Roadside Americana: Texas – Wyoming

50 States TX-WY


Looking for something quieter? “Celebrating Songwriters since 1972” is the tagline of the Kerrville Folk Festival, and over its long history audiences have been able to glimpse Lyle Lovett, Willie Nelson, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Robert Earl Keen, Lucinda Williams, and Nanci Griffith early in their careers. The festival is held at the Quiet Valley Ranch in Texas Hill Country, and embraces a variety of styles, including acoustic rock, bluegrass, traditional folk, blues, jazz, and Americana. The focus is on songwriting, and new artists rub shoulders with seasoned professionals. The vibe is strictly communal—“Welcome Home” reads the sign over the front gate. May 22–June 8.

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With spectacular Zion National Park as a backdrop, the Zion Canyon Music Festival, held in Springdale in late September, promotes renewable energy and donates proceeds to its host city’s solar-power project, as well as to the development of renewable energy sources in southern Utah. Not all acts are acoustic, but “stomp-folk Americana” act Rainbow Girls, acoustic blues trio Better Off with the Blues, and folk groups We Are Mirrors, the Hollering Pines, and 3 Hats Trio make up the bulk of the lineup.


Head to Bellows Falls for a “little gem of a festival,” Roots on the River. It’s a truly homegrown festival, run and organized by volunteers. Last year marked the last Roots on the River performance by cofounder and headliner Fred Eaglesmith and his Travelling Steam Show, but the festival promises to keep going strong, presenting such singer-songwriters as Zoe Muth and bands like the Cold River Ranters.


If Virginia is for lovers, then FloydFest is for music lovers (it’s been dubbed the “Shangri-La of the East”). This celebration of world music and art pulls big names and big crowds to its home in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Lumineers, Old Crow Medicine Show, and Yonder Mountain String Band have all played Floydfest, a four-day“tent city” experience.


The Northwest Folklife Festival has been described as “four days of music, dance, food, history, art, and celebration.” The 2013 festival, held in late May, drew about 230,000 people to the Seattle Center to hear more than 6,000 performers across 22 stages—enough acoustic music to thrill you, rain or shine. But this festival is not just about music: it’s about the community celebrating the traditions of the Pacific Northwest region.


The Appalachian String Band Music Festival is a five-day mountaintop gathering that features banjo, neo-traditional string bands, and traditional string band competitions; daily yoga classes; flatfoot and square-dancing sessions; basket and split-bottom woven–stool-making classes; master musician showcases; and camping in a serene mountainous retreat. The atmosphere is family friendly with activities for kids, including an instrument petting zoo.


Appleton, the onetime home of Harry Houdini, has a love for singer-songwriters that’s a mile long. Its annual Mile of Music festival has featured Cory Chisel and the Wandering Sons, Rodney Crowell, and JTE, among others. This is an Americana festival, which means the musical style may run from roots, indie rock, and country to gospel, soul, folk, and jazz. More than 100 singer-songwriters will perform, and many of the events will be free. Proceeds support local public schools and creative community projects. August 7–10.


Feeling outdoorsy? Got a need to split your time between rock climbing and listening to amazing acoustic music? The Targhee Fest, hosted by the Grand Targhee Resort (located between Grand Teton National Park to the east and Yellowstone National Park to the north), might be just the right spot. Not only can you attend performances by such artists as Holly Williams, John Hiatt & the Combo, Sarah Jarosz, and the Mother Hips, you also can spend time exploring the surrounding countryside by mountain bike, horseback, or on foot. Hmmm, acoustic-guitar music set against a backdrop of majestic mountains—what’s not to love?

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