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Nebraska Folk & Roots Festival returns to Lincoln with its best lineup yet
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Nebraska Folk & Roots Festival returns to Lincoln with its best lineup yet

Travelin' McCourys

The Travelin' McCourys will top the bill at the Nebraska Folk & Roots Festival at Pinewood Bowl June 15. 

The Nebraska Folk & Roots Festival is returning to Lincoln -- at its best venue and with its best lineup yet.

The venue is Pinewood Bowl, the fourth location for the festival that, for five years, has featured a combination of national and local Americana and folk artists. Folk & Roots began in the Railyard in the Haymarket, moved to Branched Oak Farm near Raymond and, last year, was in Riverfront Park in Elkhorn.

Going to Pinewood -- which (try to keep up) is operated by SMG Lincoln, which also runs Pinnacle Bank Arena, and is co-booked by Mammoth, the Lawrence, Kansas-based production company -- was a natural move.

“They tried the bluegrass festival out there last year and they wanted some kind of acoustic festival,” said Folk & Roots organizer Mike Semrad. “Bringing in Folk & Roots made sense to have a community-driven festival, not just one that had Americana and bluegrass music.

The community aspects of the festival include educational booths from local organizations and daytime activities, like face painting, and other art elements by the ArtReach Project, KZUM and the presence of the festival’s sponsors, most of which are happy the event is back in Lincoln and at Pinewood.

The June 15 lineup is topped by The Travelin’ McCourys, the 2019 Grammy Award winner for best bluegrass album.

Led by McCoury brothers Ronnie on mandolin and Rob on banjo, who honed their craft playing with their legendary father Del in The Del McCoury Band, The Travelin’ McCourys has an all-star lineup. The brothers, fiddler Jason Carter, bassist Alan Bartram and guitarist Cody Kilby are all members of the International Bluegrass Hall of Fame.

Formed in 2009, The Travelin’ McCourys have recorded just two albums, 2012’s collaboration with Keller Williams and last year’s self-titled Grammy winner.

Second on the bill is Pokey Lafarge, an eclectic (to say the least) roots artist whose music run from Depression-era folk and jazz, blues, country swing, early rock n’ roll, ‘50s and ‘60s pop to the horn driven sounds of his last release “Manic Revelations.”

Lafarge, who was featured in “American Epic,” the award-winning PBS series about early recording, is signed to Jack White’s Third Man Records. So is Joshua Hedley, a classic country singer and songwriter, who’ll also be on the festival’s bill.

Other national artists set for the festival are Greg Brown, the Iowa folk legend, the one-man band The Suitcase Junket and The Rainbow Girls, an acoustic trio.

Nebraska artists set to play the fest are: Kris Lager Band, Matt Cox Band, Jack Hotel, Clarence Tilton, Hope Dunbar Band, Andrea Von Kampen and Will Hutchinson, along with the second annual Dietze Music Guitar & Fiddle Competition.

“We did that last year,” Semrad said. “It was a crushing success, so many kids showed up to do it. This year, we’re adding the adult element.”

The competition’s preliminary rounds will kick off the daylong festival at 9 a.m. The winners, both adults and children, are likely to get to play a song on the main stage during the evening. The festival is slated to conclude at 10:30 p.m.

While the festival has been cut from two days to one, it will nonetheless feature about the same number of artists as had performed at the two-day events.

Festival tickets are $25 for early bird general admission tickets, while supplies last; $30 general admission and $75 for VIP. Tickets are available at the Pinnacle Bank Arena ticket office, or by phone at (800) 745-3000.

Tickets purchased at the arena ticket office will not be subject to the Ticketmaster fee.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7244 or

On Twitter @LJSWolgamott.


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