It’s been three years since the Kalamazoo Valley Museum has hosted the festival as an in-person event. Get the lowdown and the performance schedule at Local Spins.
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“This event is special because it showcases so many luthiers and different types of music. Kalamazoo has a long guitar history and I love seeing so many people come together to learn about it,” said Wilkin who’ll perform with her father, Mark Sahlgren, at 10 a.m. Saturday to get the day started in the museum’s Mary Jane Stryker Theater.
“The fact that it’s free is great, because it makes it available to so many people. I’m also really impressed by the variety of music offered. You can see Middle-Eastern music, old-time music, rock bands, singer-songwriters, talented multi-instrumentalists and more, all in a day-and-a-half.”
Wilkin, who’s played the festival several times over the years (performing with the Corn Fed Girls, Mark Sahlgren & The Fragile Egos), said fans can expect some original songs, Carter Family tunes and “some witty banter” from the duo this weekend.
Attendees can also expect workshops, guitar displays and vendors of all kinds in addition to performances by the Bahar Ensemble on Friday evening and nine folk, blues, indie-rock, Americana and Celtic acts on Saturday.
Having logged eight previous appearances at the Kalamazoo Fretboard Festival, country/folk’s Green Valley Boys are eager to rev up the return of the in-person event on Saturday with their traditional country, bluegrass and folk favorites.
“This festival is very significant to the Kalamazoo music community as it celebrates the legacy of Gibson guitars and other stringed instruments made in our community,” said bandleader Bob Rowe, who personally is unable to play this year’s show but will be there “in spirit,” with Luke Lenhart leading the charge for the band’s 1 p.m. set at Anna Whitten Hall.
“Our lead guitarist, Don Bradford, will be playing a 1959 Gibson guitar at the Fretboard Festival.”
Rowe said he’s currently tied up with preparations for filming “a significant documentary” on PBS about his musical outreach program to senior citizens, but hopes to return to the Fretboard Festival next year.
Due to the COVID pandemic, it’s the first in-person Fretboard Festival held at the museum since 2020, though it has unfurled as a virtual, live-stream event. The museum will also provide a livestream of this year’s performances and workshop. Details at fretboardfestival.com.
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