Folk Fest Fun

A music lover's guide to the Kerrville Folk Festival

A music lover's guide to the Kerrville Folk Festival

The 41st annual Kerrville Folk Festival began Thursday, May 23 and continues with Hill Country programming through June 9. The longest running music festival of its kind, this mecca for singer-songwriters can be enjoyed by the casual music lover, too. 18 days of events can be overwhelming, so we've created a guide for navigating the best of the fest, whether you plan to spend a day or a week.

New Folk Concerts
Kerrville Folk Festival is known for its steady tradition of providing a stage for breakout songwriters. This year, the 32 New Folk finalists will perform two songs each during the New Folk Concerts to be held the afternoons of May 25 and May 26. Narrowed down from over 700 entries, songwriters include those hailing from as near as the Lone Star State and as far as New York and Oregon. (Past winners include Lucinda Williams, Lyle Lovett and Steve Earle to name just a few.)

Songwriters School
The 32nd annual Songwriters School takes place May 27 - May 30 on the festival grounds. Director Steve Seskin leads the four-day intensive program, which addresses all types of songwriting — rock to country. The final day includes open mic opportunities for attendees.

Texas and Tennessee Songwriters Circle
Each day of the festival, singer-songwriter Steve Gillette will host an informal song circle at 5 p.m. under the oaks. An opportunity for budding songwriters to perform and have their work critiqued by Gillette, the circle is an informal hour of singing limited to eight performers per day.

Kennedy Outdoor Theater
With all of the up-and-coming talent to be discovered at Kerrville Folk Festival comes a host of well-established names in songwriting and folk music. The first weekend offers up such talent as The Dirty River Boys (recent transplants from El Paso to Austin) on Friday night and Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis closing out the fete. Other must-see talent during the fest includes Sam Baker, Hal Ketchum and Milkdrive.

Sundown Concerts
The aptly named Threadgill Theater serves as the home for Sundown Concerts during the festival. June 3 - June 6 offers an array of Sundown programming, including New Folk In-The-Round and House of Songs. Performers include folk musician BettySoo and Austin songbird Dana Falconberry.

Single day tickets start at an affordable $25, depending on the programming. Workshop prices are steeper, ranging from $180 - $250. Tickets can be purchased online, via the Kerrville Folk Festival website.

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2011 Kerville Folk Festival. Courtesy of Kerrville Folk Festival
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Camping at the Kerrville Folk Festival. Courtesy of Kerrville Folk Festival
Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis
Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis will play this years Kerrville Folk Festival on May 26. Photo courtesy of Bruce and Kelly