The weather cools off nicely and the days and nights are perfect for live music. The mid-Atlantic area has several great bluegrass and Americana festivals throughout the fall.
Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion – happening September 15-17 is a great downtown festival covering several blocks of the twin cities of Bristol Virginia/Tennessee. Large outdoor stages, small intimate venues, the beautiful Paramount Center for the Arts feature music from country, Americana, bluegrass and alternative country. As a bonus, it’s one of the more inexpensive festivals and there’s always more music than you can possibly take in.
Bristol is the Birthplace of Country Music and the festival is connected to the wonderful Birthplace Museum. Definitely worth a visit during festival weekend or a good reason for a return visit. Music history is always an important component of the festival. This year, an updated Farm and Fun Time recreates the popular radio show and another show celebrates the 90th Anniversary of the 1927 Bristol Sessions, where country music was born.
Americana Fest – Nashville, Tennessee September 12-17. This is an outstanding lineup of Americana artists. Some favorites include The Lil Smokies, Colin Hay, Leeann Womack, Webb Wilder, Blind Boys of Alabama, Buddy Miller, Lukas Nelson (Willie’s son), Jim Lauderdale, North Mississippi All Stars, Robert Cray and Hi Rhythm and the Steel Wheels. Wow!
World of Bluegrass is the annual festival produced by the International Bluegrass Music Association in Raleigh, North Carolina. Wide Open Bluegrass is the festival portion of the week – on September 29-30. Big (ticketed) shows are held in the PNC Ampitheater and a big variety of free shows are at different stages in downtown Raleigh. This year, WOB features Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers, The Infamous Stringdusters leading the Wide Open Jam, the Traveling McCourys with Del McCoury, Jerry Douglas and Sam Bush, Lonesome River Band, Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver, Balsam Range and much more. This is a bucket lister if you like bluegrass!
The Festy Experience – Nelson County, Arrington, Virginia October 5-8. A great October festival with a great line up of bluegrass and Americana. Hosted by the Stringdusters, this year’s line up features Drive By Truckers, Ani Difranco, Sam Bush Band, Joan Osborne (yay!!) and the Jerry Douglas Band, Cabinet, Della Mae, Billy Strings and Sarah Siskind and Sunliner to name a few. Also, the best gospel set of any festival with the GarrettGrass Gospel Hour which is a wonderful and uplifting way to start any festival day.
Hit the road. Buy your tickets. While you are there, buy some albums and merch to support these hard-working musicians. By all means, get out and enjoy the music!