46th Kent State Folk Festival, Sept. 20-22

The 46th Kent State Folk Festival once again lays claim to its autumnal residency with concerts and events lined up from Thursday, Sept. 20, through Saturday, Sept. 22. 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 downtown for the free Saturday workshops.

WKSU Executive Director Al Bartholet said, “We are really excited about this year’s line-up! The ‘Round Town buzz has already started and having workshops downtown will add even more of a community atmosphere to one of the Kent State Folk Fest’s most beloved events.”

Thursday, Sept. 20

The folk frenzy kicked off with two mainstage shows on Thursday, Sept. 20. Both shows began at 8 p.m. On Manchester Field at Kent State University, Delhi 2 Dublin brought a raucous international flavor to the stage. With a mix of Celtic, Bhangra percussion and Asian spice, the five members of Delhi 2 Dublin twisted 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 was presented in conjunction with Kent State’s Center for Student Involvement.

Singer/songwriters John Gorka and Tracy Grammer co-headlined the opening night show at the Kent Stage located on Main Street in Kent. 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.

Friday, Sept. 21

On Friday, Folk Alley ‘Round Town filled 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 were committed to presenting free concerts beginning at noon and continuing late into the night. Find the ‘Round Town performance matrix online at www.KentStateFolkFestival.org.

Also on Sept. 21, the Kent Stage welcomed Over the Rhine with openers Girlyman to the Kent State Folk Festival. Led by husband and wife duo, Linford Detweiler and Karin 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, Sept. 22

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. 

view a schedule of the community workshops

For the grand finale on Sept. 22, 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 United States. A prominent player in the ‘60s 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 also has 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.

ticket information

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 www.TheKentStage.com. The Kent Stage is located at 175 East 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 – www.KentStateFolkFestival.org – offers artist bios and videos, along with the complete list of free Folk Alley ‘Round Town performances Community Workshops at venues throughout the city of Kent.

The lineup for the 46th Kent State Folk Festival (all concerts at The Kent Stage unless otherwise noted):

  • Thursday, Sept. 20 at 8 p.m.: Delhi 2 Dublin (Manchester Field at Kent State University) – FREE.
  • Thursday, Sept. 20 at 8 p.m.: John Gorka and Tracy Grammer – $21.
  • Friday, Sept. 21 (various times): Folk Alley ‘Round Town (35 venues throughout Kent) – FREE.
  • Friday, Sept. 21 at 8 p.m.: Over the Rhine with Girlyman – $26.
  • Saturday, Sept. 22, 12 p.m.-5 p.m.: Workshops (9 venues throughout Kent) – FREE.
  • Saturday, Sept. 22 at 8 p.m.: Legends of Folk featuring Tom Paxton, The Red Clay Ramblers and John McCutcheon – $43 gold circle, $30 reserved.

Festival support is provided by Kent State, the city of Kent, Cascade Auto Group, Great Lakes Brewing Company, Audio-Technica, Lehman’s, PARTA and Dominion East Ohio.

WKSU broadcasts NPR and classical music at 89.7 FM, and is a service of Kent State University. WKSU programming is also heard on WKRW 89.3 FM in Wooster, WKRJ 91.5 FM in Dover/New Philadelphia, WKSV 89.1 FM in Thompson, WNRK 90.7 in Norwalk and W239AZ 95.7 FM in Ashland. The station broadcasts four HD Radio channels – adding WKSU-2 Folk Alley, WKSU-3 The Classical Channel and WKSU-4 The News Channel to the analog broadcast schedule.

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UPDATED: Wednesday, April 24, 2024 10:40 AM
Ann VerWiebe