John Fullbright on the Main Stage at the 2012 WoodyFest. Fullbright will be returning to the Moab Folk Festival for the third time as its “People's Choice.” [Courtesy photo]

Family storytelling was huge in the family of Austin, Texas-based singer-songwriter James McMurtry, who’ll be performing at the Moab Folk Festival next weekend.

“That’s what people did,” said McMurtry, talking by phone from a Denny’s restaurant in Calgary, Alberta, where he was performing that evening. “Everybody gathered on the porch after supper.”

That oral tradition comes out in the poignant lyrics of McMurtry’s songs, about relationships, politics, and working-class people. For example, the song “We Can’t Make it Here Anymore,” winner of the Americana Music Awards 2006 Song of the Year, is about the export of American jobs overseas.

McMurtry credits legendary storytelling musicians Kris Kristofferson and John Prine for influencing his songwriting early on.

These days, he said he rarely listens to music, preferring to look out the window of a van traveling quietly to the next gig while his bandmates read books. That in itself sometimes leads to lyrics, like the song “Forgotten Coast” – inspired by a road sign McMurtry said he spotted in northern Florida.

The music festival, which runs from Friday, Nov. 4, through Sunday, Nov. 6, includes outdoor concerts at the Center Street ballfields, with intimate indoor venues in the evenings at Star Hall and Grand County High School.

John Fullbright and Anne McCue tied for the People’s Choice award at last year’s folk fest – which means both artists were invited back to perform at this year’s festival. It’s Fullbright’s third time returning as the People’s Choice.

“John Fullbright always creates a lot of buzz – he’s an amazing performer,” Moab Folk Festival Assistant Director Cassie Paup said.

Fullbright, McCue and Sammy Brue will each perform on Friday, Nov. 4, at Grand County High School and at Star Hall on Saturday, Nov. 5.

Paup said there’s a lot of excitement around the 15-year-old Brue, who recently signed with a major Nashville recording studio. Rolling Stone magazine has called Brue an “Americana Prodigy.”

Also performing indoors, at the other venue, are Beth Wood, Mark Erelli and Jeffrey Foucault. Attend both nights and you can see all six artists.

Performing on Saturday, Nov. 5, at the ballfields are the female duo MaMuse, followed by Kaia Kater – whom Rolling Stone named as among three top 10 country artists to watch, Paup said.

Closing out the day is Rising Appalachia, described by National Public Radio as “the aural divinity of two sisters steeped in the deep south flair of harmony, resistance, and poetry.”

Their drummer, Biko Casini, will join Arouna Diarra, originally from the West African nation of Burkina Faso, for a short performance right before Rising Appalachia takes the stage.

Diarra and Casini will also lead an African Melody Workshop on Sunday, Nov. 6, at Star Hall.

The one-man band “Suitcase Junket,” will kick off Sunday’s ballfield lineup, followed by the five-piece group, The Railsplitters, winners of Colorado’s Rockygrass Best New Band Competition. McMurtry and his band close out the festival on Sunday, with a 90-minute set, starting at 3 p.m.

Melissa Schmaedick founded and directs the nonprofit Moab Folk Festival, with the help of 140 volunteers, whose mission is to bring music to an underserved community, Paup said. Free concerts will be offered to students at some Grand County public schools.

Festival promoters strive to be environmentally friendly by purchasing wind power from Rocky Mountain Power, encouraging recycling and composting food waste.

“Our goal is to be a zero-waste event,” Paup said.

This year, a free sustainability workshop at the CommuniTea Garden takes place on Sunday, Nov. 6, from 8 a.m. to noon. Participants will help build earthen benches and bee shelters at the garden, which is located at the corner of 100 West and Walnut Lane. Festivalgoers and residents are welcome to come for morning tea, or drop by anytime during the event.

The festival’s sister event, the Moab Folk Camp, led by Cosy Sheridan, takes place in the week prior to the folk festival. Sheridan and other musicians teach classes on songwriting, guitar, mandolin, ukulele and much more.

14th annual Moab Folk Festival is back on Nov. 4

The music festival, which runs from Friday, Nov. 4, through Sunday, Nov. 6, includes outdoor concerts at the Center Street ballfields, with intimate indoor venues in the evenings at Star Hall and Grand County High School.

When: Friday, Nov. 4, through Sunday, Nov. 6

Where: Star Hall, 159 E. Center St.; Grand County High School, 608 S. 400 East; and the Center Street ballfields

Cost: Various tickets available

Information: 435-259- 3198;

For more information about tickets, the camp, or to see a schedule of festival concerts and workshops, as well as musicians’ bios, go to: