When music professionals heard Jim Dennis agreed to coordinate the free Carrboro Music Festival, they asked him, “Are you insane?” This will be Dennis’s third festival since taking over from long time organizer Gerry Williams. Originally called the Fête de la Musique in 1997, the music festival has since morphed into a two day event. “For such a small town, it is such a large festival.” Held this year on September 23 and 24th, over 450 musicians from 201 acts will play on 39 stages for an estimated 10,000+ people. “No one told me what to do or what not to do, so what I’ve been trying to do is diversify the music we have.” New this year will be a 20+ girls’ choir Dennis invited, three Indian musical groups, and more “electronic experimental stuff.” He has also added more venues, more acts, and upgraded the sound systems.
Dennis takes no credit for the success of the Festival and showers praise on Carrboro town staff and the many volunteers, past and present. He feels the festival is successful “because of the kind of people we have around here…the musicians are grateful to be playing and the people are grateful to be out there.” Dennis notes the festival has a simple purpose: “local musicians playing music for their neighbors for free.” Coordinating the festival is an intense undertaking. Although “these people are so easy to deal with,” there are thousands of details to consider. On the day of the festival, Jim is up early but “…by 2:30 in the afternoon, it’s like a snowball rolling downhill and I can’t do anything about it.” That’s when he starts to relax and enjoy.
Dennis has big plans for the future including adding a dance stage and seminars, but mostly he feels he is “just riding the wave” of the successful festival. “It’s quite an honor to be entrusted with it.”