The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band will play their hometown of Long Beach for the first time in over 40 years when they headline the 2016 Long Beach Folk Revival Festival. Photo: NGDB Facebook page
The Long Beach Folk Revival has brought banjo playin, spoon slappin, country twangin artists to the streets of Downtown for the last four years but this year’s iteration will pack a historic punch as festival organizers announced today that seminal American roots act, and Long Beach natives, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (NGDB) will headline this year’s Revival.
In an historic appearance, the NGDB will play its hometown for the first time in over 40 years after adding the Folk Revival as one the countless stops on its 50th anniversary tour. Event organizer Shea Newkirk said that the fest, scheduled for September 17 at Rainbow Lagoon Park, had been in talks with the band for a few years but for one reason or another it never worked out.
However, the two sides were able to come to terms and bring the prodigal sons back to the LBC to celebrate their golden anniversary where it all began.
“They haven’t played a show here in over 40 years so we thought it would be a really great story and a great kind of topper to our festival to have them there and really making it a historic event, having them in Long Beach, their hometown for their 50th anniversary,” Newkirk said. “I don’t know if you know many bands that last that long, there are almost none.”
NGDB was founded in Long Beach in 1966 and its earliest lineup included future rock and roll great Jackson Browne. The group went onto a hall of fame career after relocating to Colorado decades ago having piled up accolades including numerous multi-platimum and gold records as well as having their “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” album inducted to the Grammy Hall of Fame and the U.S. Library of Congress.
Landing the group for this year’s festival was a big get for the event’s organizers even if the band isn’t readily recognizable to the younger portion of attendees. Newkirk said that the group will certainly be a big draw for the 40 and over crowd that remember the group in its heyday, but added that younger festival goers can also enjoy the work of this seminal American band.
Bringing diverse lineups to the thousands of expected attendees has always been a focus for event, Newkirk said, and while the music plays a central role in the fest, it’s building an environment that can appeal to everyone in the community that is the endgame for the festival.
“The thing that I really enjoy is the fact that we can provide that for people who have this experience and remember this band and love playing their songs but we can also expose a new generation to an amazing act that they have never heard of,” Newkirk said. “That’s kind of what we try to do at the Folk Revival Festival with all of our lineups.”
Joining the Nitty Gritty on the lineup is Los Angeles’s The White Buffalo, a one-man act whose notoriety swelled after being featured in FX’s Sons of Anarchy. Chuck Ragan (Hot Water Music), JD McPherson, Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite and others will also fill out the day-long music portion of the festival.
One change to previous years will be the reconfiguration of the two main stage performance areas in an attempt to cut out some of the audio bleeding that had been experienced in past years. Still, Newkirk said the fest’s location at Rainbow Lagoon Park is a premier spot to host the event. Other attractions at the Folk Revival include contests that will recognize banjo playing and pie eating skills as well as a popular beard and mustache competition.
This year the fest has added a second eating competition for children, however, the pie have been replaced with watermelon. A craft pavilion where locally-made goods will be sold has also been added to the “Vintage Bazaar” which has served as a staple for the fest in its first few years. Last year’s event drew over 6,000 attendees and with the addition of the NGDB that number is expected to increase to over 8,000 according to event organizers.
Tickets for the 2016 Long Beach Folk Revival Festival are $35 in advance ($40 after August 1) or can be purchased for $50 at the door. Admission for children under 12 and seniors over the age of 75 is free.