For five consecutive days this week Kent “will be the epicenter of a musical celebration that crosses generations and cultures,” say organizers of the 45th annual Kent State Folk Festival.
Presented by and , the festival includes four headlining concerts, more than 50 free performances at 36 venues throughout the city Friday during Folk Alley ‘Round Town and 41 free workshops Saturday at the Kent State University Student Center.
Opening the festival at 8 p.m. Wednesday at University Auditorium at Cartwright Hall is the Grammy Award-winning quartet Carolina Chocolate Drops. The group’s multi-instrumental interpretation of contemporary and folk music is infused with the energy of a new generation.
The remainder of the festival’s “mainstage concerts” will take place at , starting with an 8 p.m. show Thursday featuring “the rabble-rousing” Dirty Dozen Brass Band. The group, founded 30 years ago as a traditional New Orleans brass band, has an international reputation for genre-bending romps and high-octane performances. Opening act will be Mo' Mojo.
Music aficionados may have a tough time deciding which of the more than 50 Folk Alley ‘Round Town performances to attend Friday. This year there are 36 venues – from pubs to churches and stores – participating from 11 a.m. until the bars close at 2 a.m.
“That’s a lot of continuous music,” said Cynthia Tuck, ‘Round Town coordinator. “This is the perfect opportunity to check out a variety of music styles without a commitment. If a band isn’t your style, you can just walk down the street to another venue.”
Tuck is pleased with the many types of venues participating because it opens the event up to families with young children.
“There are plenty of venues that don’t serve alcohol, so you can take your kids to enjoy the music,” Tuck said. “One of the things I loved seeing last year was little kids dancing to the music in the alleyway at Acorn Alley.”
She said those who don’t want to deal with the challenge of parking downtown and walking between performance locations can visit one of numerous non-downtown venues. “We have hit almost all the different directions of the boundaries of Kent,” Tuck said.
for a downloadable/printable pdf list of Friday's venues performers.
From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, musicians, dancers and storytellers will sit side-by-side with members of the public to share knowledge and a love of folk at the annual free workshops at the Kent State Student Center.
Artists from across the region will spotlight a variety of instruments, techniques and styles that contribute to the folk, Americana and roots music genres. Free parking is available in the Student Center lot off of East Summit Street.
for a downloadable/printable pdf list of Saturday's workshops.
On Saturday at 8 p.m., the next wave of folk artists is highlighted when Low Anthem plays the Kent Stage. Part of a new generation of acoustic-based indie bands, Low Anthem has received rave reviews for its “smoky, whiskey-drenched mix of folk, blues, jazz and Americana music.” Opening will be Sleepy Sun and David Wax Museum.
Yarrow rose to fame during the folk music revival of the 1960s. His songwriting talents have added to the folk lexicon with the iconic "Puff, the Magic Dragon" and popular songs including "Day is Done," "Light One Candle" and "The Great Mandala."
Tickets for all “mainstage concerts” can be purchased in person at The Kent Stage, and , by phone at 330-677-5005 and online at www.KentStage.org. Kent State University students may buy discount tickets for all shows by presenting a valid KSU ID at the time of purchase.