CARRBORO — The Carrboro Musical Festival, sprung off France’s annual Fête de la Musique, is now in its 16th year. Ten thousand people are expected downtown Sunday.
Not bad for the “Paris of the Piedmont.”
A short Saturday program marking the 100th anniversary of the N.C. Folklore Society will kick off the festival, but all this week the Parks and Recreation Department is hosting free outdoor concerts across town.
“The whole idea of the Fête, in France, is that musicians play for free,” said Joy Preslar, one of the festival’s founders. “People wander by, and they might buy a croissant, but it’s like a busking,”
Back in the day, the Music Festival was in June and shared its name with the “Fête de la Musique” in Paris (now known as World Music Day, June 21). Since moving to September, the Carrboro event has expanded and become a draw for local businesses. This year’s festival includes 20 jazz bands. Rock, blues, folk, bluegrass abound.
The Big Fat Gap Band, Mipso, Sarah Shook & the Devil, Jethorse, Killer Filler and other active local bands should be highlights. But with more than 100 bands and 25 venues in one day, festival goers can rest assured there will be something good, wherever they go.
Up-and-comers like Bevel Summers, Morning Brigade and the Virgins Family Band will provide fresh blood. Jazz bands such as the Doug Largent Trio, Triangle Jazz Orchestra and Erich Lieth & One Sun will perform. Fantastico!, whose raucous closing set at the Southern Rail capped last year’s festival, will take the same stage at 9 p.m.
The program is a trove of creative band names. There are lyrical ones, like Jefferson Hart & the Ghosts of the Old North State. Band names that strive for cleverness like See No Weevil and Tea Cup Gin. Raleigh bands like Barrowburn, spinners of Celtic jigs and reels, and Summerglen, an unlikely marimba-and-trombone duo. Evocative, rough-hewn names like the New Town Drunks, or Near-Blind James & Harmonica Bob. Quirky names like Banana Seat. Names that say it all, like Too Many Mandolins.
Pinkerton Raid, the band fronted by former Chapel Hill News reporter Jesse James DeConto, performs at the Station at 10 p.m.
“A lot of people say, ‘I’ve never heard of these bands,’” said event organizer Gerry Williams, who listens to every audition and chooses the acts.
“There are 10 or 20 or 30 bands around here that get talked about all the time,” he said. “There are lots of other great local bands, though. They may not be brilliant, and they may not get a recording contract, but they’ve got talent.”
At the Town Commons, the Kidzu Children’s Museum will host a booth from 1 to 4 p.m. A free bio-diesel bus will shuttle between the Carrboro Plaza park-and-ride lot and downtown from noon to 8 p.m.
For a full list of bands and activities see the The Chapel Hill News this Sunday or go to carrboromusicfestival.com.
For the second year, The Carrboro Recreation and Parks Department will offer a “Music on the Streets” program, a week of free 6 p.m. concerts leading up to the festival.
On Wednesday, the Boat Exclusion and Parafilm will play Weaver Street Market. Thursday evening, Ladies of the Lake will perform Celtic music on the front porch of the TABLE food bank on Weaver Street, and Friday the Bull Town Strutters will bring their signature New Orleans sound to the Modern Fossil Parking Lot.
Organizers try to host “as many different styles as we can, as many different age-groups as we can,” Williams said. “It was that way when it was Fête de la Musique, and we try to do the same thing today.”