The annual Richmond Folk Festival is one of those traditions that we look forward to most here in our hometown. Falling on the second weekend of October, the festival is just as much a celebration of the time of year as it is the music. And like those sunny and warm autumn days, the event comes around quickly and passes by just as fast. In the brief window of three days, the city of Richmond is vibrating with music, culture, and one hell of a good time. It’s a chance to grab a beer down by the river and enjoy performances from a diverse range of regional, national and international acts. Friday the 10th is the first day of the festival. We’re stoked.
The Richmond Folk Festival is an offshoot of the National Folk Festival, which ran in Richmond from 2005 through 2007. It’s incredible to think that the festival has been going strong for 10 years. It really is a testament to how awesome of an event it is and how many people get behind and support it. Organizers are expecting over 200,000 people to attend this year. Remarkably, the festival is still free, and the entire event runs off donations and sponsorship contributions.
For those who who haven’t attended the Richmond Folk Festival in the past, it’s understandable to be unsure of what to expect. “Folk” is a fairly ambiguous and broad genre. In the context of the festival, “folk” serves as an umbrella of sorts for anything and everything with a cultural lineage. Over the past 10-years, the festival has hosted artists of every walk: legendary rhythm & blues singers, high-energy rockabilly bands, Appalachian bluegrass storytellers, innovators of funk, and numerous international heritage acts. The sheer breadth of culture, style, tradition and talent is, to put it lightly, impressive.
There will be over 30 performers this year. Among this incredible pool of talent, there are several musicians that we’re really excited to see:
William Bell was a principal architect of the Southern soul sound based out of Memphis, Tennessee during the 1950s and 60s. Bell’s style of soul merges elements of country, funk and blues. While serving as a writer for Stax Records, Bell is mostly known for penning the blues classic, “Born Under a Bad Sign.”
Jesse McReynolds is a pioneer of the bluegrass genre and many consider him a living legend. In 1997, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded Jesse and his late brother Jim with a National Heritage Fellowship, the nation’s highest honor for folk and traditional artists. Jesse will be performing with his backing band, The Virginia Boys.
It wouldn’t be a folk festival without some country and western music, and Kayton Roberts will be holding up that end of the program. Roberts was around during the golden age of country music and continues many of the traditions from that era today. Watching that man play the steel guitar is an honor and a chance to witness living history.
The Richmond Folk Festival is a celebration of the many cultures and traditions that have influenced American music. It really is one of the best events in town all year, and we highly recommend attending. If you go, keep an eye out for us. We’ll be there.
In the meantime, we put together, Standing On The Moon, a music playlist to help us (and you) get in the spirit of all things folk.
All images appear courtesy of the Richmond Folk Festival