Homegrown Music: Finding Folk Music Festivals

Folk music festivals take place all over the U.S. every year. Here are some info sources to help you find one in your area.


| May/June 1979



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Marc Bristol and his Washington State grassroots musician pals would be right at home performing at folk music festivals with their gutbucket bass, washboard, jug, and axe (which is just a gag).


PHOTO: TOM ALLEN

Even homesteaders need to relax and enjoy themselves from time to time, right? And almost everybody these days wants to cut his or her cost of living. So how about a little do-it-yourself entertainment?

That's what this column is about. Homegrown music... and sometimes homemade musical instruments to play it on.

If you happen to be up in my neck of the woods this Memorial Day weekend, be sure to drop by Seattle, Washington and catch the Northwest Regional Folklife Festival. This four-day musical extravaganza will feature fiddlers, folk singers, string bands, traditional Indian dancers, and more! I can just about guarantee that anyone who's able to attend will have a strummin' and pickin' whale of a time!

Of course, not many of you musicmakin' MOTHER EARTH NEWS readers are likely to be in my specific corner of the U.S. on that particular weekend. But then again, our Northwest get-together will hardly be this year's only such gathering. Lucky for all of us, more than a thousand fine festivals will be held all over North America in '79. So the chances are good that one or more folk music festivals will be taking place just a guitar pick's throw away from you!

If you can locate a festival within range of your vehicle and budget, do make it a point to get there. Such shindigs will include everything from flat-picking championships to autoharp workshops, are generally held out in the fresh air, and often even feature "open microphone" times when anyone (and that might mean you) can get up and play a tune! Nine times out of ten, though, the planned activities—no matter how great they may be—end up taking a back seat to the spontaneous showside jam sessions that are typical of large musical "happenings".

OK, I've got you hooked, right? You're ready to polish up the washboard, clean out the blow notes of your harmonica, and go? But wait ... exactly where will that nearby jubilee be held?

Well, there are far too many festivals scheduled for me to list them all here. Besides, I'm writing this column in January. By the time you have a chance to read it (probably sometime in May) many of the get-togethers will have changed their dates, and other new shindigs that weren't even planned at the beginning of the year will have been organized

So, what I will do is point you in the direction of a number of publications that do provide either regional, national, or "special interest" (usually relating to one instrument) festival listings.





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