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N.C. Folk Festival: Time for a (virtual) weekend of music

N.C. Folk Festival: Time for a (virtual) weekend of music

GREENSBORO — Prepare your computer or television, get snacks and drinks ready, and settle in for three nights of free music. 

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual N.C. Folk Festival and Carolina Blues Festival will go virtual this weekend. 

That means no downtown streets filled with music, food, traditional crafts and spectators enjoying it all.

But there will be a mix of musical styles to enjoy from your home online and on Greensboro Television Network.

Look for mostly North Carolina acts playing blues, bluegrass, country, R&B, soul, pop, hip-hop, funk, rock and old-time tunes.

The performances were recorded live at iconic locations by 7 Cinematics, the Emmy Award-winning video music and streaming production company based in the city.

Thanks to the company's working relationship with streaming service, the talent will get more international exposure.

Following the folk festival segment Saturday night, the blues festival will present a virtual performance at 8 p.m. by Vanessa Ferguson, a local resident and finalist on the television competition, "The Voice."

She headlines a lineup titled "Women of the Blues."

Here are highlights of the lineup in order of appearance:


• Rissi Palmer: The Durham-based Palmer is a country, pop, R&B/soul musician. She debuted in 2007 with the single "Country Girl." It made her the first African American woman to chart a country song since Dona Mason in 1987. Her performance was filmed at the Charlotte Hawkins Brown Museum in Sedalia.

• Justin Harrington, aka Demeanor: The Greensboro-born rapper merges hip-hop and unorthodox folk elements. He and his mother, Lalenja Harrington, performed on the album "Freedom Highway," the second solo studio album by his aunt, Grammy Award-winner Rhiannon Giddens. His performance was filmed at the historic Magnolia House, a segregation-era motel for African Americans traveling the East Coast.

• Chatham County Line: Bluegrass group formed in Raleigh. Its performance was filmed at The Old Mill of Guilford in Oak Ridge.


• Charly Lowry & Friends: This Lumbee-Tuscarora musician from Robeson County was a contestant on Season 3 of competitive reality television show "American Idol." She filmed her performance at the Magnolia House.

• Veronika Jackson (34th annual Carolina Blues Festival): The Georgia-based acoustic folk/blues artist will pay tribute to the late Elizabeth "Libba" Cotten, an American blues and folk musician, singer and songwriter from Carrboro. The performance by the Florida native was filmed at the Underground Railroad tree at Guilford College. "We really thought it would highlight our context for our performance," said Atiba Berkley, president of the Piedmont Blues Preservation Society, which joined forces with this year's folk festival.

• The Hamiltones: The Charlotte and Greensboro-based R&B/soul trio started as backup vocalist for Grammy Award-winning soul singer Anthony Hamilton. Members are Corey "2E" Williams II from Greensboro, Tony Lelo from Morrisville and J. Vito, who grew up in Anson County. The group filmed its show in front of the International Civil Rights Center and Museum in center city.

• The Piedmont Blues Preservation Society will present its 34th annual Carolina Blues Festival virtually at 8 p.m. on and Vanessa Ferguson will headline a lineup titled "Women of the Blues."

The blues society also will present the Mike Carr Junior Bluesman Award to Brendan Hinch and the Keeping the Blues Alive Lifetime Achievement Award to Irish Spencer. 


• Diali Cissokho & Kaira Ba: This Pittsboro-based, kora-led dance band combines West African traditionals, funk, rock, blues and elements of jazz. Their performance was filmed at the Greensboro Rotary Carousel at the Greensboro Science Center.

• Charlie Hunter: This seven-string guitar virtuoso plays jazz, jazz fusion, acid jazz, jazz rock and funk. He now lives in Greensboro. His performance was filmed at Center City Park downtown.

• The Burnett Sisters Band: The family band from Boone plays old-time music. Its performance was filmed at Gateway Gardens.

• Mandolin Orange: Americana/folk-based duo from Chapel Hill. Their performance was filmed at First National Bank Field.

Contact Dawn DeCwikiel-Kane at 336-373-5204 and follow @dawndkaneNR on Twitter.

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