Spring and Summer music festival guide

by the YES! Staff

The gig: Darin & Brooke Aldridge Bluegrass Festival The site: The place: Cherryville The buzz: A nice little family festival, with free camping One(s) to watch: Lots of indigenous music including the Grascals and Balsam Range Book it: April 1-2 How much: $20/day, $35 weekend The gig: Big Lick Bluegrass Festival The site: The place: Big Lick Festival Park 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, the Rye Hollar Boys, the Grascals, Junior Sisk and Ramblers Choice, among others. Book it: April 7-9 How much: $5 Thursday, $25 Friday, $30 Saturday. Primitive camping available for $15 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: Joystick and the Plaids, with a few more local heroes on tap in the VIP tent. Book it: April 9; 12 p.m. -4 p.m. and 6 p.m.-10 p.m. How much: $40 per session in advance; $50 day of event; VIP sold out The gig: Asheville Earth Day The place: Pack Square Park, downtown Asheville The site: The buzz: “[P]eople of all ages and backgrounds of the Asheville community, gathering to educate and celebrate that every person can make a difference for environmental change.” One(s) to watch: Come for Toubab Krewe and the Lee Boys. Stay for the Asheville Middle School of Rock. Book it: April 16 How much: FREE (VIP available) The gig: ClydeFEST The site: The place: Bynum Ballpark The buzz: “[C]elebrating legendary folk artist Clyde Jones.” One(s) to watch: Tommy Edwards & Friends, Sandbox, the Northwood High School Jazz Band, Dan the Magic Man and Girls Rock North Carolina. Book it: April 17 How much: $7 adults, $3 children 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 big names that include Arrested Development, Big Daddy Love, Donna the Buffalo, Holy Ghost Tent Revival, Pat “Mother Blues” Cohen, Ron Hunter and Tift Merritt. Book it: April 21-24 How much: $25-$45/day, $100 4-day pass The gig: NC Herring Festival The site: The place: Jamesville The buzz: Something fishy on Easter weekend One(s) to watch: As always, Friday night headliner Craig Woolard Band Book it: April 22-23 How much: FREE (herring costs extra)


Lyle Lovett. (photo by Ryan Snyder)


Robert Plant (courtesy photo)

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: Good lord. Robert Plant & the Band of Joy. Lyle Lovett, the Doobie Brothers, Randy Travis, the Infamous Stringdusters, Joan Osborne, Sonny Landreth and so many more it’s downright freaky. Book it: April 28-May 1 How much: $35-$55 single day, $135-$250 multi-day. The gig: NC Pickle Festival The site: The place: Mt. Olive (of course) The buzz: It’s more than just pickles… but there’s gonna be a lot of pickles. One(s) to watch: Band of Oz on Friday night Book it: April 29-30 How much: FREE The gig: Party on the Plank The site: The place: Downtown High Point The buzz: “Party on the Plank desires to continue promoting cultural renewal and a fun community gathering place in downtown High Point.” One(s) to watch: Beatles cover band the Spongetones April 28, Old Southern Moonshine Revival May 5 Book it: Every Thursday April 28-May 12 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: Boombox, the Bottle Rockets, Snake Oil Medicine Show, Great American Taxi, the Honeycutters and 11 more Book it: April 29-May 1 How much: $65 early bird, $75 after April 20, limited to 2,500 tickets The gig: BBQ Festival on the Neuse The place: Kinston The site: The buzz: Fireworks, golf tournament, street dance, pigs in costumes and the Great Neuse River Duck Race. Formerly known simply as the Festival on the Neuse, it is mnt the largest barbecue cook-off in the state. One(s) to watch: Hip Pocket and the Embers Book it: May 4-7 How much: FREE The gig: Carolina Blues Festival The site: The place: Festival Park, downtown Greensboro The buzz: One of our favorites, and not just because we’re sponsors One(s) to watch: Two stages, including sets by local heroes Bob Margolin (with Ann Rabson), Ladies Auxillary and Lawyers, Guns & Money; appearances by Cigar-box busker Richard Johnston and former porn star Candye Kane and her band; and offerings by Andy Squint, Oern Poteat and the Misdemeanors. But we’re going for the guitar heroics of headliner Ronnie Baker Brooks. How much: $18 advance, $30 day of show The gig: Shine to Wine Festival The place: Downtown north Wilkesboro The site: The buzz: Wine, food and song, and the 4th annual Culinary Chefs Challenge One(s) to watch: Music TBA Book it: May 7 How much: FREE, wine tasting $20 The gig: Spring Folly The site: The place: Kernersville The buzz: Water wars, NASCAR simulator, petting zoo, antique cars, a lumberjack show and Korner’s Folly One(s) to watch: “Kernersville Idol” talent search plus an Elvis impersonator Book it: May 6-7 How much: FREE The gig: Mayfest The site: The place: Pilot Mountain The buzz: Annual Mothers Day weekend festival. One(s) to watch: Lineup TBA Book it: May 6-8 How much: FREE The gig: Daniel Boone Family Festival The site: The place: Mocksville The buzz: Seriously outdated website, with little or no information regarding music, food or anything else, really, 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 One(s) to watch: Local heroes DC Express and the David Mayfield Parade, with headlining beach band Mixed Emotions in the coveted 4:30 p.m. slot Book it: May 7 How much: FREE The gig: Ham & Yam Festival The site: The place: 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: Headliner Night Ranger. Seriously. Book it: May 7-8 How much: FREE The gig: Lake Eden Arts Festival The site: The place: Camp Rockmont, Black Mountain The buzz: “[S]pontaneous and great music from all corners of the globe,” with fiddle, dance and poetry contests, dancing and a killer drum circle One(s) to watch: Tons, including Maceo Parker, Spam Allstars, Acoustic Syndicate, Man Arnold & Plate Full O’ Blues, and Voice of the Wetlands featuring Anders Osborne, Cyril Neville, Johnny Vidacovich and Big Chief Monk Boudreaux Book it: May 12-15 How much: $34-$42 day pass, $99 weekend (no camping). $151-$175 weekend (w/camping) 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: Bands TBA, but last year’s lineup included Steep Canyon Rangers, American Aquarium, Rosebuds and Crucial Fiya Book it: May 13-14 How much: FREE The gig: Dale Earnhardt Chevrolet Newton Mayfest The site: The place: Downtown Newton The buzz: Word is Dale himself may show One(s) to watch: Lineup TBA, but sure to include few local and high school bands, rock, beach and country Book it: May 14 How much: FREE The gig: Englehard Seafood festival The site: The place Englehard: The buzz: Hold out for the Miss Seafood Pageant One(s) to watch: 4 Star Edition, a military Top 40 band, plus Saints of Soul, a karaoke contest and a gospel tent Book it: May 21 How much: FREE 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.” With a potato-peeling contest and Little Miss Tater Tot pageant One(s) to watch: Three stages, lineup TBA. Book it: May 21 How much: FREE The gig: Artsplosure The site: The place: Moore Square; downtown Raleigh, NC The buzz: The Raleigh Arts Festival One(s) to watch: Lineup TBA, but last year saw Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, the Iguanas, Tinsley Ellis and our old friend Mel Melton & the Wicked Mojos Book it: May 21-22 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: Sixteen bands, with an undercard including Sweet Potato Pie, Lonesome River Band and Grass Cats, and headliners Willow Branch, McFarland Road and Li’l John’s All Star Band on Saturday Book it: May 26-28 How much: $25-$30 a day, $75 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” 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 27-29 How much: $35 adults, $15 children; camping available The gig: Groverfest 2010 The place: High Country Motorcycle Camp, Wilkes County The site: The buzz: It’s all about the music. One(s) to watch: Greensboro band the Mantras, who thrive in a festival atmosphere, with Kung Fu Dynamite, Yesterday’s Gravy and a slew of other great band names Book it: May 27-29 How much: $45 pre-sale, $TBA after March, limited camping $25 extra The gig: NC Wine Festival The site: The place: Tanglewood Park, Winston-Salem The buzz: A wine buzz, of course! One(s) to watch: Chairmen of the Board, with others TBA Book it: May 28 How much: $20 advance, $25 at the gate 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: June 3-4 How much: FREE The gig: Smilefest The site: The place: Jomeokee Campground, Pinnacle The buzz: A festival begun in the aftermath of the death of Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia, back after a short hiatus One(s) to watch: Wow. JJ Grey and Mofro, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Melvin Seals & JGB, Larry Keel & Natural Bridge, Greensboro acts Doby and Electric Soul Pandemic and headliner Railroad Earth, among others. Book it: June 3-5 How much: $115 for the weeked — if you can score an invite, that is. The gig: Ocrafolk Music and storytelling Festival The site: The place: Ocracoke Island The buzz: “The festival is a life-enriching experience, full of joy and sharing… a communion of sorts, bringing together musicians, Ocracoke residents and tourists.” One(s) to watch: Lineup TBA, but last year’s saw 28 bands worth of gospel, folk, bluegrass, Americana and rock, along with clogging, storytelling and… pirates? Book it: June 3-5 How much: FREE The gig: Texas Pete Twin City RibFest The site: The place: Dixie Classic Fairgrounds; Winston-Salem The buzz: Four days and nights of music and meat off the bone for this award-winning festival, now in its seventh year One(s) to watch: Mixed-bag lineup of ’80s on Thursday, funk on Friday and Carolina music on Saturday. Sunday night lineup TBA, but they usually spring for somebody pretty big (remember Vanilla Ice?). Book it: June 9-12 How much: $7, kids free The gig: Galax Leaf & String Festival The site: The place: Downtown Galax, Va. The buzz: Bluegrass and old-time mountain music on two downtown stages and a headliner at the historic Rex Theater One(s) to watch: “[A] full sampling of local music, luthiers, arts, crafts and regional and national authors on hand to meet and entertain you.” Book it: June 10-11 How much: FREE, some ticketed events The gig: Washington Summer Festival The site: The place: Washington The buzz: Last year they had a fossil dig. One(s) to watch: Just one act, yet to be named Book it: June 10-11 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 One(s) to watch: TBA, but plenty of competitions and $5,000 in prizes. Winners last year came from as far away as San Rafael, Calif. and Brooklyn, NY. Book it: June 10-11 How much: $10-$20 The gig: Fun Fourth Festival The site: The place: Downtown Greensboro The buzz: Greensboro’s 26th annual Fourth of July celebration One(s) to watch: A big, mostly free musical weekend with the Eric & the Chill Tones and Walrus Saturday night, and the Greensboro Philharmonic on Monday night at the new White Oak Amphitheater at the Greensboro Coliseum. Book it: June 25-July 4 How much: FREE ($10 block party) The gig: Kernersville summerfest The site: The place: Kernersville Elementary School; 512 W. Mountain St. The buzz: A good old-fashioned street fair with pony rides, classic cars, a petting zoo and fireworks. One(s) to watch: The Fantastic Shakers, Craig Woolard Band and the Band of Oz Book it: June 16-18 How much: FREE (donations accepted) The gig: Eastern Music Festival The site: 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: We love the EMF Fringe series, which brings a different vibe to the event, but most acts are TBA Book it: June 25-July 30 How much: $9-$49, but lots of deals available at the website


Twitty family. (courtesy photo) The gig: Annual Southeast Old Threshers’ Reunion The site: The place: FarmPark, Denton The buzz: “The greatest steam, gas and antique farm machinery show in the Southeast.” One(s) to watch: Michael Twitty, son of Conway, on June 30 Book it: June 30-July 4 How much: $14 ($6 kids) 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 and mud wrestling. One(s) to watch: “Dexter Romweber is a god.” Book it: July 1-3 How much: $35 (one day) $90 (weekend) 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 Lonesome River Band, the Boxcars, Dailey & Vincent, Mountain Heart with Tony Rice and Rocky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, as well as a bluegrass camp for kids. Book it: July 1-4 (as always) How much: $20/day, $45 weekend pass 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: At least nine acts, including gospel, country and bluegrass. We like the Dollar Brothers, for no particular reason other than the name. Book it: July 2 How much: 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


Carolina Chocolate Drops. (photo by Julie Roberts)


Grace Potter & The Nocturnals. (photo by Lauren Dukoff) The gig: FloydFest X The site: The place: Floyd, Va. The buzz: “FloydFest is named after our one-stoplight, 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: Crazy good lineup including Robert Randolph & the Family Band, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, the Del McCoury Band, the David Grisman Sextet, Hot Tuna, Toubab Krewe, the Carolina Chocolate Drops and many, many more. But really, they had us at Taj Mahal. Book it: July 28-31 How much: $125-$155/weekend, and day passes may be made available depending on space. 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 29-31 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 16th year, is still in the planning stages, but our favorite acts from last year were 10 Dollar Thrill, Jen & Tonic and Blind Lemon Pledge Book it: July 29-31 How much: $TBA The gig: Sneads Ferry Shrimp Festival The site: The place: Sneads Ferry The buzz: The shrimp festival features a shrimp heading/peeling contest, a parade, a Shrimp Queen pageant, fireworks and the Shrimp Ball; also has its own song (mp3 on the website) and its own wine, Waterway White One(s) to watch: Valerie Morales, Gaylon & Sweetwater, Classic Collection, Don Blalock & Pauline Smith, Jay Barnes, the Conductors and Billy Scott & the Party Prophets Book it: Aug. 13-14 How much: $3, kids FREE The gig: Winterville Watermelon Festival The site: The place: Winterville The buzz: the 26th annual festival dedicated to that most succulent of fruits, also a “womanless beauty contest” One(s) to watch: The Four Tops on Thursday night Book it: Aug. 25-27 How much: FREE The gig: High Country Bluegrass Festival The site: The place: Boone The buzz: Bluegrass in the setting where it’s meant to be heard: outdoors in the mountain sunshine One(s) to watch: Much of the lineup TBA, but last year saw the Grascals, Surefire and the Darin & Brooke Aldridge Quintet Book it: Aug. 26-27 How much: $15-$35 The gig: John Coltrane International Jazz and Blues Festival The site: none 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: Ravi Coltrane, son of John, who ably carries the torch. Book it: Sept. 3 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: Sept. 3-5 How much: $5, $10 camping The gig: Blues, Brews & BBQ The site: Google says it may harm my computer The place: Uptown Charlotte The buzz: Three very important B-words crammed into one weekend One(s) to watch: Big Bad Voodoo Daddy on Friday night Book it: Sept 9-10 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: Live music on six stages, lineup TBA Book it: Sept. 17 How much: FREE The gig: Festival in the Park The site: The place: Freedom Park, Charlotte The buzz: In its 46th 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 Woody & the Stragglers, Criss Cross Mangosauce and Cruise O Matic. Book it: Sept. 23-25 How much: FREE The gig: Carrboro Music Festival The site: The place: Carrboro The buzz: In its 13th 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 150 local acts: jazz, rock, gospel, country, folk, Americana and just about everything else you can think of. Book it: Sept. 25  How much: FREE (donations accepted)