Shawn Colvin is among the performers at this year’s Moab Folk Festival. [Photo courtesy of Joseph Llanes]

The Moab Folk Festival is celebrating its “sweet 16” anniversary this weekend, Nov. 2-4, with local and visiting performing artists, classes, food trucks and arts and crafts.

Twelve acts will perform on three stages over the course of three days and two nights, with outdoor shows at the Moab ball field and indoor concerts at Grand County High School and Star Hall.

The lineup includes well-known Grammy Award winners like Shawn Colvin, Mike Farris, and Kathy Mattea. However, the festival’s organizers are keeping a fresh mix of artists, including lesser-known acts.

“There’s a really kind of diverse criteria,” said Cassie Paup, one of the co-producers of the festival, about how artists are chosen to perform at the event.

“One is kind of ‘up-and-coming,’ new, unknown, or on the way up,” Paup said. “We’re giving people a chance to get on our roster, and then often times they’re on many other folk festivals’ rosters because we all sort of check each other out.”

One of the artists performing at the festival this year is Mary James, known as “Mean Mary.”

She grew up, and was home-schooled, in Florida, and her parents encouraged her early love of music. Mean Mary recorded her first album at age six. She now tours the country playing her own songs on a variety of instruments. This will be her first visit to Moab. Her touring schedule rarely allows her time for sightseeing, but she said she hopes to “enjoy some peaceful moments” in the area. She is open-minded to being inspired by new surroundings.

“You never know what you’re going to see, or what story from the past is going to influence you in the future,” she said. “Sometimes years later a beautiful sunrise or a tragic piece of history will make its way into a song or a book.”

Mean Mary also co-writes fiction with her mother, Jean James. While on her current music tour, she is promoting their latest action thriller, “Hell is Naked.” Her latest album, “Blazing,” serves as a “soundtrack” to the novel.

Mean Mary takes the stage on Nov. 3 at noon at the Center Street ball fields.

The Moab Folk Festival organizers also look for musicians that bring a unique sense of culture or tradition. Falling into that niche this year is the Quebecois band Les Poules A Colin, performing on Sunday, Nov. 4, at noon at the Center Street ball fields.

“They’re young kids who came from a folk background,” Paup said, “but they also have some really interesting traditional techniques from Quebec. They have this kind of foot percussion that they do — a sort of stomping dance while they’re fiddling. And they’re bilingual, so they’re bringing French language to the table, and just a real rich serving of culture.”

Les Poules a Colin will also be participating in the recently expanded educational outreach element of the festival.

The band will work with Grand County middle and high school choir and string band students on learning about folk music traditions. The students will perform a song they learned during the week of the local showcase, which kicks off the festival on Thursday, Nov. 1, at 7 p.m. at Star Hall. The students will perform their newly learned piece again on Friday morning.

Saturday and Sunday mornings, Nov. 3-4, professional videographer Chris Sealy will be conducting interviews with festival musicians Sam Baker, Kathy Mattea and Hubby Jenkins. The public is invited to attend these talks, which are being held at Star Hall at 9 a.m.

Other acts in the lineup include singer, songwriter, and storyteller Ellis Paul, soulful singer Sloan Wainwright, gospel and soul singer Liz Vice and songwriter Amy Helm.

Paup believes there will be something for everyone.

“We have a really killer lineup this year, and we’re proud to share that with both locals and visitors,” she said.

Shawn Colvin, Kathy Mattea among performers at festival’s ‘sweet 16’

When: Friday through Sunday, Nov. 2-4; performance times vary

Where: Center Street ball fields, Star Hall and Grand County High School auditorium

Cost: Tickets vary depending on venue; multi-day and single venue passes available.

Info: Visit, or call 435-259-3198

“We have a really killer lineup this year, and we’re proud to share that with both locals and visitors.”