Fall festivals

What’s better than a hot summer day outdoors listening to live music? A cool fall day, with a backdrop of fall leaves, spent outdoors listening to live music! So it’s time for some great fall festivals.

Here in Roanoke, the Greek Festival is this weekend. It features lots of great food, music and even offers to go orders. The Henry Street Heritage Festival is adding a nighttime music festival this year.

Bristol hosts Rhythm and Roots Reunion September 20-22. It’s an inexpensive festival and it’s set in historic downtown Bristol, so no hiking through fields to get to the music. Just a short walk downtown and you’re in the festival. Big stages are set up in the streets in several areas, one with the cool Bristol VA TN A Good Place to Live sign as a backdrop. And there’s the beautiful old Paramount Center for the Arts, a large indoor venue. You can also catch music at a variety of bars and restaurants along State Street. Not only can you stand with one foot in Tennessee and one in Virginia, but State Street is where country music was born during the historic Bristol Sessions. So Bristol is a town that gets music and love of music is central to the culture. R&R features too many bands to list but headliners range from Lucinda Williams to the Masters of Bluegrass, featuring Del McCoury. Keller Williams, the Traveling McCourys, Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out, Spirit Family Reunion, Red Molly and my brother, Scott Thomas, is playing with JP Parsons. The best part is that it really is a reunion!

The same weekend, The Americana Festival is in Nashville. I’d love to go there sometime. It’s a great line up including Roseanne Cash, Darrell Scott, Steep Canyon Rangers, the Stringdusters, Buddy Miller & Jim Lauderdale and Lisa Marie Presley.

The International Bluegrass Music Association hosts a stellar line up of bluegrass in their World of Bluegrass festival the last weekend of September in Raleigh, NC.  In addition, the state barbeque championship is held in downtown Raleigh too and there’s a free street festival with many of the same bands playing at World of Bluegrass.

Back in Virginia, The Festy Experience hits in October during Columbus Day weekend, Oct. 10-13. Held in Nelson County, it’s an eclectic lineup of bluegrass and roots music. Hosted by The Infamous Stringdusters, they’ve invited Railroad Earth, Nicky Blum & The Gramblers, Aoife O’Donovan, JJ Grey & Mofro, Chris Thile & Michael Daves and the John Scofield Uberjam band  this year as well as festival favorites Lake Street Dive, Della Mae and David Wax Museum.