By David Menconi
For such a definitively local Orange County institution, the annual Carrboro Music Festival has some origins that qualify as downright worldly. The festival began more than two decades ago, in 1998 as the local branch of a larger international festival called Fete de La Musique. It happened around the summer solstice in June and that’s how it went until 2002, when the event moved to the last weekend of September and rebranded under the current Carrboro Music Festival name.
Year 22, scheduled for the weekend of Sept. 28-29, finds the festival with a new person at the helm. Glenn Jones, a singer-songwriter who also plays in an array of local bands including Peter Holsapple Combo, is settling in as new music director – which will, alas, prevent Jones from playing it himself, as in years past.
As always, the festival is free to attend and also huge. Several hundred acts will play several dozen stages from one end of Carrboro to the other. All you have to do is follow your ears to find just about any style imaginable.
“My philosophy, aligned with the festival’s philosophy, is that this is a true community event,” Jones says. “We’ll have a wide-ranging, diverse, inclusive bunch of acts from Klezmer to a capella to three different ukulele orchestras and every flavor of jazz, indie-rock and punk you can imagine. For an area this small, the number of acts, variety and depth of talent here is just amazing. My goal is to reflect that. I think it’s special and unique, truly homegrown, and that spirit still continues.”
One change for 2019, however, is that festival management is encouraging all this year’s performers to put out tip jars. Since the festival is an all-volunteer affair, that represents the only money they’ll be paid for playing. But Jones hopes to do something about that, someday.
“Money has always been an area of contention for Carrboro Music Festival,” says Jones. “Once this year is over and we catch our breath, I’d like to get feedback and suggestions for changes in the future. How to pay bands is one thing I’d like to figure out, although it will be a challenge. To pay all the bands would probably involve a much higher level of corporate sponsorship, which might change the character of this homegrown festival. But I am willing and eager to listen to all ideas on that front.”
Further details about this year’s Carrboro Music Festival can be found here.