North Carolina Folk Festival turns 10

This year’s event promises a spectrum of genres

Asheville’s Holler Choir performs at The Flat Iron in Greensboro. (Courtesy Savannah Thorne / NC Folk Fest)

The North Carolina Folk Festival is pulling out all the stops for its 10th anniversary celebration on Sept. 6-8. More than 45 bands will light up Greensboro for three days with a veritable heat map of spectacular artists performing on five stages. And the best part? It’s all free.

Funk & Wagnalls dictionary defines folk as “relating to the traditional art or culture of a community or nation.” As a genre, folk music is often painted with a narrow brush, suggesting an old-time, acoustic, Peter Paul and Mary-like vibe. But “folk” and “folk music” are about self-expression through art, using any instrument, voice, artistic vision or recipe, and a community’s relishing of that expression together. NC Folk Festival goes by that definition in spades. This year’s event promises a spectrum of genres, from gospel and jazz to bluegrass and funk, with all types from hither and yon to boot.


Many of the state’s beloved bands and artists are naturally in the festival lineup — more than half. MIPSO, formed by UNC Chapel Hill students, has gained a following across North Carolina, the U.S. and Europe with its distinct Americana-rock sound. The band will close out the festival on Sunday, Sept. 8.

Greensboro’s Molly McGinn is one of several local artists playing at this year’s festival. (Courtesy Savannah Thorne / NC Folk Fest)

On a seemingly meteoric rise, Asheville’s Holler Choir combines all the elements of traditional Appalachian music yet defies easy genre classification, evading the confines of folk, Americana, country or even bluegrass. Other N.C. acts include Sam Fribush Trio, which is Greensboro’s jazz organist Fribush with jazz guitar master Charlie Hunter and drummer Calvin Napper; Tae Lewis, a North Carolina native and former contestant on NBC’s “The Voice;” and Rissi Palmer, the “Color Me Country” podcast host, Durham resident and a performer at the Grand Ole Opry.

“We are so excited to bring in some of the best bands in North Carolina,” said Folk Fest executive director Jodee Ruppel. “We’re going to have a stage dedicated to North Carolina.”

Texican Rock trio Los Lonely Boys, from San Angelo, Texas, who topped the charts in 2004 with their hit single, “Heaven,” will perform at the festival on Saturday, Sept. 7. The War and Treaty, a husband-wife duo, takes the stage on Friday, Sept. 6. The pair earned a Grammy nomination for New Artist of the Year and have graced the stage at The Grammys and the Academy of Country Music Awards ceremonies. Their hit song “Hey Driver,” recorded with country star Zach Bryan, was a massive hit last year, and they were selected to open for the Rolling Stones in July.

Abby Hamilton and her band perform at a North Carolina Folk Festival preview show. (Courtesy Savannah Thorne / NC Folk Fest)

Among the expanding roster of artists, NC Folk Fest is bringing Richmond’s Puerto Rican powerhouse ensemble Bio Ritmo and must-see newcomer Abby Hamilton from Kentucky. Hamilton’s vocal prowess and captivating band invoke Lucinda Williams and The Velvet Underground, not to mention performances from the Pyschodelics and Susto of Charleston, South Carolina, and Olive and Klug of Portland, Oregon.

“This lineup is incredible, and we are ecstatic that we can offer this amazing music to everyone for free,” said Ruppel. “This is the ultimate festival for all music lovers, and we are excited to showcase all that folk music and the city of Greensboro has to offer. Folk is about the community coming together around music, art and food. We aim to introduce festival goers to all variations of folk while we push the boundaries of what is folk.”

In concert with a growing list of Greensboro’s community of restaurants, breweries, shops and volunteers eager to usher in NC Folk Festival’s 10th anniversary, Ruppel hopes to spotlight the city through music, art and the true definition of “folk.”

To learn more about the 2024 NC Folk Festival and view the full artist lineup, visit and sign up for their e-newsletter.