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Way Down Wanderers Headline 2019 Ol' Front Porch Music Festival
21 Performers Invade The Porches Of Oriental
March 21, 2019

or three days every October, musicians take over Oriental. It’s called the Ol’ Front Porch Music Festival. Bluegrass and gospel, newgrass and rock flow from the porches where they play.

Now in its sixth year, the event harkens back to a time when Oriental’s musicians gathered to play together on the front porch of the Ol’ Store. The Ol’ Store is gone, but the music goes on.

In 2019, twenty-one bands will make their way to this riverside music festival. One of those is the headliner. Ol’ Front Porch Music Festival board member Doug Sligh says there are some requirements for the job; “the band must be lively and have an active stage presence. If they can get the crowd off their feet and dancing in the grass, even better.”

Last year, crowd favorite Chatham County Line got the top spot. This year, it’s Peoria, Illinois based newgrass band The Way Down Wanderers. Their second album Illusions landed at #3 on Billboard’s Bluegrass Albums Chart this March. The band’s newgrass (sometimes called progressive bluegrass) sound draws on bluegrass, classic rock, and soul with elements of jazz, classical music and even hip-hop.

Ol' Front Porch Music Festival
The Way Down Wanderers headline the 2019 Ol’ Front Porch Music Festival.

The Way Down Wanderers have toured extensively across the U.S., Canada, and the U.K., performing an official showcase at the Americana Fest in Nashville, earning honors from American Roots UK (Top Albums of the Year List 2017), Songpickr’s Best Songs Spotify Playlist (2016), and landing finalist spot in the 2016 International Song Writing Competition.

“Somewhere on the spectrum between Old Crow Medicine Show and Mumford and Sons lies the spirited bluegrass-based artistry of The Way Down Wanderers,” the Associated Press said. “It is joyful, daring and occasionally sublime.”

The Way Down Wanderers will perform at 4p on Saturday, Oct. 5, on the Riverfront Stage across from Lou Mac Park.

Ol' Front Porch Music Festival
2018 Headliners Chatham County Line on the Riverfront Stage.

The festival, now in its sixth year, will showcase 20 other groups and solo artists during the three-day event. All performances during the festival are free, including Friday and Saturday evening performances at O’Town Restaurant and the Tiki Bar at Oriental Marina & Inn.

The Ol’ Front Porch Music Festival begins Friday, October 4 at 2p and runs through Sunday, October 6.

The festival welcomes several new bands in 2019. Hank, Pattie & the Current hail from the Triangle, playing traditional bluegrass in a non-traditional way. Other newcomers are husband and wife duo Chatham Rabbits, Wilmington newgrass band Into the Fog, and Oriental locals Jill Harris & Friends.

Ol' Front Porch Music Festival
Hank, Pattie & The Current.

A handful of last year’s new-to-the-festival bands return play again. Cane Mill Road, Hooverville, River Ratz, and the Strung Together Band are back by popular demand.

The local favorites, those groups that return year after year, will also take their place on the porches of Oriental: Salty Paws, Moore’s Creek Bluegrass, Saltwater Gold, Harbor Sounds, Brant Island Strings, Mahalo Jazz, The Gospel Ensemble, Green Creek Bluegrass, The Down East Dulcimers, the UHOOS, Pamlico Flutes, and Laurel Creek.

A Village Market runs during the festival, showcasing dozens of local and regional artisans and crafters. Nearby, the Food Market keeps attendees fed.

Ol' Front Porch Music Festival
Salty Paws on the lawn in 2017. They’re coming back to play again.

The festival is free, but there are two fundraising concerts in the months leading up to the festival. The Jeff Little Trio is at The Red Rooster, behind The Silos, May 18. Zoe & Cloyd, a collaborative concert between Ol’ Front Porch Music Festival and The Old Theater, will play The Old Theater in August.

Tickets for both concerts are $22. Jeff Little Trio tickets go on sale April 1 on the website and at Nautical Wheelers, 411 Broad Street, Oriental, NC. Zoe & Cloyd tickets will go on sale on July 1.

The Ol’ Front Porch Music Festival, Inc., is a 501©(3) nonprofit organization encouraging development of roots music appreciation and skills in Pamlico County.

Ol’ Front Porch Music Festival

Posted Thursday March 21, 2019 by Allison DeWeese

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