Summer Festival Guide: The List


The gig: Asheville Music Jamboree

The site:

The place: Deerfields, Asheville, NC

The buzz: “Not your standard sardine can festival, AMJam’s site boasts nearly 1,000 acres of space filled with apple orchards, mature shade trees, lush grass, hiking trails, wooded camping areas, streams, ponds and gorgeous mountain views.”

One(s) to watch: Gov’t Mule, Dumpstaphunk, Burning Spear, Keller and the Keels and James McMurtry

Book it: May 23-25

How much: $145 (three-day pass, extra for RV and vehicle camping)

The gig: Fiddler’s Grove Festival

The site:

The place: Fiddler’s Grove Campground; Union Grove, NC

The buzz: “The oldest continuous ole time fiddler’s competition in North America”

One(s) to watch: The certified old-time fiddlers (the competition is open to musicians over 55 who play only by ear and have had no formal training)

Book it: May 23-25

How much: $50 weekend pass/$10-$30 per day; camping available

The gig: First annual Bryson City Bluegrass Festival

The site:

The place: Swain County Center for the Arts; Bryson City, NC

The buzz: Sponsored by SAFE, which aids victims of domestic violence in Swain County

One(s) to watch: Cody Shuler and Pine Mountain Railroad

Book it: May 31

How much: $15

The gig: Festival in the Grove

The site:

The place: Davidson County; corner of Highway 109 and Barnes Farm Road

The buzz: A day-long pickin’ fest with proceeds going to Victory Junction Gang Camp

One(s) to watch: Kickin’ Grass – high-energy bluegrass, rock and country covers and some originals

Book it: May 31

How much: $15, $10 advance

The gig: Ocrafolk Music and storytelling Festival

The site:

The place: Ocracoke Island, NC

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: More than 30 acts, including Baby Dee & Free Moustache, billed as an “Ocracoke supergroup”

Book it: June 6-8

How much: [?? 252-928-3411]

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: The Blue Ridge Music Makers Guild holds court at the Stringbean Café all weekend, hosting jam sessions and giving lessons on their lending library of instruments

Book it: June 13-14

How much: Free, donations appreciated

The gig: Charlie Poole Music Festival

The site:

The place: Eden Fairgrounds, Eden, NC

The buzz: Three days of pickin’, grinnin’ and fiddlin’ in honor of the legacy of mill worker and banjoist Charlie Poole.

One(s) to watch: The Freighthoppers, Uncle Henry’s Favorites, Waking Up Tillie, the New North Carolina Ramblers and Martin & Johnson, with competitions all day Saturday including bluegrass fiddle, clawhammer banjo and best Charlie Poole song, plus a Saturday night concert by Grammy Award-winner Jim Lauderdale

Book it: June 13-15

How much: $10-$20

The gig: Groverfest 2008

The site:

The place: VanHoy Campground; Union Grove, NC

The buzz: “[B]rings together genres of music from across the board for an all-ages event geared toward exposing our area’s talent and providing a safe and affordable recreation for a diverse experience unlike any other around.”

One(s) to watch: Bands with great names like Yesterday’s Gravy, Fat Cabbage, Hollywood Red, 5 Finger Discount and the Mud Bunnies

Book it: June 13-14

How much: $15, camping $10

The gig: Twin City RibFest

The site:

The place: Downtown Winston-Salem

The buzz: Three days and nights of music and meat off the bone, with a Winston Cup traveling museum, a kids’ area and a rib competition.

One(s) to watch: Three to four shows a night, hot ones, including the everybodyfields, Thacker Dairy Road, Hot Politics, Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band, Possum Jenkins and the Two Man Gentlemen band; also look for Foxy Moxy’s sideshow tent

Book it: June 12-14

How much: $6 (kids free)

The gig: Malcolm Blue Bluegrass Festival

The site:

The place: Aberdeen, NC

The buzz: Not much… couldn’t even find a list of performers online

One(s) to watch: We hear you can feed the chickens.

Book it: June 14

How much: ?? (910-944-7558)

The gig: The Magnolia Baroque Festival

The site:

The place: Various venues; Winston-Salem, NC

The buzz: “[V]irtuosic performances of Baroque orchestral, solo, chamber music and dance celebrating the theme, Triumph of Love.”

One(s) to watch: Check out Thursday night’s installment, The Excitement of Improvisation, featuring a rendition of early baroque-era number “The Harmonious Blacksmith” performed on harpsichord, lute and theorbo

Book it: June 18-22

How much: $25/day, $20 seniors, $10 students

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 Embers shag it up on Thursday night

Book it: June 19-21

How much: Free, donations accepted

The gig: North Carolina State Bluegrass Fest

The site:

The place: Happy Holiday Campground; Cherokee, NC

The buzz: Wall-to-wall bluegrass in a state renowned for the form

One(s) to watch: Eighteen acts, including heavy hitters Mike Snider, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver and Ralph Stanley, each with 90-minute sets at the end of each night

Book It: June 19-21

How much: $30-day advance, $35 after June 9; 30-day passes are $75-$85

The gig: North Carolina Country Music Festival

The site:

The place: Fort Fisher Air Force Recreation Area; Kure beach, NC

One(s) to watch: Headliner Joe Diffie has been performing since he was four years old, garnering 12 number-one hits, a CMA award, a Grammy, two platimun albums, induction into the Grand Ole Opry and a notable duet with Mary Chapin Carpenter, “Not Too Much to Ask”

Book it: June 21

How much: $17 advance, $20 at gate, $5 kids

The gig: Inaugural Vortex Music Festival

The site:

The place: Asheville Civic Center

The buzz: A brand-new music festival in the friendly confines of downtown Asheville, this one has plenty of the live stuff plus DJs and a moog stage featuring weird, weird sounds

One(s) to watch: Toubab Krewe, Laura Reed & Deep Pocket, SeepeopleS, Perpetual Groove

Book it: June 27-28

How much: $30, $50 day of show

The gig: EMF

The site:

The place: Various Triad locations

The buzz: A huge lineup of classical musicians, conductors, small groups and orchestras along with a Fringe series that’s a little more hip

One(s) to watch: We love the EMF Fringe series, which this year includes the Greencards, Lee Roy Parnell, “Steady Rollin'” Bob Margolin and Trombone Shorty

Book it: July 5-Aug. 1

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, NC

The buzz: “The greatest steam, gas and antique farm machinery show in the Southeast.”

One(s) to watch: TBA

Book it: July 1-5

How much: $13 ($6 kids)

The gig: Fun Fourth Festival

The site:

The place: Downtown Greensboro

The buzz: Greensboro’s 23rd annual Fourth of July celebration

One(s) to watch: Carolina Chocolate Drops, Black & Blue

Book it: June 28-July 4

How much: Free, or $10 for block party

The gig: Christmas in July Festival

The site:

The place: West Jefferson, NC

The buzz: Activities include a Civil War reenactment and a square dance

One(s) to watch: Lots of music, but we’re looking forward to the Mayberry impersonators, including Barney Fife, Gomer Pyle and Betty Lou

Book it: July 5

How much: Free

The gig: Heavy Rebel Weekender

The site:

The place: Millennium Center, Winston-Salem

The buzz: “Top soil is a wonderful thing for mud wrestling!”

One(s) to watch: “Three stages running in separate “bars,” all in one building! Ranging from rockabilly, rock and roll, psychobilly, honky tonk, ska to punk rock!”

Book it: July 6-8

How much: $25 (one day) $70 (weekend)

The gig: FloydFest 6

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: Wow; dozens, including the Avett Brothers, Rusted Root, Amos Lee, Dumpstaphunk, Donna the Buffalo, David Grisman Quartet, the Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band, Giant Panda Geurilla Dub Squad, and an emerging artist series with a couple dozen more

Book it: July 24-27

How much: $25-$730

The gig: Cape Fear Blues Festival

The site:

The place: Wilmington, NC

The buzz: Blues on the beach courtesy of the Cape Fear Blues Society

One(s) to watch: Still in the planning stages, but last year’s featured 10 national and local acts

Book it: July 25-27

How much: TBA

The gig: BeleChere

The site:

The place: Downtown Asheville

The buzz: “Bele chere means ‘beautiful living.'”

One(s) to watch: Travis Tritt, Edwin McCain, the Wailers, Cowboy Mouth and lots, lots more; also: the Purina Ultimate Air Dogs

Book it: July 25-27

How much: Free

The gig: Sneads Ferry Shrimp Festival

The site:

The place: Sneads Ferry, NC

The buzz: A festival with its own song, 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)

One(s) to watch: The lineup still in the early planning stages, with no announced acts as of yet

Book it: Aug. 11-12

How much: TBA

The gig: Winterville Watermelon Festival

The site:

The place: Winterville, NC

The buzz: The 22nd annual festival dedicated to that most succulent of fruits.

One(s) to watch: No lineup posted as of yet, but in the past they had Travis Tritt (seriously!)

Book it: Aug. 23-25

How much: Free

The gig: Happy Valley Old-time Fiddlers’ Convention

The site:

The place: Jones Farm; Lenoir, NC

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. 29-31

How much: $5, $10 camping

The gig: Festival in the Park

The site:

The place: Freedom Park, Charlotte

The buzz: In its 44th year, the festival has been ranked among the top 200 in the US by Sunshine Artists magazine

One(s) to watch: Special stages for kids, clowns, magicians and folk musicians. On the main stage look for Peralta, the Spongetones and Wink Keziah

Book it: Sept. 18-21

How much: Free

The gig: Carrboro Music Festival

The site:

The place: Carrboro

The buzz: In its 11th year, the day-long 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 well over a hundred acts

Book it: Sept. 28

How much: Free, donations accepted

Out of the Way

The gig: Spoleto Festival USA

The site:

The place: Various venues, Charleston, SC

The buzz: “[O]ne of the world’s major arts festivals, presenting 100 world premieres and 93 American premieres since its inception in 1977.”

One(s) to watch: Monkey: Journey to the West, martial arts musical theater based on 400-year-old Chinese mythology

Book it: May 23-June 8

How much: TBA

The gig: Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival

The site:

The place: Manchester, Tenn.

The buzz: It’s only the biggest, baddest and best music festival of its time.

One(s) to watch: Oh god… Pearl Jam, Metallica, Widespread Panic, Kanye West, Robert Plant & Allison Krauss, Willie Nelson, the Raconteurs, My Morning Jacket, BB King, Phil Lesh & Friends, the Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi Soul Stew Revival, Les Claypool, Stephen Marley, Dweezil Zappa… and if that’s not enough for you, there’s like a hundred more

Book it: June 12-15

How much: About $250 for a four-day pass

The gig: Pitchfork Music Festival

The site:

The place: Union Park, Chicago

The buzz: “With so many blockbuster festivals gouging their attendees out of absolutely obscene sums of money, only to confine them in uncomfortable, tight spaces and skimp on basic necessities, our goal is to do the right thing: That is, to create a reasonably priced summer music festival that provides an overwhelmingly positive, comfortable and fun festival experience for both attendees and musicians.”

One(s) to watch: Public Enemy, the Hold Steady, Vampire Weekend, Jarvis Jocker, Animal Collective, Spoon, Dinosaur Jr. and el Guincho, to name a few

Book it: July 18-20

How much: $30/day, multi-day passes available

The gig: Midwest Music Summit

The site:

The place: Various venues, Indianapolis

The buzz: “The top emerging artist event in the Midwest”

One(s) to watch: Lineup TBA, but the 2006 installment featured Cat Power, Fall Out Boy and Brazil.

Book it: Aug. 7-9

How much: $TBA

The gig: Austin City Limits Music Festival

The site:

The place: Zilker Park; Austin, Texas

The buzz: A three-day music orgy put on by the people from the TV show

One(s) to watch: Another hot one with Foo Fighters, Beck, John Fogerty, Neko Case, the Black Keys, David Byrne, Gnarls Barkley, G. Love & Special Sauce, Silversun Pickups, Galactic, Okkervil River, Blues Traveler, Duffy, the Mars Volta and so much more it’s sickening.

Book it: Sept. 26-28

How much: $170 3-day pass