46th Kent State Folk Fest Starts Thursday
2 shows on opening night; workshops moved to downtown Kent this year
The 46th Kent State Folk Festival once again lays claim to its autumnal residency with concerts and events lined up from tonight through Saturday.
The Kent Stage hosts concerts each night with Folk Alley ‘Round Town driving up the musical temperature throughout Kent on Friday, and a big move comes this year with the free Saturday workshops moving off campus and into downtown Kent.
The folk frenzy kicks off with two main-stage shows on Thursday. Both shows start at 8 p.m. On Manchester Field on the Kent State campus, Delhi 2 Dublin brings a raucous international ﬂavor to the stage. With a mix of Celtic, Bhangra percussion, and Asian spice, the ﬁve members of Delhi 2 Dublin twist multiple genres into a high-energy stage show that has been an international hit at summer festivals, bringing audience members to their feet wherever they go. This concert is presented in conjunction with Kent State University’s Undergraduate Student Government Programming Board.
Singer/songwriters John Gorka and Tracy Grammer co-headline the opening night show at the Kent Stage downtown. With his warm sense of humor and talent at crafting personal and touching songs, Gorka has been an audience favorite since he emerged from the Boston folk music scene in the late 1970s. Grammer rose to prominence as the partner of the late singer/songwriter Dave Carter. After Carter’s death, Grammer has continued to interpret his work, discovering unreleased songs that have added to his considerable library of beautiful, soul-stirring songs.
On Friday, Folk Alley ‘Round Town ﬁlls venues up and down the streets of Kent with folk, roots and acoustic music ranging from intimate solo acts to rowdy bands. Nearly three-dozen bars, clubs, restaurants, churches, shops and other community spaces are committed to presenting free concerts beginning at noon and continuing late into the night.
Also on Friday, the Kent Stage welcomes Over the Rhine with openers Girlyman to the Kent State Folk Festival. Led by husband and wife duo Linford Detweiler and Kar-in Bergquist, Over the Rhine has quietly become very popular. Sparked by Bergquist’s powerful voice and the pair’s intelligent songwriting, fans across the country are drawn to this Cincinnati-based group. Now performing as a quartet, Girlyman takes advantage of skillful vocal harmonies to create engaging folk-pop songs that reﬂect the band
members’ varied life experiences.
Saturday starts off with a seismic shift as the free Community Workshops move off campus to downtown Kent. From noon to 5 p.m., the hour-long workshops will invite musicians and music fans to learn more about everything from Russian folk and jug band music to clogging and arranging music for group sings. Several workshops on the business of being a professional musician will also be presented. A schedule grid for workshops is available on the folk festival website.
For the grand ﬁnale on Saturday, three Legends of Folk come to the Kent Stage. All three headliners – Tom Paxton, the Red Clay Ramblers and John McCutcheon – are making return visits to the Kent State Folk Festival, the longest, continually running folk festival on a college campus in the U.S. A prominent player in the 1960s folk music revival, singer/songwriter Tom Paxton has long believed in the power of a well-written folk song. Paxton was twice nominated for Grammy Awards and received a 2009 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Recording Academy. He has also picked up Lifetime Achievement Awards from ASCAP and the BBC.
For four decades, the Red Clay Ramblers have been taking North Carolina string music to places it has never been. Adding bluegrass, country, rock, New Orleans jazz and more to their old-time mountain music, the Ramblers have traveled around the world and taken their game to Broadway, where they earned a Special Tony Award for Fool Moon in 1999. The band’s musical Lone Star Love or the Merry Wives of Windsor, Texas was debuted by Great Lakes Theater Festival in Cleveland.
Singer/songwriter John McCutcheon started his career by picking up an acoustic guitar but quickly graduated to a roomful of instruments, including ﬁddle, banjo, autoharp, jaw harp and the hammered dulcimer (on which he is considered one of folk’s best performers). When his children were young, McCutcheon used his songwriting skills to create songs for the younger set that engaged them without condescension. His most recent CD is a tribute tied to Woody Guthrie’s centenary.
Tickets are now on sale for all Kent State Folk Festival concerts and are available at the Kent Stage, by phone at 888-718-4253 or online at TheKentStage.com. The Kent Stage is located at 175 E. Main St. in downtown Kent and the box ofﬁce is open Monday through Friday from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. The festival website — KentStateFolkFestival.org — offers artist bios and videos, along with the complete list of free Folk Alley ‘Round Town performances and Community Workshops at venues throughout the city of Kent.