Mild mountain weather and sunny skies make June a prime time for music festivals in Western North Carolina, with locals and visitors gathering to celebrate the region’s natural beauty and musical heritage. Four events, scattered throughout the area, provide an opportunity to join the fun in a variety of settings.
RiverMusic and RiverFest
This year’s RiverMusic and RiverFest series kicks off on Friday, June 8, at 5 p.m. on the lawn of Asheville’s New Belgium Brewery. The series, which serves as an annual fundraiser for RiverLink, features musicians in a variety of genres performing on June 8, July 6 and September 7. On Saturday, August 18, RiverFest offers festivities including live music, local beer, food and the Anything That Floats Parade, featuring some of the most creative vessels on the French Broad River.
“Our music events are free, family-friendly and open to all,” says RiverLink development manager Suzanne Moore. “This year we will raffle off several items including a Dagger Nomad whitewater kayak and passes for whitewater kayak instruction donated by Nantahala Outdoor Center.”
Cold Mountain Music Festival
The second Annual Cold Mountain Music Festival will take place Friday and Saturday, June 8 and 9. The event, organized by the Episcopal Diocese of Western North Carolina as a fundraiser for Lake Logan and Camp Henry, is held at Lake Logan, a 300-acre property featuring a mile-long lake surrounded by the Shining Rock Wilderness Area.
Due to last year’s success, the festival has expanded to include a second night and will offer camping for the first time. Local food and craft beer vendors will participate and a free kid’s area will offer activities and games for children. The event lineup includes Shovels & Rope, Mandolin Orange, River Whyless and The Steel Wheels.
Bluff Mountain Festival
The 23rd annual Bluff Mountain Festival, held in Hot Springs, takes place on Saturday, June 9, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the grounds of The Hot Springs Resort & Spa. The event, a fundraiser for the Madison County Arts Council, includes bluegrass and old-time music, a silent auction and an artists’ market. This year’s lineup includes ballad singer Betty Smith, master fiddler Roger Howell, The Green Grass Cloggers and ballad singer and songwriter Joe Penland.
“Multiple styles and genres combine each year to showcase three distinct traditions: ballads, clogging, and stringband music,” says festival director Brandon Johnson. “This year’s lineup will continue the practice, with traditional, acoustic music sprung largely from Madison County.”
Roots Music Week Mars
Hill University’s inaugural Roots Music Week, exploring the connections between today’s acoustic music and American traditional styles and genres, will take place from Sunday, June 24, through Saturday, June 30. The week will include classes, songwriting circles and open mic nights in a program emphasizing technical skills and self-confidence in performance.
“The whole week is designed to encourage people in a context where they can connect and learn in a nurturing atmosphere with other like-minded individuals,” says musician Hilary Dirlam.