Charlie Poole Music Festival 2023
Rockingham Community College in Wentworth, NC.
June 9 & 10, 2023
After a three-year hiatus, the Charlie Poole Festival is BACK! This year, the two-day festival will be held Friday, June 9th, and Saturday, June 10th on the campus of Rockingham Community College (215 Wrenn Memorial Rd, Wentworth, NC). This festival will be the biggest and best yet with nationally known artists, local artisan and craft vendors, workshops, and music competitions for both youth and adults.
The Charlie Poole Festival is a great way to experience the music world of country and bluegrass, a world in which Charlie Poole set the standard. This year’s musical line-up has shaped up to be one for the books, including musical performances by Dom Flemons, Riley Baugus, Chance McCoy, High Fidelity, DaShawn & Wendy Hickman present Sacred Steel, New North Carolina Ramblers, and many more! The main stage will have plenty of grass seating but it’s encouraged for festival goers to bring a chair and/or blanket so they can sit back and enjoy the show.
For those musically inclined guests, there will be a variety of competitions throughout the festival where musicians can not only show off their musical talent but enter to win cash prizes. Categories include youth vocal-solo, vocal-duet, guitar, fiddle, banjo, and band; any age vocal-solo, vocal-duet, folk song, Charlie Poole song, open instrument, flat pick guitar, fingerstyle guitar, bluegrass fiddle, old-time fiddle, bluegrass banjo, claw hammer banjo, bluegrass band, old-time band, and the grand prize, GRAND CHAMPION BANJO – $1,000 winner take all – old time, 3-finger, Charlie Poole style banjo.
We hope to see everyone there!
Boondock camping (no water/sewer or electrical hookups) is available onsite from Thursday, June 8th at 5:00 pm until Sunday, June 11th at 11 am. Campers are responsible for the cleanliness of their site. No open campfires, alcohol, or tobacco are allowed on the campus of RCC. The camping fee covers the duration of the stay. Camping spots are limited to 6-8 people and is limited to one structure (i.e. camper, travel trailer, tent, etc) per site.
Who We Are
The Charlie Poole Music Festival, now in its third decade, is a project of Piedmont Folk Legacies, Inc., a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote and preserve the musical and cultural legacy of the Piedmont region and to celebrate its influence on the development of American vernacular music, as exemplified by Charlie Poole. Beginning in 2018, the festival will be held on at its new home on the campus of Rockingham Community College in Wentworth, NC.
History of the Festival
Carved from the very foundations of the southern textile industry, country music was formed by the early twentieth century genius that was Charlie Poole, a textile mill worker and banjoist in Spray, North Carolina (now Eden). Poole and his band, the North Carolina Ramblers traveled in 1925 from Spray to New York to make their first recording for Columbia Records, a hit that went on to revolutionize American music history. In 1995, members of the Eden Preservation Society realized the need to recognize this special heritage, and decided to do so in the form of a music festival in Poole’s honor.
The first year was marked by not one, but two, festivals, with performances mainly by local artists (the area is still rich with musical talent). After several years, the decision was made to seek more well-known acts to perform in addition to the local performers. Many of the true-greats of American music have graced the stage of the Charlie Poole Music Festival – Norman & Nancy Blake, Tony Rice, the Osborne Brothers, J.D. Crowe and Mike Seeger – to name a few.
Piedmont Folk Legacies, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, was created to usher the Charlie Poole Music Festival into its second decade. A competition was added in the 11th year with an emphasis on Poole-style banjo and related string band instruments. Concerts continue to feature the quality performances for which the event has become known. And fans continue to come from around the country and around the world to soak up the rich heritage that is our legacy – the legacy of Charlie Poole.
The tenth anniversary festival held in May, 2005 was honored to host the release of a wonderful retrospective CD box set of Poole’s music and influences You Ain’t Talkin’ to Me: Charlie Poole and the Roots of Country Music (Columbia Legacy) produced by Hank Sapoznik. Also, in September, 2010, Piedmont Folk Legacies was honored to present a special benefit concert by Loudon Wainwright III in recognition of his Grammy-winning double cd, “High, Wide and Handsome: The Charlie Poole Project.”