The Moab Folk Festival is returning this year for a two-day outdoor music festival starting Saturday, Nov 6. Patty Griffin, a Grammy Award winner and seven-time nominee, will headline the festival, taking the stage at 3 p.m. on Saturday.
“We’re really excited about the lineup this year,” said Cassie Paup, festival director at the Friends of the Moab Folk Festival, the nonprofit that sponsors the festival each year. The nonprofit also creates a free concert series each summer and does educational outreach for schools in Grand County.
The lineup this year features eight bands; four will play each day with concerts at 11 a.m., 12:15 p.m., 1:45 p.m., and 3 p.m.
Saturday’s lineup is R.O. Shapiro, John Craigie, May Erlewine, and headliner Patty Griffin. Griffin had been on Paup’s wishlist for a while—the artist is best known for her song, “Heavenly Day,” released in 2007. Her first album debut, “Living With Ghosts,” was in 1996. Her 2011 album, “Downtown Church,” debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Folk Albums and Christian Albums charts, and won the 2011 “Best Traditional Gospel Album” GRAMMY Award.
May Erlewine is the people’s choice returning artist from 2019, which means the 2019 audience voted to have her come back—Erlewine will also be participating in some of the workshops and educational outreach the Friends of the Moab Folk Festival are hosting, Paup said.
John Craigie has also been on Paup’s list for years—she described him as a young, upcoming and humorous singer-songwriter. His most popular songs feature humorous lyrics that sometimes sound more like storytelling than traditional folk songs.
R.O. Shapiro is also new and upcoming, Paup said, and has a “buttery, yummy voice,” which is especially highlighted in his most popular song, “St. Joan,” part of his most recent album, “King Electric Sessions,” which was released this year.
Sunday’s lineup features The Proper Way, Lindsay Lou, Chatham County Line, and The Lil Smokies.
“We decided we wanted to have a dance band for our headliner for Sunday, so we looked into The Lil Smokies,” Paup said. “I think they’ll whip people up into having a grand finale dance party.” The Lil Smokies are a bluegrass band formed in Missoula, Montana. The band is currently touring around California, Utah, Colorado and Montana.
“We’ve been hearing attendees and artists sing praises about this particular festival for many moons,” said Andy Dunnigan, lead singer for The Lil Smokies, in a statement to the Moab Sun News. “To be included on a lineup that truly puts the pencil to the pedestal is very exciting for this band. So many great writers on this lineup. Juggernauts. Heroes. [We’re] thrilled to perform, listen and learn in such a gorgeous spot.”
Chatham County Line is a well-known Americana band from North Carolina that’s been performing for 20 years. Their most popular song, “Crop Comes In,” was released in 2010.
Lindsay Lou is a familiar name around Moab—she and her band performed during the Friends of the Moab Folk Festival’s free concert series this past summer. She’ll also be performing a few songs with The Lil Smokies and May Erlewine, Paup said, “so we’re looking forward to some good old fashioned festival collaboration and jamming on stage.”
The Proper Way is a band out of Ogden, Utah. The festival always tries to feature a band from Utah, Paup said. The band’s most recent release is their 2021 EP, “It’s All In Your Head,” which has five songs.
“Pretty much everything” is new this year, Paup said. The festival is all outdoors, at the Center Street Ballparks, and there’s a fourth performer each day. What Paup is most excited about, though, is the free programming the Friends of the Moab Folk Festival offers alongside the two-day music festival.
“Our mission is to not only bring this music to our community in the form of a festival, but also to provide some affordable, accessible entertainment for people in town who maybe can’t afford a ticket,” Paup said.
On Friday, Nov. 5, there will be a jam session from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Backyard Theater (56 W 100 South, Moab). Anyone is welcome to come, with or without an instrument, to participate. The night of Nov. 6, from 6 to 8 p.m., Lindsay Lou and The Lil Smokies will perform “unplugged” sets at the Backyard Theater.
From 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. each day, there will be morning workshops. On Saturday, Nov. 6,
May Erlewine and John Craigie will host a singer-songwriter workshop. On Sunday, Nov. 7, Dave Wilson, the songwriter, guitarist and vocalist of Chatham County Line, will discuss his life as a musician.
To round out the free programming, each morning from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., there will be a bluegrass jam at the Sun Court at the Center Street Gym (203 E Center St.).
“[The workshops] really increase the access,” Paup said. “It just brings arts performances to our underserved community. A lot of people live too far from a venue, or are too busy to attend things, or maybe can’t afford a ticket. I just think it really makes sense.”
Paup is expecting over 1,000 people to attend the festival, she said.
“Our goal is not so much to grow the festival, but just to keep the quality high,” Paup said. “And as far as our organization goes, to continue providing as much free and accessible content to not only the community but to the schools.”
The festival will also be streamed live on KZMU radio on 90.1 and 106.7 FM.
Tickets for the festival can be purchased at www.moabfolkfestival.com; $50 for single day general admission or $90 for 2-day general admission. Kids ages 11-15 get 20% off tickets, and kids 10 and under are free if accompanied by an adult.
Moab locals can purchase tickets for 10% off in person at Back of Beyond Books and at the Canyonlands Copy Center.
For a full schedule, and for more information, go to www.moabfolkfestival.com.
What: Moab Folk Festival
When: November 6 and 7
Where: Center Street Ballparks
Tickets: Single day general admission $50; 2-day general admission $90; kids 10 and under are free
More info: www.moabfolkfestival.com