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2023 Ol' Front Porch Music Festival Lineup
19 bands playing bluegrass, folk, gospel and more
April 6, 2023

ine years ago, the Ol’ Front Porch Music Festival was born. It was a smaller affair, with bands from as far away as neighboring Craven County. The main musical focus: bluegrass and Americana.

This year, the Ol’ Front Porch Music Festival returns to those roots.

The two-day festival from Oct. 6-7 features three emerging bands: Driftwood, Damn Tall Buildings, and The Well Drinkers.

Driftwood and Damn Tall Buildings, build on bluegrass influences to create their sound. The Well Drinkers, describes themselves as “Neo-Appalachian Newgrass, with a twist of Swampgrass and Delta-Blues.”

The Well Drinkers. There’s supposed to be five of them, but they sent a picture with only three (might be they’re the best looking ones in the group.)

Keeping with the bluegrass tradition, Liam Purcell & Cane Mill Road return to the festival, along with local favorite Moores Creek bluegrass.

Oriental’s own Harbor Sounds, a band integral to the festival’s beginnings and longtime donor to local causes, kicks off the festival on Friday with their final concert.

Though focusing on the original sounds from that first festival on the porches, there’s variety to be had in this year’s lineup. Nineteen bands on the schedule (so far), ranging from bluegrass, Americana and folk, to country, gospel, rock, and jazz. As always, all Festival Day performances are free.

Driftwood, from Binghamton, NY, headlines the festival Friday on the Riverfront Stage across from Lou Mac Park.

While their music is described as Americana and folk, the band uses bluegrass instruments and influence, making “that sound much more interesting…with a punk-rock attitude that embraces country and rock ‘n’ roll,” per Glide Magazine.

Damn Tall Buildings, out of Brooklyn, NY, calls themselves “bluegrass at heart.” But their music, according to Roots music journal No Depression, “is influenced by jazz, swing, Americana, and old-time music.” The band is the Saturday headliner on the Riverfront Stage.

Other newcomers include Christie Lenée of Asheville, a singer-songwriter and award-winning guitarist; Triangle jazz musician Al Strong, co-founder of the non-profit Art of Cool Project; Lua Flora, an Asheville, NC-based reggae-influenced folk group; and Lou Hazel, a Chapel Hill folk singer-songwriter.

Damn Tall Buildings – bluegrass from Brooklyn.

Returning to the festival are John Bemis with his Triangle band, Hooverville, and local favorites Gospel Ensemble, Ken Belangia, Hoff ‘n’ Finch, Brant Island Strings, Dust Parade, Pamlico County High School Jazz Ensemble, UHOOs, and Down East Dulcimers.

The Ol’ Front Porch Music Festival celebrates the musical heritage of North Carolina on the first weekend in October. This free event is two days of roots music, played on the front porches of homes around Oriental, and the main stage by the Neuse River.

Local and regional artisans and crafters can be found at the festival’s Village Market. There’s also a Food Park offering selections from area restaurants and local nonprofits.

You can chip in to help fund the festival by buying buttons, purchasing some swag, or just throwing a few dollars their way, all at olfrontporch.org.

The Ol’ Front Porch Music folks sent in these words, showing how they make it all work:

The Ol’ Front Porch Music Festival, Inc., is a 501©(3) nonprofit organization. Its purpose is to provide the region’s multi-cultural and racially diverse musical talent with support, promotion and performance venues and encourage development of roots music appreciation and skills in Pamlico County, in particular among its youth.

The festival receives financial support from many businesses, organizations and individual donors, and from the Harold H. Bate Foundation; South Arts; the North Carolina Arts Council, an agency of the Department of Cultural Resources and the National Endowment for the Arts; and the Pamlico County Arts Council. Media sponsors are TownDock.net and Public Radio East. It is because of their generosity that the festival can be offered free to the public. Contributions are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.

Posted Thursday April 6, 2023 by Allison DeWeese

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