Indoor and outdoor concerts featuring world-class musicians, free workshops with visiting artists, a folk camp that teaches songwriting and instrument techniques, music education for local schoolchildren: It’s all part of the nonprofit Friends of the Moab Folk Festival, which will celebrate its 15th music festival from Friday, Nov. 3, through Sunday, Nov. 5.
This year’s headliners include the Nashville-based Darrell Scott and his Band of Brothers, the legendary Tom Paxton with special guests The DonJuans, iconic singer-songwriter Cheryl Wheeler and last year’s MFF People’s Choice winner Mark Erelli.
Performing along with Paxton, Wheeler and Erelli at Star Hall and the Grand County High School auditorium are Chastity Brown, Penny and Sparrow, and Cosy Sheridan.
Outdoors at the Center Street ball fields on Saturday, are Brock Zeman, Front Country and Donna the Buffalo – a band that has been on festival producer Melissa Schmaedick’s list since she founded the event 15 years ago.
On Nov. 5, Moab’s own Quicksand Soup will kick off the day’s music at noon, followed by the female string quartet Laura Cortese and the Dance Cards, with Darrell Scott and his Band of Brothers closing out the festival.
According to audience surveys, the festival’s “hidden jewels” are the free workshops at Star Hall, MFF Assistant Director Cassie Paup said.
“One of our missions is to provide affordable (and free) entertainment,” Paup said.
This year, for example, starting at 9 a.m on Saturday, Nov. 4, will be a singer-songwriter in the round featuring Don Henry, Jon Vezner and Nina Gerber. Then, at 10 a.m. there’s an interview with Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner Tom Paxton.
The Nov. 5 workshops include “Permaculture in Action: Working Together to Upcycle Our Impacts” from 8:30 to 11 a.m., at the CommuniTea Garden, 100 West and Walnut Lane. Families are welcome at this event, which also includes fresh brewed tea and a tour of the garden site.
At 9 a.m., Sunday, at Star Hall, there will be a movie screening of “The Shopkeeper” about the challenges facing the independent music recording industry. The film features the longest continually operating recording studio in Austin, and the shopkeeper who runs it, Mark Hallman. The soundtrack alone – which includes Tom Russell, Ani DiFranco, Iain Matthews, Eliza Gilkyson and many others – makes this film worth catching.
Additionally, there’s a free live bluegrass jam session led by local bluegrass star Eric Jones, both Saturday and Sunday mornings at Sun Court next to Star Hall.
Boston-based fiddler Laura Cortese said she hopes to inspire students to make music throughout their lives, while she works with BEACON orchestra students the week prior to the festival, teaching the classically trained students elements of fiddle music – something she said must be transmitted from person to person.
“There is a lot of nuance that can’t be written down,” she said.
She and her Dance Cards will perform their mixture of roots, indie rock and Motown music on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. at the ball field.
Erelli, the People’s Choice returning artist, will change things up slightly this year by bringing mandolin and fiddle player Jake Armerding with him. Erelli writes and sings murder ballads, protest songs, lullabies, and love songs. He said he considers them “all as love songs.”
In addition to his nighttime performances at Star Hall and GCHS, Erelli will perform a concert for the elderly on Saturday morning at the Canyonlands Care Center.
“It’s a really good thing to do to bring music to the people,” he says. “A lot of festivals are out in the middle of nowhere. It’s good to get music in front of people.”
There will be several local food vendors selling Sri Lankan food, Mediterranean cuisine, fish tacos and vegan food during the outdoor festival. Various artisans and nonprofit organizations will have booths with information and items for sale, as well. The Grand County Education Foundation will be selling coffee and pastries at the indoor venues.
For the ball fields concerts, remember to bring a chair or a blanket for the ground.
15th annual event features great music, food and free workshops
What: 15th annual Moab Folk Festival
When: Friday, Nov. 3, through Saturday, Nov. 5
Where: Center Street ball fields, Star Hall and Grand County High School auditorium
Cost: Tickets vary depending on venue; 3-day and single venue passes available
Information: 435-259-3198; www.moabfolkfestival.com
To see a full schedule or for more information, visit www.moabfolkfestival.com.