Catalyst Festival

Catalyst 2023

JULY 15-16, 2023


Head to Asheville for the first-ever Catalyst Festival, a two-day celebration of grassroots southern music and sustainable mountain culture.

The vibe? Hip-swaying, for sure. How you’d move if you fused your friend’s super cool, Doc-Marten-wearing older sister with a pine tree in a windstorm. If that’s your speed, head to Asheville this July for the first-ever Catalyst Festival, two days of southern roots music plus local food and workshops. 

Leah Song and Chloe Smith, frontwomen of the folk ensemble Rising Appalachia, are the weekend’s organizers. You’ll catch sets from their band, as well as Valerie June’s ethereal, bluesy crooning and Dirtwire’s eco-futuristic beat drops (apparently swamptronica is a thing, and I’m really into it). It’s a celebration of a wide range of the South’s urban and rural musical cultures, from New Orleans jazz to Appalachian old-time to hip-hop. 

Great music doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Given Rising Appalachia’s long-time investment in social and environmental justice, it’s not surprising that Catalyst moves beyond run-of-the-mill tie-dye shirts, band merch and festival activities. Each afternoon, you can get down and happily dirty with workshops on urban foraging, yoga, herbalism and mural art. A speaker series is also in the works, though details aren’t yet announced. With multiple indoor and outdoor spaces (including a bar in a giant PBR can), Catalyst is shaping up to be a great place to spend the weekend: get down on the dance floor, sure, then soak up some sun in one of those multicolored Adirondack chairs. 

The Specs

  • There are no attendance numbers for this festival, though the festival organizers said Catalyst can “accommodate up to 3000 people” and will have “a more limited number of attendees for the workshop portion.” 
  • The Lion’s Mane full pass is $300, and includes all weekend concerts and workshops. Tickets for both evening concerts are $99. Single-day (full and evening concert only) tickets are also available. 
  • Looking for other things to do in Asheville? Check out Fifty Grande’s guide here.


What’s the best way to get to and from Catalyst 2023?

Asheville has a regional airport (AVL), with public buses running to and from downtown (take the S3 route, which runs daily every hour and a half 7:30am-4:40pm). Many hotels also provide free shuttles. 

Is Catalyst kid- and/or pet-friendly? 

This festival is particularly family-friendly: kids under 7 can groove for free. Leave the pets at home.

Is Catalyst ADA accessible?

Yes, parking and seating are available for people with physical handicaps. If you have other specific needs or questions about access, please contact [email protected].

Who’s playing?

Rising Appalachia, Valerie June, DirtWire, Starling Arrow, The Reminders with Aja Black, Branden J. Lewis of Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Sierra Hollister, Hawah Kasat, and more yet to be announced.


#risingappalachia on TikTok

BY Katherine James