GREENSBORO — Southern rock and blues band the North Mississippi Allstars and eight more artists will perform at the N.C. Folk Festival from Sept. 6 to 8 in center city.
Today's announcement brings to 19 the number of acts announced to date for the festival, a free, outdoor multicultural festival that celebrates the diversity of America’s roots and heritage, as well as North Carolina and regional traditions.
Performers announced today hail from many backgrounds and diverse roots and sounds — from old-time and blues to stunning Brazilian Samba, Scottish and Punjabi folk songs.
They are: The New Smokey Valley Boys, storyteller Kim Weitkamp, Kiran Ahluwalia, Anya Hinkle, Grandfather Mountain Highlanders Pipe Band, NC Brazilian Arts Project, Phil Wiggins Blues House Party and Claire Lynch Band.
The festival has aimed for a lineup that both represents the multicultural communities within the city and introduces new genres to the crowd at large.
“We want people to see themselves on stage,” Amy Grossmann, festival director, said in a news release. “We want them to know that this event is for everyone.”
The artists announced today include:
• North Mississippi Allstars (Southern rock and blues) from Hernando, Miss. Brothers Luther and Cody Dickinson, the core members of the North Mississippi Allstars, grew up just south of Memphis and cut their teeth playing experimental rock and roll together, as well as the roots repertoire pioneered by their father, Jim Dickinson, a legendary producer and session player. Their community was one of collaboration, and the music of the sound of modern Mississippi has been an inspiration for the group. Their music incorporates their father’s concept of roots music as a framework for improvisation and blending experimental/psychedelic excursions into Hill Country anthems.
• The New Smokey Valley Boys (North Carolina old-time) from Mt. Airy. This group of young men has come together to honor one of old time music’s greatest string bands. The original group based out of Surry County was led by the late Benton Flippen and Paul Sutphin from the 1970s all the way through to Flippen’s death in 2011. Though various members came and went, the group was known for its hard driving square dance style, and received numerous awards over the decades.
• Kim Weitkamp (storyteller) from Mount Vernon, Ohio. Kim Weitkamp grew up as the red-headed middle child of exhausted parents. Kim carved out her role as the class comedian at a young age, writing plays and skits and sharing stories that exasperated her parents while thrilling her high school theater teacher. One review said, “Kim is a master at seamlessly building bridges from story to song to story. Like all good storytellers, she evokes both laughter and tears, but her impeccable timing and dead-on anticipation of her listeners’ needs place her at the pinnacle of her craft. Then she pulls her guitar out and you think, where did that come from, that milk and honey voice?”
• Kiran Ahluwalia (Ghazal and Punjabi folk songs from India and Pakistan), from India by way of New York City. Kiran Ahluwalia is a modern exponent of the great vocal traditions of India and Pakistan. “I’ve taken aesthetics I love such as blues, Malian styles, and of course Indian forms and mashed them together in my own way,” she said in the news release.
Her performance is presented by XPO Logistics.
• Anya Hinkle (“Appalachiacana” singer/songwriter) from Asheville. Originally from the mountains of southwest Virginia, Anya Hinkle has developed as a notable songwriter with her Asheville-based “Appalachiacana” band, Tellico. Steeped in the tones of bluegrass and folk but seasoned by travels across the world and back, Hinkle has toured regionally, nationally, and internationally for over a decade. At this year’s MerleFest, Hinkle took home first place in the 2019 Chris Austin Songwriting Contest in the Bluegrass category with “Ballad of Zona Abston,” a song based on a true story of a woman who grew up in a mining town in middle Tennessee.
• Grandfather Mountain Highlanders Pipe Band (Scottish-American pipe band) based in Linville. This is a competition band striving to achieve the highest levels of performance at sanctioned competitions in the South, the eastern United States, Canada and Scotland. Founded in 1974, this year is their 45th anniversary. Members of the band often comment on its “family feel,” and close-knit nature. Composed of many talented players of all ages, and the band seeks to pass on Scottish American history and heritage to younger generations through music.
• NC Brazilian Arts Project (Brazilian Samba & Capoeira) from Charlotte. The NC Brazilian Arts Project was founded in 2016 by Brazilian culture aficionados in the Charlotte and the Triangle areas. It promotes and enriches the North Carolina arts community with their knowledge of and passion for Brazilian folkloric movement forms such as Samba, Afro-Brazilian Dance, Capoeira, Maculelê and percussion.
• Phil Wiggins Blues House Party (Piedmont blues and house party dance) from Takoma Park, Md. and Washington, DC. Phil Wiggins spent childhood summers at his grandmother’s house in Alabama, where in church he absorbed the sounds of traditional call-and-response hymn singing. Attracted to blues harmonica as a young man, he began his performing career and is now considered one of the nation’s top harmonica players. Wiggins is a versatile traditional harmonica player, continuing the Piedmont blues tradition, a gentle and melodic blues style of the mid-Atlantic region. He is a two time winner of the prestigious WC Handy award. Wiggins is also a recipient of the NEA National Heritage Fellowship, one of only three harmonica players to receive the honor. Wiggins will be joined by dancer and choreographer, Junious “House” Brickhouse who is the founder and executive director of Urban Artistry, a Washington D.C.-based organization dedicated to the performance and preservation of art forms inspired by the urban experience.
• Claire Lynch Band (bluegrass) based in Toronto, Ontario. Long recognized and praised as a creative force in acoustic music, Claire Lynch is a pioneer who continually pushes the boundaries of the bluegrass genre. Her career has been decorated with many accolades including three Grammy Award nominations. As one observer wrote, “Listening to Claire Lynch sing is not something to be undertaken casually. [...] She’s an intensely soulful singer, whose distinctive voice resonates with power and strength, yet retains an engaging innocence and crystalline purity. She’s also a songwriter of extraordinary ability who can bring listeners to their feet...or to their knees with her sometimes almost unbearably poignant and insightful lyrics.”
To learn more about these artists and their stories, please visit ncfolkfestival.com/lineup. And keep up with more news, follow us on our social media channels: Facebook: NCFolkFestival, Twitter: @NCFolkFestival and Instagram: @NCFolkFestival.
More performers will be announced as they are confirmed.