Folk Fest worth fighting through hordes to visit

Ben Wolford

It’s always that way: The Daily Kent Stater takes a couple days off, and the world starts spitting out news.

There was an attempted robbery on campus, a death downtown and five citations from the Campus Pointe fight. The Stater is only printing two days next week because of Thanksgiving break. Thus, we’re prepping for a deluge of news.

But first things first. This week, starting Wednesday, is the 44th Kent State Folk Festival, one of this town’s greatest assets.

In the past, it’s drawn acts as renowned as Justin Townes Earle, the son of rock legend Steve Earle. Earle the younger was to appear this week until his run-in with the law at a nightclub in Indianapolis, where cops charged him with public intoxication and battery. He went to rehab and cancelled his date here.

I interviewed Earle in 2009 for a story about drugs that I wrote for The Burr, and he’s a great guy — has that Southern gentleman, Tennessee drawl, and he was polite. I’m disappointed I won’t see him in Kent on Thursday because he’s a great musician.

Fortunately there are others.

Blues guitarist Patrick Sweany packed the Zephyr to the point where I bought all my Guinness pints for the night (never mind they got warm) in one trip to the bar. You couldn’t move without bumping and spilling.

Sweany will be back at the Zephyr at 10 p.m. Thursday.

Then there are The Secret Sisters, who will be playing in the Student Center ballroom on Saturday night.

I only vaguely knew of them before last week, but when I saw they would be at the Folk Fest, I listened on YouTube. They have beautiful vocal harmonies and a healthy respect for folk music.

They’ll be on the David Letterman Show the night before they come to Kent.

Still waiting for their Letterman appearance is a band from Athens, Ohio, which includes my cousin and the guitarist of my old band, Alex Douglas. They’re called She Bears, and they’ll be at Professors Pub on Thursday.

Ignore my shameless family promotion for a moment. These guys are pretty good, and I’d be the first to tell you if they were bad (Douglas ditched the family band to run off and join this outfit).

They’d yell at me for comparing them to another band — they’re so original — but they sound something like Arcade Fire.

It’s fun that they’ll be in town, and it’s fun that all these guys will be in town, many performing for free or cheap. Read our coverage this week, but go downtown, too. I’ll be there.

If you see me, say you read this column, and I’ll buy you a drink. Or shake your hand. Haven’t decided yet.

Ben Wolford is a senior newspaper journalism major and the editor of the Daily Kent Stater. E-mail him at [email protected], or follow him on Twitter @BenWolford.

This article has been changed to reflect a correction: The Secret Sisters will be playing in the Student Center ballroom and not The Kent Stage, as first reported.