Artist Announcement

North Carolina Folk Festival Artist Announcement #NCFolkFest

Today, the North Carolina Folk Festival announced the addition of eight artists who will appear at the festival the weekend of September 6-8 in downtown Greensboro—the festival’s second season following the success of the wildly popular three-year residency by the National Folk Festival—which drew more than 400,000 people to 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. Performances are presented on a handful of stages across center city Greensboro, along with a juried North Carolina Maker’s Marketplace, family area and stage, a wide range of food vendors, craft brews, and wine.  

The performers announced today encompass a wide range of traditions and cultures—from Afro-Cuban rumba and Dominican bachata to beautiful Sacred Steel, Hawaiian, and Cajun music. More performers will be announced in the next few weeks.

ArtsGreensboro produces the admission-free festival with the help of the City of Greensboro and a coalition of partners, including national sponsorships, foundations, media support, and on-site donations—making it one of the state’s largest and most popular events.

In addition to the discovery and excitement of the family-friendly weekend, the festival will bring other tangible benefits to the community; last year’s weekend attracted cultural tourists and harnessed significant economic awards for Greensboro estimated at around than $12 million. “The Festival also helps shine a light on our city’s vibrant year-round cultural scene, which makes Greensboro an arts destination and a great place to live, work, play, and learn,” said Amy Grossmann, Director of the N.C. Folk Festival.

The artists announced today include:

  • Mwenso and the Shakes (Jazz & Funk) – from across the Globe by way of New York, NY

Mwenso and the Shakes are a unique troupe of global artists who present music that merges the highest form of entertainment and artistry while commanding a formidable timeline of jazz and blues expression through African and Afro-American music. Immigrating from Sierra Leone, London, South Africa, Greenwich Village, Madagascar, France, Jamaica, and Hawaii, the Shakes all now call Harlem their home. Taking from the stylings of Fats Waller, Muddy Waters, James Brown, and many other American musical legends, Michael Mwenso leads an electrifying show the New York Times calls “intense, prowling, and ebullient.

  • Ricardo Lemvo & Makina Loca (Afro-Cuban) – from Zaire Province in Northern Angola by way of Los Angeles, CA

As a child, Ricardo Lemvo was introduced to Cuban music by a cousin who owned a large collection of vintage Cuban LPs. Lemvo came to the US more than 30 years ago to pursue a law degree but ended up devoting his life to music. Since then he has established himself as a pioneer with his innovative blend of Afro-Cuban rhythms with pan-African styles (soukous, Angolan semba, and kizomba). He has been described by the Los Angeles Times as “seamless and infectious.” Lemvo is the embodiment of the Afro-Latin Diaspora, which connects back to Mother Africa via the Cuban clave rhythm. He is truly multicultural and equally at home singing in Spanish, Portuguese, Kimbundu, Turkish, Lingala, and Kikongo.

  • Redd Volkaert (Country/Telecaster Master) – from Austin, TX

For players truly in their element, the guitar becomes an extension of their personality. The wild, outer-space country twang that Redd Volkaert reels off on his Telecaster is the perfect expression of both his disarming, easygoing manner and rather loopy sense of humor. Born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Volkaert started on guitar at the tender age of 10, sometimes skipping school to get in a few extra hours of woodshedding. Playing professionally for more than 40 years, he started playing in bands long before he was old enough to drink with them. Names like Brad Paisley, Merle Haggard, George Jones, Dolly Parton, Tim McGraw, Trace Adkins, Vince Gill, Johnny Paycheck, Kenny Rogers, and Eric Johnson mark the long list of artists he has shared the stage with (the list is longer, a LOT longer), and he just keeps on going.

  • Andre Veloz (Bachata) – from the Dominican Republic by way of New York, NY

Born in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, raised in the city of Santiago in the Dominican Republic, Andre Veloz is a singer, songwriter, painter and actor. Her surname (English translation: “fast”) bespeaks the daring of a woman who has plunged headlong into the male-dominated world of Dominican bachata. Veloz connects these roots to inspiration from New York City’s jazz, Latin jazz, salsa, and bachata scenes where she and her family have resided since 2004. As Ms. Veloz developed her sound, her repertoire gravitated to old school boleros and bachatas. Her soulful voice is tailor-made for this genre, popularly known as the “Dominican Blues.” While Andre Veloz is very much a part of that NYC bachata scene, she contributes her own saucy, fanciful and feminine sensibility.

  • Racines (Cajun) – from Southwest Louisiana

If you took all the roots of southwest Louisiana music and grafted them together, you would end up with Racines. Racines (which means “roots” in French) both waters the roots and stretches outward. They are a collaborative project of five gentlemen, led by legendary accordionist Steve Riley, who are all well-known Cajun musicians in their own right. Their music, like the roots after which they are named, draws life from the nutrients abundant in the local soil. In this corner of Louisiana, that means Cajun, Zydeco, Creole, Swamp Pop, Blues and more.

  • The Allen Boys (Sacred Steel) – from Mount Airy, NC

The Allen Boys are Sacred Steel ambassadors, taking their praise-leading instruments beyond the four walls of the church and introducing it to the world for a traditional gospel party with a blues and country feel. Mixing these three genres and sounds, The Allen Boys are North Carolina’s only Sacred Steel band. They have shared the stage with many of the top names in the jam scene such as The Lee Boys, Eric Gales and the Band, Kofi Burbridge, Shane Pruitt, and Ike Stubblefield. Hailing from a small church in Mt. Airy, they play in a little-known, yet long-standing style of religious music found only in select African American Pentecostal-Holiness churches.

  • Tuba Skinny (New Orleans Early Jazz and Blues) – from New Orleans, LA

Formed in 2009, Tuba Skinny has steadily evolved from a loose collection of street musicians into a solid ensemble dedicated to bringing the traditional New Orleans sound to audiences around the world. Drawing on a wide range of musical influences—from spirituals to Depression-era blues, from ragtime to traditional jazz—their sound evokes the rich musical heritage of their New Orleans home. The band has gained a loyal following through their distinctive sound, their commitment to reviving long-lost songs, and their barnstorming live performances.

  • Ledward Kaapana (Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar) – from Kaneohe, HI

Led Kaapana’s mastery of stringed instruments, particularly slack key guitar, and his extraordinary baritone and leo ki`eki`e (falsetto) voices, have made him a musical legend. He has been thrilling audiences for more than 40 years. With an easy-going style and kolohe (rascal) charm, he has built a loyal corps of “Led Heads” from Brussels to his birthplace on the Big Island of Hawaii. Recognition by his peers earned Ledward four Grammy nominations (and two wins) and the prestigious National Heritage Fellowship award in 2011 from the National Endowment for the Arts—our nation’s highest honor for folk and traditional artists.  

To learn more about these artists and their stories, please visit ncfolkfestival.com/lineup. And keep up with more news, follow us on our social media channels:

More performers will be announced as they are confirmed.