Festival floodgates are officially open
By: Katei Cranford
May is for music festivals apparently, because mother of mercy, there’s a bunch of music festivals happening this month.
In Greensboro, the second-annual Mayday on McGee Street Festival pops-off on May 4. The block party is a collaboration between Little Brother Brewing and Uncle John’s Bone, with proceeds benefiting Jah Works, Inc.
The Mantras, Dr. Bacon, The Wright Ave., Sons of Paradise, and Ranford Almond are on hand to rock the block of Elm and McGee from 2 p.m. to midnight.
Dr. Bacon is a pretty big score for Hamburger Square, and they’re pulling double-duty in the North Carolina festival scene over the weekend with an appearance at Shakori Hills, which will run May 2-5 on a farm just outside of Pittsboro.
The bi-annual grassroots fest led by Donna the Buffalo features a handful of stages, overnight camping and good vibes in the Chatham County pines. Victoria Victoria is one Triad artist on the four-day bill, which also includes Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real, Diali Cissokho & Kaira Ba, Travers Brothership, and a few dozen other rootsy acts from all over the world.
Fans of Megan Jean and the KFB can catch them at a couple of festivals over the coming weeks. In addition to Shakori, the Charleston duo is scheduled for Glendonfest, which runs May 18-19.
Glendonfest brings “farm party” to a whole new level. Songbird Laura Jane Vincent corrals musicians on her Moore County family homestead for a weekend of fun, dancing, and medical oddities. According to organizers, ”the site was once owned by a multi-generational family of country doctors. The grounds contain a fully preserved doctors office built circa 1820, filled with trinkets and tools of a fascinating variety.”
As if Shakori and Glendonfest don’t adequately highlight small towns doing big things, the folks behind Carolina Rebellion are blasting into Richmond County for Epicenter Fest, May 10-12.
The massive festival takes place at the Rockingham Festival Grounds, aka “the Rock,” a new endeavor which combines the Rockingham Speedway and Dragway into a festival site complete with overnight camping options. Metal at a raceway? You’ve gotta love North Carolina.
The lineup and location make for a redneck mall-goth paradise: Korn, Tool, Foo Fighters, Rob Zombie, Judas Priest, the Crystal Method, the Cult, 311, Evanescence, Bush, +LIVE+, Black Label Society, Mastodon, Meshuggah, Circa Survive, Killswitch Engage, High On Fire, Tom Morello, HO99O9, and the Dirty Nil; and that’s hardly the whole roster.
Back in the Triad proper, Greensboro double-fists festival fun May 16-19, with the 33rd-annual Carolina Blues Festival and the Greensboro Bound Literary Festival converging on downtown at the same time.
Hosted by the Piedmont Blues Preservation Society, the “longest-running Blues festival in the Southeast” will feature House of Dues, Melva Houston, Jon Shain, Clark Stern and The Musical Rewards, and Dom Flemons in Lebauer Park on May 18. A pre-party, hosted by folks from 90.1 FM and Strictly Social will go down the night before at Cafe Europa.
For the bookworms, Greensboro Bound will bring authors, panels and workshops to various venues throughout downtown over the three-day literary celebration, culminating in a discussion between “Righteous Babe” Ani DiFranco and Rhiannon Giddens at Harrison Auditorium on May 19.
Festival cheer flows South on May 18 with the third-annual Cheerwine Festival in downtown Salisbury. Smash Mouth—yes, Smash Mouth—headlines with Live House, Stella Rising, and the Southern Gothic being but a few other acts slated in celebration of that sweet cherry soda. The ‘90s festival influence doesn’t stop as the Gears and Guitars Festival returns to Winston-Salem from May 23-26.
Beginning with a Dash game sandwiched between sets from Watchtower, (a Dave Matthews cover band,) the heavily-’90s festival goes all weekend. Organizers aim to “light up Bailey Park” with performances by Trampled by Turtles, The Infamous Stringdusters, Drive-By Truckers, Stone Temple Pilots, and Dishwalla, amongst others.
More into food and drink, or film?
The fifth-annual Carolina Brewsfest will feature 40 craft brewers at the Mendenhall Transportation Terminal in High Point on May 11. The Winston-Salem Greek Festival goes down May 17-19, and the LUNAFest film festival is at the Community Theatre of Greensboro on May 23.
It’s not even summer and the festival season is hot. June has its own surprises with the Summer Solstice celebration, Cigar Box Festival, and Greensboro Zinefest among several others. But for now, it’s May, and the festival floodgates have officially opened. Let the games begin!
Katei Cranford is a Triad music nerd who hosts the Tuesday Tour Report, a radio show that runs like a mixtape of bands touring the following week, 5-7p.m. on WUAG 103.1fm.