The 23rd annual Carrboro Music Festival will be held virtually this weekend, with two days of live-streamed and prerecorded performances that will feature nearly 100 acts from around the Triangle.
The festival starts Oct. 3, with eight acts livestreaming from Cat's Cradle and the Century Center from 2 p.m until 7 p.m. It will continue on Oct. 4 from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m, with 35 acts streaming from Cat's Cradle, the Century Center, The ArtsCenter and 97.9 The Hill.
The venues will not be open to the public throughout the weekend. Performance streams, as well as video of over 50 prerecorded acts, will all be available on the festival’s website. Acts playing at 97.9 The Hill on Sunday will also be broadcast live on-air through the station’s studio.
The Carrboro Recreation, Parks & Cultural Resources Department and the Carrboro Music Festival Planning Committee are coordinating the festival. Charles Harrington, a recreation administrator with the department, said the festival usually brings crowds downtown to enjoy two days of live music.
Harrington said the planning committee knew by early July that the festival would have to adapt to a digital format due to COVID-19. Harrington said he hopes it will still draw in music lovers across the Triangle.
“The fact that you don’t have to physically come out this year, it may allow for more people to tune in,” he said. “It’s just been an exciting process to try and put together a large virtual event like this."
Harrington said this is the first time the festival will be in an online format, and he hopes everything goes well.
Glenn Jones, the festival’s music director, said fewer bands than usual applied to perform this year. But he said it was still a big pool, and the acts playing highlight a talented, local diversity of genres, ages and skill levels.
“One of the strengths of the Carrboro Music Festival to me is that unlike a lot of other festivals, which hire big names to be the draw, Carrboro is all about celebrating local musicians,” Jones said. “The talent is amazing and the skill level is amazing, but one of the main things we’re proud of is that we give a forum and a stage to local folks.”
All acts that perform at the festival are volunteers who donate their time to strengthen the sense of community and get more exposure, according to the festival's website.
Jones said Venmo and PayPal links for the acts will be listed during their performance, so those watching can help financially support them during the pandemic.
“COVID-19 wiped out a whole year’s worth of gigs literally almost overnight,” Jones said. “I don’t think it’s possible to overstate the impact of it both on the musicians and the venues that love and support them and count on them in many cases. It’s going to be a rough road.”
David Criswell, bassist and songwriter for the Chapel Hill six-piece rock band Bellflower, said this will be the band’s first performance since the start of the pandemic.
“We are trying to find ways to get our music out in front of an audience during this time, so we’re excited for the livestream,” Criswell said. “COVID-19 has been devastating for live music, and we’re just excited to have an opportunity to play under any circumstance.”
Bellflower will be performing Oct. 4 at 6:55 p.m. at The ArtsCenter.
Jones said he’s proud that the festival is moving forward with this virtual format.
“In March, one of the options we discussed was not having the festival, so I’m just proud that we’re doing it,” Jones said. “I hope it’s just an encouraging weekend, celebrating music, that reminds people of what an integral part of our lives music is.”
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