Roadside Americana: Oklahoma – Tennessee

50 States OK-TN


You can kick it old school at the Oklahoma International Bluegrass Festival, and there ain’t nothin’ wrong with that. Or you can catch up with what the Urban Tulsa Weekly has dubbed the “New Tulsa Sound” movement. “You should also have it circled on your calendar if you love Red Dirt or local blues,” UTW writes of the Stone River Music Festival, “because the festival touches on all of it.” Last year marked the fourth annual gathering and featured such homegrown Tulsa talent as the Red Dirt Rangers, Jacob Tovar & the Saddle Tramps, and Grazzhopper.

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Since 1995, the Sisters Folk Festival, held the weekend after Labor Day, has been a songwriter’s and picker’s paradise in a picturesque setting of mountains and lakes. Featured acts have included Natalie MacMaster, Tim O’Brien, Jesse Winchester, Chris Smither, Dave Carter, Jon Cleary, The Subdudes, John Gorka, Ruthie Foster, the Waifs, the Wailin’ Jennys, and many more. Its Americana Project brings music education to local schools, and the festival fosters songwriting through its Americana Song Academy, Sept. 2–5, 2014. Festival dates this year are Sept. 5–7, 2014.


Gather ’round the campfires at the Old Pool Farm. The annual Philadelphia Folk Festival has been bringing contemporary and traditional artists together since 1962—its 53rd incarnation will run August 15–17. Not only is it multi-genre (folk, Americana, Celtic, singer-songwriter, and more), it is multi-generational, and thereare special activities available for the kids. It has a rich acoustic folk-blues and world-music tradition: Fairport Convention, Dave Van Ronk, and the Rev. Gary Davis all played here. Recent lineups have included acoustic folk trio the Stray Birds, roots artist Otis Taylor, and singer-songwriter Joe Crookston & the BlueBird Jubilee.


For a truly star-studded acoustic experience, don’t miss the Newport Folk Festival July 25–27. The festival, founded in 1959 by George Wein, has introduced such luminaries as Bob Dylan (who “went electric” here) and Joan Baez. Last year’s lineup included Old Crow Medicine Show, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, the Milk Carton Kids, Sarah Jarosz, Tift Merritt, Iris DeMent, Justin Townes Earle, and Jason Isbell, among others.


Music may be food for your soul, but that’s not to say that great food wouldn’t enhance a festival experience. Southern Ground Music & Food Festival in Charleston promises to satisfy on both musical and culinary levels. Be prepared for Southern-style cooking and great acoustic performances: 2013’s lineup included the Zach Brown Band, Willie Nelson & the Family, Jason Mraz, and singer-songwriter Levi Lowrey.


Hot Springs offers not only the world’s largest indoor fresh mineral swimming pool and water park, the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary, and the opportunity to visit an active research site unearthing ancient mammoth fossils, it also hosts the Badger Clark Annual Hometown Cowboy Music & Stories gathering. The festival includes writing workshops, open sessions in which participants can share their poetry or songs; social hours; and a performance that includes “lead riders” in cowboy poetry and music.


Wanna get loud? Here’s a festival that’s so overwhelming, so all-encompassing that it threatens to become a lifestyle. Bonnaroo is a four-day festival where you can experience art in many forms with 80,000 other campers on 700 acres of Tennessee nature. There will be ten-plus music stages. Not all of the acts will be acoustic, but Paul McCartney, Jack Johnson, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Sam Bush, Del McCoury, and Ed Helms’ Bluegrass Situation with special guests are just a few offerings that might have caught your ear in the 2013 lineup. June 12–15.

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