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WKSU-FM Presents the 45th Kent State Folk Festival, Moving Regional Tradition to September

Posted Aug. 1, 2011
Peter Yarrow
Peter Yarrow will perform at the 45th
Kent State Folk Festival on Sept. 25.

The Kent State Folk Festival has always been a moveable feast. This year, the event takes that charge literally as it shifts to mid-September with yet another stellar lineup of the best in roots and folk music. From Sept. 21-25, Kent will be the epicenter of a musical celebration that crosses generations and cultures. Highlights include dozens of free performances throughout the city for Folk Alley ‘Round Town on Friday, Sept. 23, and the beloved workshops at the Kent Student Center on Sept. 24.

Tickets are now on sale for all Kent State Folk Festival concerts. Artists taking center stage range from the Grammy Award-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops (Sept. 21) and up-and-comers the Low Anthem (Sept. 24) to rabble-rousing favorites the Dirty Dozen Brass Band (Sept. 22) and living legend Peter Yarrow (Sept. 25). Yarrow – who is best known as one-third of Peter, Paul and Mary – will be featured in a rare Sunday Kent State Folk Festival edition. More about the artists and complete schedules will be posted at

The 45th Kent State Folk Festival kicks off with the Carolina Chocolate Drops at Kent State’s University Auditorium in Cartwright Hall on Wednesday, Sept. 21, with the remainder of the main stage concerts taking place at the Kent Stage, 175 E. Main St. in downtown Kent. Tickets for all concerts are now on sale and can be purchased in person at the Kent Stage, Woodsy’s Music and Spin-More Records, by phone at 330-677-5005 and online at Kent State students may buy discount tickets for all shows by presenting a valid Kent State ID at time of purchase.

The line-up for the 45th Kent State Folk Festival (all concerts at the Kent Stage unless otherwise noted):

  • Wednesday, Sept. 21, at 8 p.m.: The Carolina Chocolate Drops (Kent State’s University Auditorium in Cartwright Hall) – $25 reserved, $15 Kent State students with valid ID.
  • Thursday, Sept. 22, at 8 p.m.: The Dirty Dozen Brass Band with Mo’ Mojo – $25 reserved, $15 Kent State students with valid ID.
  • Friday, Sept. 23 (various times): Folk Alley ‘Round Town (36 venues throughout Kent) – FREE.
  • Saturday, Sept. 24, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.: Workshops (Kent Student Center) – FREE.
  • Saturday, Sept. 24, at 8 p.m.: The Low Anthem – IN ADVANCE: $20 reserved, $15 students with valid ID, $10 Kent State students with valid ID. AT THE DOOR: $23 reserved, $18 students with valid ID, $13 Kent State students with valid ID.
  • Sunday, Sept. 25, at 7:30 p.m.: Peter Yarrow – $35 gold circle, $25 reserved, $15 Kent State students with valid ID.

The 45th Kent State Folk Festival continues a new tradition by focusing on cultural impact on folk music with the Carolina Chocolate Drops on Sept. 21. The core of this quartet met at the first Black Banjo Gathering in 2005. The event celebrated the banjo’s historical African roots and led Rhiannon Giddens and Dom Flemons down a path to a multi-instrumental interpretation of contemporary and folk music with the energy of a new generation. The group (which now also includes Adam Matta and Hubby Jenkins) won the 2010 Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album for Genuine Negro Jig.

The Dirty Dozen Brass Band began its life as a traditional New Orleans brass band, a group connected to a social club that played a rootsy, jazzy mix of upbeat music to celebrate life at the end of funeral processions. Three-decades later, the group has an international reputation for genre-bending romps and high-octane performances. They revitalized the brass band as they brought music fans to their feet around the globe. The band comes to the Kent Stage on Sept. 22. Mo’ Mojo opens the evening.

With the festival moving to mid-September, fans will have even more incentive to try out a variety of musical performances at venues throughout the city during Folk Alley ‘Round Town on Sept. 23. The daylong event is now only second to Halloween in bringing visitors to downtown Kent and involves nearly three dozen locations. The lineup features newcomers and favorites including Peggy and Brad at Bistro on Main, Ashley Brooke Toussant at Firefly, Smokin’ Fez Monkeys at Kent Presbyterian Church, Randy Horvath at Ohio Music, the Kidney Brothers at the Venice Café, Patrick Sweany at the Zephyr Pub, a long list of artists at Acorn Alley and much more.

On Sept. 24, musicians, dancers and storytellers will sit side by side with members of the public to share knowledge and a love of folk at the annual Free Workshops at the Kent Student Center. From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., artists from across the region will spotlight a variety of instruments, techniques and styles that contribute to the folk, Americana and roots music genres. Free parking is available in the Visitors lot off East Summit St.

Saturday evening, the next wave of folk artists is highlighted when the Low Anthem plays the Kent Stage. Part of a new generation of acoustic-based indie bands, the Low Anthem has received rave reviews for its “smoky, whiskey-drenched mix of folk, blues, jazz and Americana music.” Formed in Providence, R.I., the band first drew attention for their CD, Oh My God, Charlie Darwin, which brought offers from festivals including Bonnaroo, Glastonbury, Newport Folk and Lollapalooza. Their most-recent release is Smart Flesh.

The 45th Kent State Folk Festival concludes with a Sunday concert on Sept. 25 featuring Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary fame. A true living legend, Yarrow rose to fame during the folk music revival of the 1960s. His songwriting talents have added to the folk lexicon with the iconic “Puff, the Magic Dragon” and popular songs including “Day is Done,” “Light One Candle” and “The Great Mandala.”

Festival support is provided by Kent State University, the city of Kent, Marc’s and Kashi, Cascade Auto Group, Dominion East Ohio, Audio Technica, Seagrams Escape, Lehman’s, PARTA and Great Lakes Brewing Company.

WKSU-FM broadcasts NPR and Classical Music at 89.7 FM, and is a service of Kent State University. WKSU-FM programming is also heard on WKRW 89.3 FM in Wooster, WKRJ 91.5 FM in Dover/New Philadelphia, WKSV 89.1 FM in Thompson, WNRK 90.7 in Norwalk, W298BA 107.5 FM in Boardman, and W239AZ 95.7 FM in Ashland. The station broadcasts four HD Radio channels – adding WKSU-2 Folk Alley, WKSU-3 The Classical Channel and WKSU-4 The News Channel to the analog broadcast schedule. The WKSU-FM website is