Today, the North Carolina Folk Festival announced the addition of nine artists who will appear at the festival the weekend of September 6-8 in downtown Greensboro.
A large-scale outdoor event, the North Carolina Folk Festival celebrates the rich diversity of America’s roots and heritage, as well as North Carolinian and regional traditions. The performers announced today hail from many backgrounds and diverse roots and sounds—from Old-Time and Blues to stunning Brazilian Samba, Scottish, and Punjabi folk songs.
Each artist offers their individual take on a blend of musical inspirations. Rarely is one genre uninfluenced by another, and every artist is distinguished in their inspirations, style, and presentation. The wide range of performers and genres is purposeful—it is important that the festival has a lineup that both represents the multicultural communities within the city and introduces new genres to the crowd at large.
“We want people to see themselves on stage,” Amy Grossmann, Director of the N.C. Folk Festival, said. “We want them to know that this event is for everyone.”
The artists announced today include:
- North Mississippi Allstars (Southern Rock & Blues) – from Hernando, MS
Brothers Luther and Cody Dickinson, the core members of the North Mississippi Allstars, grew up just south of Memphis and cut their teeth playing experimental Rock & Roll together, as well as the roots repertoire pioneered by their father, Jim Dickinson, a legendary producer and session player. Their community was one of collaboration, and the music of the sound of modern Mississippi has been an inspiration for the group. As Cody puts it, “It’s all inclusive. Everyone is invited, the bar is always open, and drinks are on the house. But it’s important to us that we stay true to the vision of Hill Country music.” Their music incorporates their father’s concept of roots music as a framework for improvisation and blending experimental/psychedelic excursions into Hill Country anthems.
- The New Smokey Valley Boys (NC Old-Time) – from Mt. Airy, NC
The New Smokey Valley Boys are a group of young men who have come together to honor one of old time music’s greatest string bands. The original group based out of Surry County, NC, was led by the late Benton Flippen and Paul Sutphin from the 1970s all the way through to Flippen’s death in 2011. Though various members came and went, the group was known for its hard driving square dance style, and received numerous awards over the decades. This group is dedicated to reviving a particular sound that once dominated the old time scene.
- Kim Weitkamp (Storyteller) – from Mount Vernon, OH
Kim Weitkamp grew up as the red-headed middle child of exhausted parents. Kim carved out her role as the class comedian at a young age, writing plays and skits and sharing stories that exasperated her parents while thrilling her high school theater teacher. One review stated, “Kim is a master at seamlessly building bridges from story to song to story. Like all good storytellers, she evokes both laughter and tears, but her impeccable timing and dead-on anticipation of her listeners’ needs place her at the pinnacle of her craft. Then she pulls her guitar out and you think, where did that come from, that milk and honey voice?” It’s all about the people for Kim. People are walking, talking stories, and she is no different.
- Kiran Ahluwalia (Ghazal and Punjabi folk songs from India and Pakistan) – from India by way of New York City, NY
Kiran Ahluwalia is a modern exponent of the great vocal traditions of India and Pakistan which she honors intensely yet departs from in masterful, personal ways. “I’ve taken aesthetics I love such as blues, Malian styles, and of course Indian forms and mashed them together in my own way,” explains Ahluwalia. She creates boundary-breaking songs that invite us to explore the human condition, transcending the self by losing ourselves in a trance of groove and melody.
The performance of Kiran Ahluwalia at the 2019 N.C. Folk Festival is presented by XPO Logistics.
- Anya Hinkle (“Appalachiacana” Singer/Songwriter) – from Asheville, NC
Originally from the mountains of southwest Virginia, Anya Hinkle has developedas a notable songwriter with her Asheville NC-based “Appalachiacana” band Tellico. Steeped in the tones of bluegrass and folk but seasoned by travels across the world and back, Hinkle has toured regionally, nationally, and internationally for over a decade. At this year’s MerleFest, Hinkle took home first place in the 2019 Chris Austin Songwriting Contest in the Bluegrass category with “Ballad of Zona Abston,” a song based on a true story of a woman who grew up in a mining town in middle Tennessee.
- Grandfather Mountain Highlanders Pipe Band (Scottish-American Pipe Band) – based in Linville, NC
The Grandfather Mountain Highlanders Pipe Band is a competition band striving to achieve the highest levels of performance at sanctioned competitions in the South, the Eastern U.S., Canada, and Scotland. Founded in 1974, this year is their 45th anniversary of the widely acclaimed group. Members of the band often comment on its “family feel,” and close-knit nature of the group. Composed of many talented players of all ages, and the band seeks to pass on Scottish American history and heritage to younger generations through music.
- NC Brazilian Arts Project (Brazillian Samba & Capoeira) – from Charlotte, NC
The NC Brazilian Arts Project was founded in 2016 by Brazilian culture aficionados in the Charlotte and the Triangle areas. The NCBAP promotes and enriches the North Carolina arts community their knowledge of and passion for Brazilian folkloric movement forms such as Samba, Afro-Brazilian Dance, Capoeira, Maculelê and percussion. The NC BAP envisions creating a culture of inclusivity while also underlining the importance of valuing the discipline required of the performance arts.
- Phil Wiggins Blues House Party (Piedmont Blues and House Party Dance) – from Takoma Park, MD and Washington, DC
Phil Wiggins spent childhood summers at his grandmother’s house in Alabama, where in church he absorbed the sounds of traditional call-and-response hymn singing. Attracted to blues harmonica as a young man, he began his performing career and is now considered one of the nation’s top harmonica players. Wiggins is a versatile traditional harmonica player, continuing the Piedmont blues tradition, a gentle and melodic blues style of the mid-Atlantic region. He is a two time winner of the prestigious WC Handy award. Wiggins is also a recipient of the NEA National Heritage Fellowship and one of only three harmonica players to receive the honor. Wiggins will be joined by dancer and choreographer, Junious “House” Brickhouse who is the founder and executive director of Urban Artistry, a Washington D.C.-based organization dedicated to the performance and preservation of art forms inspired by the urban experience.
- Claire Lynch Band (Bluegrass) – based in Toronto, Ontario
Long recognized and praised as a creative force in acoustic music, Claire Lynch is a pioneer who continually pushes the boundaries of the bluegrass genre. Her career has been decorated with many accolades including three GRAMMY nominations. As one observer writes, “Listening to Claire Lynch sing is not something to be undertaken casually. […] She’s an intensely soulful singer, whose distinctive voice resonates with power and strength, yet retains an engaging innocence and crystalline purity. She’s also a songwriter of extraordinary ability who can bring listeners to their feet…or to their knees with her sometimes almost unbearably poignant and insightful lyrics.”
To learn more about these artists and their stories, please visit ncfolkfestival.com/lineup.