The warmth of spring has us thinking about this year’s festival season and where we will find Jon Lohman, director of our Virginia Folklife Program. You can make plans now to visit any of these traditional music and cultural festivals across Virginia… and look for Jon there.
May 2-3: HoustonFest, Galax
This old-time music festival honors banjo-playing prodigy and rising star of traditional music, Houston Caldwell, who sadly left us at age eighteen. Houston was featured on many Virginia Folklife stages and recordings over the years, beginning when he was eleven years old. As always, Jon will be on hand to host many artist workshops including “I Remember Houston,” featuring many of Houston’s musical friends.
The fourth annual HoustonFest lineup includes The Whites, The Boxcars, Balsam Range, Lonesome River Band, Wayne Henderson & Virginia Luthier Band, Snyder Family Band, Jonny and the Jambusters, Blue Highway, Sierra Hull, and The Kruger Brothers, with special performances by the Steve Martin Banjo Award Recipients: Sammy Shelor, Jens Kruger, and Mark Johnson. HoustonFest will also be one of the final stops on the legendary Dr. Ralph Stanley’s farewell tour.
May 24: Art on the Farm: Barrier Islands Center, Machipongo
Held at the beautiful Barrier Islands Center on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, this festival showcases some of the finest traditional arts, foods, and music from the Shore and throughout Virginia. Featured musical guests include the great Wayne C. Henderson, Springfield Exit, Gregg Kimball and Mary Smith, the Northern Neck Chantey Singers, and the Family of Praise Gospel Choir. Jon will be hosting workshops throughout the weekend.
June 21: Wayne C. Henderson Music Festival and Guitar Competition, Grayson Highlands State Park
Come celebrate the twentieth anniversary of one of the most celebrated events in southwest Virginia, hosted by one of the true treasures of the Blue Ridge, National Heritage Fellow Wayne Henderson. This year’s festival features a blockbuster lineup of Vince Gill, the “King of Dieselbilly” Bill Kirchen, Dale Jett and Hello Stranger, the Snyder Family, and Japanese bluegrass master Kazuhiro Inaba. Be sure to stay for the after-party at Wayne’s house!
June 27-28: River & Roots Festival, Berryville
This inaugural festival on the lovely banks of the Shenandoah River will feature bluegrass, old time, and eclectic Americana music while focusing on the heritage and health of the Shenandoah. The festival will feature workshops in cheese making, organic farming, and an educational river float. Musical artists include the Steep Canyon Rangers, Danny Knicely, Furnace Mountain, Cedric Watson, and many more. Jon will present a special program celebrating our Apprenticeship Program.
July 11-13: Red Wing Roots Festival, Mount Solon
Located in the stunningly beautiful Natural Chimneys Park, this festival came out of the gate last year with a spectacular lineup, and they have matched it this year. This year’s lineup includes the likes of Tim O Brien, Peter Rowan, Hayes Carll, and many others.
August 4-9: Galax Old Fiddlers Convention, Galax
What can we say? The granddaddy of them all – the country’s largest Fiddlers Convention, now in its seventy-ninth year. Come and plan to stay a while. There will be contests in old time and bluegrass fiddle and banjo, guitar, dobro, mandolin, and flatfoot dance. But perhaps the real action is out among the campsites, where musicians of all ages and levels jam until the wee hours of the night.
September 21: Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Showcase, Charlottesville
A Charlottesville jewel: this intimate gathering honors and showcases the participants of the Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship program, which pairs masters and apprentices in a wide range of traditional folkways. Some of the apprenticeships highlighted this year include rhythm and blues from the Middle Peninsula, accordion restoration, bluegrass mandolin, tobacco braiding, falconry and many more! We’re keeping this year’s lineup under lock and key, but trust us, you won’t want to miss it!
September 25-27: Watermelon Park Fest, Berryville
Watermelon Park was the site of the nation’s first bluegrass festival in 1960. After years of hiatus, the festival was revived more than ten years ago and features some of the finest in bluegrass and beyond. This year’s lineup includes Sam Bush, Bruce Molsky, Elizabeth Laprelle and many others.
October 10-12: Richmond Folk Festival, Richmond
Celebrating its tenth year, the festival has become the largest folk festival on the East Coast. Each year, the Folklife Program produces the much loved Virginia Folklife Area, and this year we’ll be bringing some of our favorite artists from our twenty-five years of work in the Commonwealth. The Virginia Folklife Area is always a festival favorite, and this year will include the likes of Sammy Shelor, Maggie Ingram and the Ingramettes, Jesse McReynolds and many more. Our traditional crafts area will feature everything from instrument making to boat building. And it’s free!
October 25: Blue Ridge Folklife Festival, Ferrum
In our opinion, one of the finest folklife festivals in the country. Come see everything from coon dog races to moonshine, mountain whistlers to ballad singers, a dizzying array of traditional crafts and agricultural traditions, and enjoy the tasty fried pies, black pot chicken and homemade cracklin’.