining a light on each individual artist.


Nikki Morgan Greensboro, NC
As the daughter of a minister and kin to a lot of church folk Nikki grew up listening to traditional gospel/christian music and spent much of her grade school days involved in school band playing clarinet and oboe. But, despite her early exposure to music, it wasn’t until the tender age of 28 when she finally began to start making music of her own. Nikki was born and raised in North Carolina but Chicago is where she found her first home as a performer and songwriter. Nikki finds a way to combine captivating melodies and insightful lyrics with a voice full of raw passion.  Her music is unapologetic in its efforts to grapple with real life; and yet elegantly embodies the essence of her “Carolina Soul”.

Autumn Nicholas Raleigh, NC
Autumn Nicholas is a gifted songwriter and performer who has amazed audiences around the country. Reminiscent of the singer/songwriter sensibility of Julia Michaels and the swagger of Kacey Musgraves, with the warmth of Adele and the soul of Etta James, Autumn Nicholas’ lyrics and melodies tell stories. Stories about love, pain, loss, and hope. She seamlessly blends pop alternative melodies that become part of your daily playlist. Her textured vocals create imagery that brings the listener in, so they feel that her journey is their journey. She is an award-winning artist and performer that connects with fans in large venues and small intimate performances. Her latest single, Dealing, showcases her vocal range and lyrical sensibilities with pop infused, soulful melodies and displays a raw, honest, and emotional storytelling style that brings listeners on her journey as if it were their own. 

Tae Lewis Goldsboro, NC
Emerging Country singer/songwriter, Tae Lewis does not sell short when it comes to his creation of music. Growing up, the North Carolina native started singing in the church but deep inside country music was his first love. Though he has faced many adversities, he still strives to make his presence known in this industry. When record labels turned him away, he still made an effort to push through the trials and begin to create his own path to stardom. On diversity in country music, Lewis says, “A lot of times, our society sticks to what is traditional and is never deciding to move from it. It is important that I do my job by creating an outlet for more country singers to feel as though they can be able to endure the struggle”.

Chris Pierce Goldsboro, NC
Hailing from Pasadena, California, Chris Pierce grew up singing in church and playing in bands. From an early age he listened to classic soul, rhythm and blues, jazz, gospel and rock and roll recordings. At age 15, Chris Pierce developed a rare hearing disorder called Otosclerosis that led to the loss of hearing in one ear and partial deafness in the other, a setback that would deter many young musicians forever. The reality, however, fueled Chris’ passion and determination all the more, forcing him to re-learn almost everything he had known prior to his condition. To Chris, music was, and still is, an unconditional companion.
Blessed with a soaring, church-built vocal range, Pierce has been all over the scene for the past 15 years. Discovered by Seal while attending USC, the indie, folk and blues singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist has kept the rubber hot, touring 150 days a year while sharing the stage with such artists as Jill Scott, Al Green, Robert Cray, and Toots and the Maytals.

Aaron Vance Amory, MS
Aaron Vance got his first pair of cowboy boots at the age of 4 and began singing in the church his father pastored by the time he was 6. His truck-driving grandfather doted on his only grandson and Aaron remembers hearing country music sitting beside “Big Daddy” in his green and white crackerbox cab or on his tractor. The family moved frequently when Aaron was a boy, settling in Mooreville, 6 miles East of Tupelo, when he was 13. Often the “new kid” at school, he was teased by peers for his strong country bias but believes that the experience taught him self-reliance and how to forge his own way. Aaron began visiting Nashville in 2012 and made the move permanent in August 2014.  With his powerful vocal talent and strong personal charisma, Aaron Vance is a compelling musical artist, confident and comfortable in his own skin.

BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet



For the past 40 years, BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet has been making some of the most potent and popular Cajun music on the planet. Born out of the rich Acadian ancestry of its members, and created and driven by bandleader Michael Doucet, BeauSoleil is notorious for bringing even the most staid audience to its feet. Their distinctive sound derives from the distilled spirits of New Orleans jazz, blues rock, folk, swamp pop, Zydeco, country and bluegrass, captivating listeners from the Jazz and Heritage Festival in New Orleans to Carnegie Hall.

Since becoming the first Cajun band to win a GRAMMY with “L’amour Ou La Folie” and then a second GRAMMY in 2010, “Live at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival”, BeauSoleil has garnered many accolades, including twelve GRAMMY nominations. They are regular guests on Garrison Keillor’s NPR show “A Prairie Home Companion,” where Keillor has dubbed them as “the best Cajun band in the world,” and their music is so integral to the Cajun culture that they have been featured on the New Orleans–based hit HBO program Treme.

In 2005, Michael Doucet was recognized for his lifetime achievements as a performer, composer, and bandleader by the National Endowment for the Arts with the National Heritage Fellowship – the highest honor awarded by our nation to folk and traditional artists.


The Rumble

Mardi Gras Indian Funk from New Orleans


The Rumble feat. Chief Joseph Boudreaux Jr. is New Orleans’ premier Mardi Gras Indian Funk ensemble, representing the legacy and preservation of NOLA music and Black masking culture. Through their authentic Big Easy brass sound fused with deep Funk and Black masking street culture, The Rumble gives audiences a full-on New Orleans experience.

The group was created in 2021 by seven members of multi-Grammy-nominated band Cha Wa. After its mass exodus, the collective vowed to both preserve and further its musical vision that blends New Orleans culture from past, present and future. Fronted by Second Chief Joseph Boudreaux Jr. of the legendary Golden Eagles Indian Tribe, The Rumble boasts some of the next generation’s most prolific artists.

The Rumble continues the legacy of Mardi Gras Indian funk, which was pioneered in part by Boudreaux’s father Big Chief Monk Boudreaux with the Wild Magnolias. The younger Boudreaux is a Grammy-nominated singer himself and a well respected leader of the Black Masking Indian community.



Soul, R&B


Rooted in Greensboro, NC, Soultriii (pronounced “sultry”) transcends any single genre. Through their vocal harmonies, they express deep desire and soul; their instrumentation is imbued with influences from several styles of music including R&B, Neo-Soul, Pop, and Rock, among others.


The Secret Agency

Family Soul & Hip-Hop


Combining the positive, primal power of hip-hop with the surreal storytelling of science fiction, The Secret Agency concocts a potent potion that wows family crowds across the planet.

Led by GRAMMY award-winning 23 Skidoo, the ingredients of the group’s magic spells include reverence for the boundless mind-states of young children, respect for the culture and DNA of hip-hop, funk, and soul music, and a deep belief in the power of the imagination to change the world in positive ways, both personal and universal.

If you can imagine a band with Jim Henson on guitar, Shel Silverstein on bass and PIXAR as the lead vocalist, you’ve pretty much got it. And if George Clinton and Q Tip stopped by the party, that might clarify things even more. Basically, if Dr. Seuss and Dr. Dre had a baby, it would be the music of Secret Agent 23 Skidoo. Nuff said.


Kiko Villamizar

Colombian Cumbia & Gaita


Kiko Villamizar was born to Colombian parents in Miami and was taken as a small child back to Colombia where he was raised on a coffee farm outside of Medellin. After growing up in a time of war in Medellin, He moved to Miami to study jazz and quickly started to travel and learn rhythms and musical possibilities. Currently touring to promote his third album “Todo el Mundo” , it is a psychedelic fusion of the sounds of the Colombian forest, and the healthy sweat of the Caribbean. Using Gaitas and Colombian hand drums, Kiko’s 5 piece ensemble will always make you shake what your mama gave ya.


Larry Bellorín

Venezuelan Harp


Larry Bellorín grew up in Punta de Mata in the state of Monagas, Venezuela. His mother, a poor farmworker, raised him. By age 6, he became a shoe shiner and built a faithful clientele by singing as he polished, taking requests for the popular Vallenatos of the day. Larry’s first instrument was the cuatro, a 4-string guitar with Spanish roots central to the Venezuelan identity and typically the first instrument a folk musician is taught there.

After filling in on cuatro for a friend on a gig at a local pizzeria, Larry met internationally acclaimed harpist Urbino Ruiz, affectionately known as the King of the Strong Harp. He began studying Llano harp with him and after only a month had a repertoire of 40 songs. “I played so much, I would wake up hunched over my harp,” he recalls. Larry went on to accompany countless Venezuelan musical luminaries including Cristina Maica, Teo Galindez, and Rumi Olivo.

In 2012 Venezuela began to collapse; poverty and violence reached unprecedented extremes, and new political realities threatened Larry and his family’s lives. He decided to go to the United States in search of work and asylum for his family. He arrived with only thirty dollars and slept on the floor of an unfurnished room while doing construction day labor. Having faced political persecution, they were able to open a case for asylum. Larry has endured wage theft and several work site injuries but continues to look to the future with hope. In early 2022, he formed a musical partnership with Joe Troop: Larry & Joe. The two are due to record an album this month to be released January 2023 and are already touring extensively.


Caleb Serrano



Caleb is a young gospel artist from North Carolina. Caleb’s gospel career began when a video of him singing at a church event went viral on social media.

The story was soon picked up by ABC World Nightly News. From there the world soon started calling. Caleb has had numerous appearances on multiple Network platforms Steve Harvey Little Big Shots show, Harry Connick Jr show , TCT Network and 700Club.

During the last few years Caleb has shared the stage and toured with some of today’s greatest Gospel Stars and Legends. Kirk Franklin, Shirley Caesar, Travis Greene, Pastor John P Kee &  Tamela Mann just to name a few.

Today Caleb’s main focus is to continue sharing his gift and the Gospel of Christ through song and praise wherever he goes.


Not Your Average Folk Contest Winners


Anna Vtipil – 1st Place Prize Winner

Anna Vtipil is a singer-songwriter, composer, and pianist based in Raleigh, North Carolina. In her songs she explores harmonically complex and rhythmically asymmetrical textures with a connection to intimate and emotional lyrics. She is a pianist and vocalist accompanied by Lora Mouna and Clara Lampkin on vocals, as well as Hanna Fishastion (cello) and Gracie Zielinski (violin) on strings. The group formed at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and performs Vtipil’s original songs together at school concerts throughout the year.



The Zinc Kings – 2nd Place Prize Winner

The Zinc Kings are a progressive folk and string-band based in North Carolina, founded after recognizing a mutual love for community-oriented music. Equally at home on festival stages and busking on street corners, the group has been a mainstay in the Greensboro area since 2012. The Zinc Kings have been awarded top prizes at traditional music festivals, including the Mount Airy, Happy Valley, Union Grove, Fiddler’s Grove, and Hoppin’ John Fiddlers Conventions. They have been featured performers at the Eastern Music Festival Chamber Crawl, the Charlie Poole Festival, the Piedmont Council of Traditional Music, Greensboro’s MUSEP Concert Series, the Folk Alliance International Conference, and the North Carolina Folk Festival Music Spots. The Zinc Kings have collaborated on theater projects with Raleigh Little Theater, Bare Theater, and RhinoLeap Productions. Individually, the Zinc Kings are sought-after musicians but are perhaps at their best, and most entertaining, when playing together.



The Travis Williams Group – 3rd Place Prize Winner

The Travis Williams Group is a world music ensemble focusing on a fusion of traditional Arabic music with jazz, modern classical music, rock, and world music. The group consists of Travis Williams- Oud/Compositions, Kinard Douthit- Flute, Leroy Plock-Piano, Ken Simonds- Bass Guitar, and Bill Smith- Percussion. Travis Williams plays the Oud, a fretless 11 string lute. His love of the instrument led him to study traditional Arabic music and the theories of Maqam. Soon, he began composing his own unique take on the Arabic tradition. Drawing from his experience as a jazz and classical bassist he began to weave those elements into his compositions. The Travis Williams Group was created as an outlet to perform and breathe life into his compositions. Once formed the group began making the music their own by infusing each individual’s influences from the world of rock, classical, jazz, and world music. A truly unique ensemble that captures and holds the listeners’ attention.


Dance @ the Van Dyke


Korean Fan Dance (Bu-chae-chum) led by Jiwon Ha

Fan dance is one of many Korean traditional dances that have been performed for centuries. In this class, participants will learn a modern-day form of the dance using fans to create natural shapes such as flowers, butterflies, and waves.

Born and raised in Busan, South Korea, Jiwon teaches and trains in multiple forms of dance – contemporary, ballet, modern, and Korean folk dance. That passion for dance has allowed her to dance, train, choreograph, and organize events in the U.S., Canada, and South Korea. She’s currently a dance professor at Elon University and an Artist in Residence with Dance Project, and is excited to share Korean dance with Greensboro.


Afro-Rhythms – led by Milanda Y. McGinnis

This class is a high-energy & fun way to explore contemporary and traditional West African movement styles.

Milanda Y. McGinnis (Knoxville, Tn) holds a B.F.A. in Theater with a concentration in Dance from the University of Memphis. In Greensboro, she has performed with Cyrus Art Production, as well as several seasons with SugarFoote Productions under the direction of Robin Gee. She specializes in contemporary and jazz, both influenced by her West African dance background. She is currently on staff at Dance Project, Rehearsal Director and a collaborator for JOYEMOVEMENT Dance Company, and adjunct dance faculty at Winston Salem State University. Milanda is also a certified yoga and meditation instructor and the owner of SoulFlower Wellness NC.


Salsa – led by Lisa Hines

Lisa M. Hines is a Choreographer, Artist and Community Supporter of Latin social dance movements and styles. Lisa recently moved from Little Rock, Arkansas, where she directed a Latin social community focusing on dance styles such as Salsa, Bachata and Kizomba. Through this directing experience and coordinating three Latin performance groups that traveled the U.S. (Las Damas Shines, Downtown Delinquentes, and Ke’Loke Performance Group), she dove into the exploration of partner dances and unconventional dance classrooms. Lisa studied Sociology at Ouachita Baptist University while attending Henderson State University, where she studied dance forms such as Modern Ballet and Contemporary. Lisa has recently made Greensboro her home and is continuing her exploration of Latin social dances as a second-year M.F.A. graduate student at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro Dance Department.


J-Setting – led by Jaleel Cheek

Originating in Jackson Mississippi, J-Setting/Majorette is a mix of street jazz, hip hop, and gymnastics while often incorporating a call and response rhythm.

Born and raised in Lexington, North Carolina, Jaleel Cheek has fostered his passion for dance since age seven.  In his hometown studio, Jaleel began taking technique classes during high school and went on to study Dance and Performance at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. After college, he went on to become a professional dancer/choreographer, best known for touring with reality TV star Mo Heart of VH1, and Amazon Prime. His passion is sharing his gift of dance and movement to the world.


House Dance – led by Eli Motley

Elijah started his dance career at Old Dominion University while working towards a Bachelors of Science in Civil/Environmental Engineering. In 2015, Elijah joined a Hip Hop company called Baila Fusion where he began learning Breaking, Popping, House, and Krump. His studies took him to Israel for a summer semester to Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company and New York City to study Gaga movement. After graduation he performed three seasons as a company dancer for Chicago Dance Crash and became a freelance performer/choreographer in the Chicago area. Eli also taught Breaking, Popping, House, Modern and yoga at various studios in the city and conventions around the country. He has been commissioned to set choreography by various companies, taught at studios and public schools in Chicago, and co-founded a dance collective called Concepts Dances.



Irish Step Dancing – led by Colleen King / Walsh Kelly School of Dance

Walsh Kelley School of dance teaches traditional Irish step dancing.  The students perform and compete at local, regional and national competitions as well as the world Irish Dance Championships.  Walsh Kelley holds over fifty 1st place regional titles as well as numerous top places at national and international competitions. Besides learning traditional Irish dance, students make friendships and have learned skills that go beyond dancing and proven to be invaluable many years later. We would like to help find the dancer in you!


E. Gwynn Dancers


Center City Jams

Community Programming


Healing Earth Rhythms – a commUNITY Drum Circle
led by Billy “Two Rivers” Hunt and Robin Leftwich of Happy Beats Drumming

We are the gathering of drums from all Nations, Tribes, and Cultures for CommUnity in holding space for drumming, singing, chatting, dancing, and Healing! This is cooperation between many individuals with different backgrounds, heritage, and traditions, but become unified as One People and One LOVE for ALL, together with the rhythms of the drums. These individuals have been holding such drumming space for many, many years either publicly or on private land, which still continues. In doing so we are like the plants growing towards the Light in the direction of our greatest fulfillment through drumming Peace, Love, and Unity into our CommUnity with HEALING EARTH RHYTHMS!


Jazz-Fusion Jam – led by UnheardProjectGSO

This is a groove-based jam with influence ranging from jazz, gospel, funk, and R&B. The Unheard project is a jazz fusion collective of some of the most talented full-time musicians in the Piedmont. Their music brings people of different ages, ethnicities, social backgrounds, and tastes together in a celebration of soulful sounds guaranteed to get your head nodding, foot tapping, and face beaming. The Unheard Project started in October 2020 with the recording of their album, “Unheard”. The collective is passionate about seeing that full-time professional musicians in North Carolina secure livable wages without having to relocate to bigger markets. Currently, The Unheard Project has a residency at Revolution Mill in Greensboro on the second Friday of every month (through November 2022).


Beat Cypher – led by TheGentlemanBoss

For NC Folk Festival’s first ever Beat Cypher, Beat makers and MCs are invited to share original music and mixes as well as improvised verses. More than a musician, TheGentlemanBoss is a sonic artist and music therapist from Baltimore, MD. A conservatory trained guitarist, TheGentlemanBoss incorporates samples and electronic instrumentation to create sonic portraits. He draws inspiration from artists such as MF Doom, Dibia$e, and Roy Ayers. TheGentlmanBoss can be found on all major streaming platforms. As a Music Therapist, Christian is the founder of B.E.A.T.T. Space or Bringing Expressive Arts Therapies Together. This Music Therapy practice seeks to make wellness and music-making more accessible to all. For more information about Music Therapy visit Beattspace.com.


Honky Tonk Jam – led by Mark Dillon

Mark Dillon is a musician / educator born and raised in Rolling Prairie, Indiana, which is every bit as remote as it sounds. His earliest memory is of sitting on Dolly Parton’s lap at his great uncle’s country western radio show. He’s played country music since his childhood and is currently a professor teaching Commercial Music and Songwriting at GTCC and UNCG. He hosts bi-weekly honky-tonk jams in North Carolina and is really looking forward to hosting this one at the North Carolina Folk Festival.


Back Beat Blues Jam – led by Piedmont Blues Preservation Society

The Backbeat Blues Jam is a regular program hosted by the Piedmont Blues Preservation Society that builds community by creating a weekly space in a local venue where the oral tradition of teaching and playing Blues music is taught and shared. Venues are able to make donations that allow us to provide free community access, with entertainment value, to Blues performance as cultural exposure.


African Drum Workshop – led by Atiba Rorie

Atiba Rorie has been playing percussion instruments since he was a young child. He currently holds a BA in Music from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and has also studied with Babatunde Olatunji, Fahali Igbo, Bradley Simmons, Chief Bey, and The National Dance Ensemble of Ghana in a one month intensive in Accra, Ghana, and a one month intensive study in Guinea, West Africa. He has taught at Winston Salem State University and Guilford College. He currently is the Dance music coordinator UNC Greensboro. He is the founder of the dynamic band Africa Unplugged. Rorie is also a musician within various professional ensembles; with these ensembles he has performed at many venues including Dance Africa in New York, Tedx Greensboro, National Black Arts Festival, Black Dance USA, and two Presidential Inauguration Celebrations. In 2005 Rorie was invited to participate in a Drums of Passion Tribute to Babatunde Olatunji at the Percussive Arts Society International Conference. Rorie has been a guest artist at CaldCluegh Community Center, Duke University, High Point University, Agnes Scott College, Williams College, Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival, Black College Dance Exchange, North Carolina School of the Arts, and Radford University.


Irish Seisiún- led by Gavin Douglas

Gavin Douglas is a multi-instrumentalist who has been hosting Irish Sessions in North Carolina for twenty years. Originally from Canada, Gavin is an ethnomusicologist at UNC Greensboro where he specializes in Celtic and Southeast Asian music traditions.


Folk Song and Old-Time Jam – led by Christen Blanton

Christen Blanton is a prize-winning traditional musician and committed arts educator. Her band, The Zinc Kings, have been performing traditional and original music together since 2010; they have won top prizes at fiddle festivals across North Carolina and been featured at the Eastern Music Festival Chamber Crawl, the Charlie Poole Festival, the Piedmont Council of Traditional Music, the Folk Alliance International Conference, and the North Carolina Folk Festival Music Spots. As the director of the Old-Time Ensemble at UNC-Greensboro, Christen has taught and mentored students of traditional music since 2016. She is an in-demand educator and clinician, presenting workshops and research at the North Carolina Music Educators Association (NCMEA) Conference, the American String Teachers Association (ASTA) National Conference, the North Atlantic Fiddle Convention (NAFCo), and the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) International Conference. Christen is the Orchestra Director at the Academy at Lincoln in Greensboro, NC where she also teaches Music Production and leads the Global Music Ensemble. When she is not fiddling or teaching, she enjoys hiking, camping, and gardening with her husband, bassist Ryan Mack, and their dog Gordon.


Bluegrass Jam – led by Clyde Lewis

Clyde Lewis resides in the triad area of NC . He plays mandolin, guitar, dobro, stand up bass and is a founding member of Hotwax and the Splinters Bluegrass band. Originally from Detroit , it didn’t take him long to find his Bluegrass roots with a family that includes his Uncle Ralph Lewis, who once toured with Bill Monroe, the Father of Bluegrass!

Steeped in traditional bluegrass, as well as his own Originals, Clyde runs Bluegrass Jams around the Triad weekly.  Pickers come from all over the southeast, to join his jams! His energy is second to none and you’re sure to feel it when you join his jam circle!

Folk Fest Music Spots

Music Spots Schedule

Friday, September 9, 2022

  • 9 PM-12 AM: The Swamproots at Little Brother Brewing

Saturday, September 10, 2022

  • 11 AM-1:30 PM: Justin Reid at Deep Roots Market
  • 3 PM-5 PM: Jeff Wysosky at Little Brother Brewing
  • 9 PM-12 AM: The Fundamentals at Little Brother Brewing

Sunday, September 11, 2022

  • 12 PM-3 PM: Joshua Kendrick at Vintage to Vogue

Sponsored by Downtown Greensboro, Inc.

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