by Brian Clarey

The gig: PhuzzFest The site: The place: Downtown Winston-Salem The buzz: About 30 bands in various downtown Winston-Salem clubs.

One(s) to watch: Lots of good stuff, including Airstrip, Burglar F*cker, Hiss Golden Messenger, Jews & Catholics, Miss Eaves and Adam Thorn.

Book it: April 4-6 How much: Usually about $5 per performance.

The gig: Big Lick Bluegrass Festival The site: The place: Big Lick Festival Park, Oakboro The buzz: Traditional bluegrass festival at a “wide spot in the road between Charlotte and Albemarle. “Worth going just for the T-shirt.”

One(s) to watch: Balsam Range, Deeper Shade of Blue, the James King Band, the Boxcars and Junior Sisk & the Ramblers; Thursday is open-mic night.

Book it: April 11-13 How much: $10 Thursday, $25 Friday, $30 Saturday. Limited camping available.

The gig: Darin & Brooke Aldridge Bluegrass Festival The site: The place: Cherryville The buzz: “Great music, good food and nice people make the festival one of the best small music events in North Carolina.”

One(s) to watch: Lots of indigenous music including the Kingsmen Quartet, plus lots of Darin and Brooke Aldridge, the “Sweethearts of Bluegrass.”

Book it: April 12-13 How much: $25/day

The gig: World Beer Festival The place: Moore Square, downtown Raleigh The site: The buzz: More than 250 beers from around the world gathered in one great place, from All About Beer magazine One(s) to watch: Lineup TBA, usually local action.

Book it: April 13; noon -4 p.m. and 6-10 p.m. How much: $45 per session in advance; $50 day of event; VIP sold out

The gig: Spring Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival The place: Silk Hope The site: The buzz: “A family-friendly festival of music, dance, art, and education” over four days in the country.

One(s) to watch: More than 60 bands in four stages, with highlights that include Big Ron Hunter, Cyril Lance, Dirty Bourbon River Show, Donna the Buffalo, John Brown’s Body, Keller Williams & the Travelin’ McCourys and a local kid, 12-year-old Ranford Almond from Browns Summit.

Book it: April 18-21 How much: $23-$48/day, $110 4-day pass, camping $15 and up The gig: Yadkin Valley Bluegrass Convention The site: The place: Yadkinville Elementary School The buzz: New this year: dancing! One(s) to watch: The competitions are the ticket at this one, in fiddle, banjo, guitar, bass, dobro, dulcimer., autoharp, vocals and dance.

Book it: April 19-20 How much: FREE

The gig: Asheville Earth Day The place: Lexington Avenue, downtown Asheville The site: The buzz: “a fun, entertaining setting to educate and promote conscious awareness and green living for the families and individuals of the Asheville community” One(s) to watch: The Infamous Stringdusters, Yarn, Ruby Velle & the Soulphonics, Vagabond Swing and Black Robin Hero.

Book it: April 20 How much: FREE

The gig: Merlefest The site: The place: Wilkesboro The buzz: The granddaddy of them all, Merlefest honors the legacy of Doc and Merle Watson featuring a few dozen bands, camping and art.

One(s) to watch: Lots of serious players including the Avett Brothers, Sam Bush, Delta Rae, Donna the Buffalo, the Greencards, Gov’t Mule, the Charlie Daniels Band, Del McCoury & the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Leon Russell and the Waybacks.

Book it: April 25-28 How much: $40-$60 single day, $145-$260 multi-day.

The gig: BBQ Capital Cook-Off The site: The place: Uptown Lexington The buzz: A barbecue cook-off in the barbecue capital, with almost $16,000 in prizes.

One(s) to watch: Music on Friday and Saturday night, incouding sets by Dark Water Rising and the Army Ground Forces Band Book it: April 26-27 How much: FREE

The gig: Mebane Dogwood Festial The site: The place: downtown Mebane The buzz: Put on by the Mebane Business Association, this event is in its 25th year.

One(s) to watch: Mason Lovette Band, the Catalinas and Too Much Sylvia.

Book it: April 26-27 How much: FREE

The gig: NC Pickle Festival The site: The place: Mt. Olive (of course) The buzz: A pickle derby, pickle pals, the Tour de Pickle, a pickle-packing challenge, pickle poetry, pickle art and a Pickle Princesses. Also a naturalization ceremony on Saturday at 10:30 a.m.

One(s) to watch: CC Ryder Band on Friday night Book it: April 26-27 How much: FREE

The gig: BBQ Festival on the Neuse The place: Kinston

The site: The buzz: Fireworks, golf tournament, street dance, pigs in costumes, donkey-drop bingo and the Great Neuse River Duck Race. Formerly known simply as the Festival on the Neuse, it is billed as the largest barbecue cook-off in the state.

One(s) to watch: A stop on the Teen Nation Tour 2013, with a slate of young performers.

Book it: May 1-4 How much: FREE

The gig: Spring Folly The site: The place: Kernersville The buzz: Clowns, rides, Frisbee dogs, acrobats and Korner’s Folly One(s) to watch: Headliner Jeff Bates, but don’t miss the Patsy Cline Tribute Show on Saturday afternoon.

Book it: May 3-5 How much: FREE

The gig: French Broad River Festival The site: The place: Hot Springs The buzz: Named for the river, not some French broad One(s) to watch: A nice one, with Langhorne Slim & the Law, Sol Driven Train, Col. Bruce Hampton & the Realms of Ventilation, Snake Oil Medicine Show, Hillstomp and more.

Book it: May 3-5 How much: $80 early bird, $90 after April 20, limited to 2,500 tickets

The gig: Ham & Yam Festival The site: The place: Downtown Smithfield

The buzz: A tribute to the two of the state’s biggest agricultural products, featuring the winner of the Miss Ham & Yam Pageant One(s) to watch: Just two acts, the Farm and “American Idol” contestant Casey James.

Book it: May 3-4 How much: FREE

The gig: HoustonFest The site: The place: Felts Park; Galax, Va. The buzz: “[C]reated in memory of Houston Caldwell, who passed from us on April 30, 2010. He was only 18 years old, but his musical legacy, passion for the continued growth of our musical heritage, and his spirit of community service will live on as we continue to fulfill his vision.”

One(s) to watch: Ten bands, including Lonesome River Band, Gene Watson and the Jeff Little Trio.

Book it: May 3-4 How much: $15/Day, $25/2-day, limited camping $15-$50

The gig: Jacksonville Jamboree The site: The place: Jacksonville Commons & Richard Ray Park The buzz: Lots of live sporting events like the BMX exhibition and tournaments in basketball, tennis, baseball and softball. Plus, remote-control boats.

One(s) to watch: Casey Weston from “The Voice” headlines.

Book it: May 3-5 How much: FREE

The gig: Fair in the Square The site: The place: Shallowford Square, Lewisville The buzz: The Lewisville Civic Club brings family fun to the town square for a one-day freebie.

One(s) to watch: Local action, including the Reagan High School Jazz Band, the Junction Trio and the Downtown Band.

Book it: May 4 How much: FREE

The gig: Carolina Rebellion The site: The place: Rock City Campgrounds, Charlotte Motor Speedway The buzz: Rock on the racetrack One(s) to watch: Alice in Chains, Limp Bizkit, Bush, Soundgarden, Buckcherry… need we say more?

Book it: May 4-5 How much: $119/weekend, camping $125 and up, $100 VIP Lounge ticket

The gig: Daniel Boone Family Festival The site: The place: Junker’s Mill Outdoor Theatre, Mocksville The buzz: Seriously outdated website, but it seems like an homage to the great woodsman and fighting man Daniel Boone — or, at least, a great place to bust out your coonskin cap. News this year is a frozen T-shirt contest.

One(s) to watch: Headliner Sleeping Booty is the pick of this year’s crop.

Book it: May 4 How much: FREE

The gig: BEACH MUSIC IN THE PARK The site: The place: Festival Park, Greensboro The buzz: Every Thursday through June, free beach music in downtown Greensboro. Everybody loves beach music, right?

One(s) to watch: Band of Oz (May 9), the Embers (May 30), Eric & the Chill Tones (June 13) and Sleeping Booty (June 27) Book it: May 9-June 27 How much: FREE

The gig: Lake Eden Arts Festival The site: The place: Camp Rockmont, Black Mountain The buzz: “LEAF is such a magical world to step into, relax, dance, and be happy.”

One(s) to watch: Oh my. Mavis Staples, Steel Pulse, Papa Grows Funk, Ben Solleem, Honey Island Swamp Band, Ozomatli and dozens more.

Book it: May 9-12 How much: $38-$57 day pass, $106 weekend (no camping). $159-$184 weekend (w/camping) The gig: Mayfest The site:

htm The place: Pilot Mountain The buzz: Annual Mothers Day weekend festival One(s) to watch: Lineup TBA Book it: May 10-12 How much: FREE The gig: Beaufort Music Festival The site: The place: The historic Beaufort waterfront The buzz: An outdoor festival in one of the state’s most charming waterfront communities One(s) to watch: Bigger names this year, including Holy Ghost Tent Revival and Robert Randolph & the Family Band.

Book it: May 10-11 How much: FREE

The gig:FoxFest The site: The place: None of your business — unless you’re on the list.

The buzz: A private festival — you need an invite to buy tickets, but surely you know someone who can get you on the list.

One(s) to watch: A lineup of groovy, jammy, funky Americana, with headliners BIG Something and Electric Soul Pandemic backed up by Bubobik Funk, the Family, Imperial Blend, the Heritage and Monkey Mind.

Book it: May 17-19 How much: $30-$50

The gig: Carolina Blues Festival The site: The place: Festival Park, downtown Greensboro The buzz: The longest running blues festival in the Southeast, and one of our favorites, and not just because we’re sponsors One(s) to watch: Headliners Janiva Magness and Kenny Neal.

Book it: May 18 How much: $30 day of show, 3-for-2 early-bird special

The gig: NC Potato Festival The site: The place: Elizabeth City The buzz: “The North Carolina Potato Festival is a family festival celebrating one of northeast North Carolina’s largest crops — potatoes!” With a potato-peeling contest, a potato-sack race and

Little Miss Tater Tot pageant One(s) to watch: Acts TBA. Book it: May 18 How much: FREE The gig: Artsplosure The site: The place: Moore Square, downtown Raleigh

The buzz: The Raleigh Arts Festival One(s) to watch: Lineup TBA, but the festival has seen the likes of Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, the Iguanas, Tinsley Ellis and our old friend Mel Melton & the Wicked Mojos Book it: May 18-19 How much: FREE

The gig: Li’l John’s Mountain Music Festival The site: The place: Cane Creek Campground, Snow Camp The buzz: “Great family-style bluegrass festival with years of tradition.”

One(s) to watch: Thirteen bands, including Constant Change, Dailey & Vincent, Marty Rabon & Full Circle, Passin’ Thru and Li’l John’s Allstar Band.

Book it: May 23-25 How much: $30 a day, $80 three-day pass The gig: Fiddler’s Grove Festival The site: The place: Fiddler’s Grove Campground; Union Grove The buzz: “The oldest continuous ole time fiddler’s competition in North America” No booze, no drugs.

One(s) to watch: The certified Old Time Fiddlers, open to musicians over 55 who play only by ear and have had no formal training.

Book it: May 24-26 How much: $5 adults, children FREE; camping $15 and up, limited RV hookups The gig: ChickenFest The place: Downtown North Wilkesboro The site: The buzz: Sponsored by the local newspaper and Tyson Foods, “designed to perpetuate MerleFest organizers’ efforts to designate Wilkes County as the Home of Americana Music, and to recognize the importance of the poultry industry in Wilkes.” No booze, and no meat to be served except chicken.

One(s) to watch: About 20 sold Americana acts.

Book it: May 25-27 How much: FREE

THE GIG: NC WINE FESTIVAL The site: The place: Tanglewood Park, Winston-Salem The buzz: A wine buzz, of course! One(s) to watch: Walrus, the Plaids and Ken Knox & Co., with former members of the Chairmen of the Board.

Book it: May 25 How much: $20 advance, $30 at the gate. Nondrinking tickets $15

THE GIG: NC GOLD FESTIVAL The site: The place: Tom Johnson Camping Center; Marion The buzz: Thar’s gold in them there hills! Or, at least, there used to be.

One(s) to watch: Music TBA, but expect to see some fiddlers Book it: May 31-June 1 How much: FREE

THE GIG: CAROLINA BEACH MUSIC FESTIVAL The site: The place: On the beach at Carolina Beach The buzz: in its 28th year, the festival boasts “sun, music and beer, with a little shaggin’ thrown in.”

One(s) to watch: Jim Quick & Coastline, the Craig Woolard Band and Spare Change Book it: June 1 How much: $15 advance, $20 gate

THE GIG: TEXAS PETE TWIN CITY RIBFEST The site: The place: Downtown Winston-Salem The buzz: Four days and nights of music and meat off the bone for this award-winning festival, now in its ninth year One(s) to watch: Lots of local and national goodies, including Laila Nur, Emily Stewart & Baby Teeth, the Deluge, Hobex, Paleface, the New Familiars, American Aquarium, Chatham County Line and a Sunday-night karaoke sing-off.

Book it: June 6-9 How much: $7, kids free. No charge on Thursday.

THE GIG: GROVERFEST 2010 The place: Balls Creek, Catawba County The site: The buzz: It’s all about the music. One(s) to watch: Sixteen bands, featuring Duk Tan, Dead Set, Fire! Fire!, Imperial Blend, Incognito Mosquito, Monkey Mind, Short Bus Love Affair and Yesterday’s Gravy.

Book it: June 7-9 How much: $50, plus $20 vehicle camping — limited run.

THE GIG: OCRAFOLK MUSIC AND STORYTELLING FESTIVAL The site: The place: Ocracoke Island The buzz: Long-running island festival, featuring this year artisan, a pot-luck supper, clogging, marionettes and a juggling workshop.

One(s) to watch: Almost 30 bands worth of gospel, folk, bluegrass, Americana and rock.

Book it: June 7-9 How much: FREE

THE GIG: MOSAIC FESTIVAL The site: The place: Festival Park, downtown Greensboro The buzz: Our favorite new local festival, with the best food court in town.

One(s) to watch: Headliner Janka Nabay & the Bubu Gang head a world-music slate, with the Brand New Life and more to come.

Book it: June 8 How much: FREE

THE GIG: CHARLIE POOLE MUSIC FESTIVAL The site: The place: Governor Morehead Park, Eden

The buzz: Two days of pickin’, grinnin’ and fiddlin’ in honor of the legacy of mill worker and banjoist Charlie Poole, now in its 18th year.

One(s) to watch: John McEuen, the Dry Hill Draggers, Kinney Rorrer & the New NC Ramblers, open-mic sessions plus plenty of competitions and $5,000 in prizes. Winners have from as far away as San Rafael, Calif. and Brooklyn, NY.

Book it: June 14-15 How much: $15-$25

THE GIG: FUN FOURTH FESTIVAL The site: The place: Downtown Greensboro The buzz: Greensboro’s 28th annual Fourth of July celebration, with a Freedom Run, block party, parade, street festival and fireworks.

One(s) to watch: A big, mostly free musical weekend with the stage acts TBA and the Greensboro Philharmonic on Wednesday night at the White Oak Amphitheater.

Book it: June 29-July 4 How much: FREE


The place: Various Triad locations The buzz: A huge lineup of classical musicians, conductors, small groups, guest conductors and orchestras along with a Fringe series that’s a little more hip One(s) to watch: Acts booked include Joshua Bell, Ignat Solzhenitsym, William Wolfram and more.

Book it: June 24-July 27 How much: $9-$49, but lots of deals available at the website

THE GIG: ANNUAL SOUTHEAST OLD THRESHERS’ REUNION The site: The place: FarmPark, Denton The buzz: “The greatest steam, gas engine and antique farm machinery show in the Southeast.” New golf cart rules in effect this year, but also a lumberjack competition, a tractor pull, fireworks and the Miss Thresher Pageant.

One(s) to watch: Lineup TBA, but last year they had the Dosses, the Perrys, Rhonda Vincent, Ronnie McDowell and Mike Snider.

Book it: July 2-6 How much: $14 ($6 kids)

THE GIG: RED, WHITE AND BLUEGRASS FESTIVAL The site: The place: Catawba Meadows Park, Morganton The buzz: A festival born of a 15-minute fireworks show on the campus of Western Piedmont Community College in the 1980s. No booze.

One(s) to watch: Eight bands a day, including Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out, the Grascals, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Steep Canyon Rangers, Mountain Heart, Larry Sparks & the Lonesome Ramblers and Masters of Bluegrass as well as a bluegrass camp for kids.

Book it: June 30-July 4 How much: $30/day, $110 five-day pass, kids FREE

THE GIG: UNCLE SAM JAM The site: None The place: Oak Hollow Park, High Point The buzz: Annual Fourth of July throwdown in the Furniture City One(s) to watch: Lineup TBA Book it: July 4 How much: FREE

THE GIG: HEAVY REBEL WEEKENDER The site: The place: The Millennium Center, Winston- Salem The buzz: Hard to pigeonhole this one, just know it’s about rock, country, punk and everything in between — 90 bands over three days on four stages — plus burlesque, cars, PBR, wet wifebeaters and mud wrestling.

One(s) to watch: More than 90 acts, including Hearts & Daggers, the Infidels, Labretta Suede, the Gojira Experiment, Psychocharger, Filthy Still, the Recently Deceased, Switchblade Syndicate, the Misery Jackals, Sarah Shook & the Devil, ZLocal Skank and Cutthroat Shamrock. Best. Band names. Ever. But we’d trade them all for Dexter Romweber.

Book it: July 5-7 How much: $35 (one day) $100 (weekend)

THE GIG: CHRISTMAS IN JULY FESTIVAL The site: The place: West Jefferson The buzz: Now in its 25th year, activities at this one include a Civil War reenactment and a square dance.

One(s) to watch: Ten acts, including gospel, country and bluegrass.

Book it: July 6 How much: FREE

THE GIG: FLOYDFEST 7 The site: The place: Floyd, Va. The buzz: “FloydFest is named after our onestoplight, two-block town, or rather the special essence of our town, which residents and visitors alike experience as a respite from the restless, hurried activity of our modern society, and the cookie-cutter look and feel of many, if not most, modern places.” It is not a Pink Floyd tribute festival.

One(s) to watch: The Lumineers, Old Crow Medicine Show, Yonder Mountain String Band, Hot Tuna, the Infamous Stringdusters, Railroad Earth, North Mississippi Allstars, Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit, Yarn and many more, plus an Up and Comers slate and the Flower of Life DJ Experience.

Book it: July 26-29 How much: $80 (Sunday)-$250 (four day), with VIP available

THE GIG: BELECHERE The Site: The place: Downtown Asheville The buzz: “Bele chere means ‘beautiful living.’” One(s) to watch: “Featured past performers include Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Old 97’s, Cracker, the Family Stone Project, Travis Tritt, the Wailers, Original P-Funk, Cowboy Mouth, Rusted Root, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Marty Stuart, Gin Blossoms, Galactic, Gov’t Mule and many others.”

Book it: July 26-28 How much: FREE

THE GIG: CAPE FEAR BLUES FESTIVAL The site: The place: Wilmington The buzz: Blues on the beach courtesy of the Cape Fear Blues Society, with a blues cruise, workshops, jams and a guitar giveaway One(s) to watch: This one, now in its 18th year, is still in the planning stages, but our favorite acts from last year were Li’l Ronnie & the Grand Dukes, Sweet Sue Savia and Greensboro act Lawyers, Guns & Money.

Book it: July 26-28 How much: $TBA

The gig: Waldensian Festival The site: The place: Downtown Valdese The buzz: “Since 1976, on the second Saturday in August, Valdese hosts an annual festival to celebrate the “Glorious Return” of the Waldenses from exile in Switzerland to their native valleys in the Cottian Alps of Italy in 1689. This celebration is mirrored around the world by other Waldensian communities.”

One(s) to watch: Festival kicks off with Jim Quick & Coastline Book it: Aug. 9-10 How much: FREE

The gig: Winterville Watermelon Festival The site: The place: Winterville The buzz: the 28th annual festival dedicated to that most succulent of fruits, also a “womanless beauty contest” One(s) to watch: TBA, but in 2011 they had the Four Tops.

Book it: Aug. 23-25 How much: FREE

The gig: Castle Carnevale Mardi Gras of the Carolinas The site: The place, Castle McCulloch, Jamestown The buzz: A wild and sexy costumed carnival on the grounds of a castle.

One(s) to watch: Lineup TBA, with DJs in the ballroom.

Book it: Aug. 24 How much: $30/door, early bird starts at $15

The gig: Lazy Daze Arts & Crafts Festival The site: The place: Cary Towne Center

The buzz: The Containment Area for Relocated Yankees throws a big, free street bash.

One(s) to watch: Lots of local acts, but the most intriguing is the roving performer described as “Silver Drummer Girl (living statue)” Book it: Aug. 24 How much: FREE

The gig: Mantrasbash The site: The place: TBA The buzz: A festival started by a festival band… getting better every year One(s) to watch: The lineup is TBA, but be sure the Mantras will close out at least one night.

Book it: Aug. 29-Sept. 1 How much: $TBA

The gig: Happy Valley Old-time Fiddlers’ Convention The site: The place: Jones Farm, Lenoir The buzz: Lenoir is the place where Tom Dooley actually hung his head and cried in 1867 after being executed for murdering his neighbor, Laura Foster, who grew up on the festival site One(s) to watch: Check out the competitions, especially the ones for autoharp, Appalachian dulcimer and mountain dance Book it: Aug. 30-Sept. 1 How much: Friday and Sunday are FREE, Saturday $10, kids FREE

The gig: NC Apple Festival The site: The place: Downtown Hendersonville The buzz: “The apple has been called the loveliest of all fruits.”

One(s) to watch: Full lineup TBA, but they’ve already booked the Buddy K Big Band, the Hoss Howard Band, Too Much Sylvia and an Elvis tribute act.

Book it: Aug. 30-Sept. 2 How much: FREE

The gig: John Coltrane International Jazz and Blues Festival The site: The place: Oak Hollow Festival Park, High Point The buzz: “[T]o preserve and celebrate the life and music of John Coltrane and to enrich the lives of others through the introduction of jazz and other musical genres.”

One(s) to watch: The organization has taken some flak for straying from Coltrane’s roots. Perhaps this year’s lineup, TBA, will stay more true to the mission.

Book it: Aug. 31 How much: $TBA

The gig: Hopscotch Music Festival The site: The place: All over the Raleigh music scene The buzz: Three days, 15 venues, an assload of bands, the music festival begun by our friends at the Independent Weekly.

One(s) to watch: Lineup TBA, but lots of local and indie acts. Last year saw the Roots, the Jesus and Mary Chain and the dBs among the horde.

Book it: Sept. 5-7 How much: $65-$85 day passes, $125-$180 (VIP) 3-day passes

The gig: Festival in the Park The site: The place: Freedom Park, Charlotte The buzz: In its 48th year, the festival has been ranked among the Top 200 in the United States by Sunshine Artists magazine One(s) to watch: Special stages for kids, clowns, magicians and folk musicians. More than a dozen music acts, including Lauren Light, the Spongetones, Loose Lugnuts and Sonny Skyyz & the Rainmakers.

Book it: Sept. 20-22 How much: FREE

The gig: Benson Mule Days The site: The place: Benson Singing Grove The buzz: “The weekend is packed with rodeos, a mule pulling contest, arts and crafts, vendors, street dances, carnival rides, camping, parades, bluegrass shows and more.”

One(s) to watch: The Trailblazers, Sons of the Pioneers Book it: Sept. 26-29 How much: FREE

The gig: Rock the Block The site: The place: Downtown Winston-Salem The buzz: Big free street fest to celebrate the end of summer.

One(s) to watch: Lineup TBA, with a promise on the website for a “new format.”

Book it: Sept. 21 How much: FREE

The gig: Carrboro Music Festival The site: The place: Carrboro The buzz: In its 16th year, the daylong festival takes over the city with shows at such disparate venues as bars, cafés, dance studios, garden stores and markets, as well as the venerable Cat’s Cradle.

One(s) to watch: Still booking, but last year’s event saw about 180 local acts: jazz, rock, gospel, country, folk, Americana and just about everything else you can think of.

Book it: Sept. 29 How much: FREE (donations accepted)