If you’re the sick of mega festivals with their corporate sponsorships, bobble-head crowds, and muddy fields in the middle of nowhere, we’ve got a new one for you. It’s where old Hollywood glamor and hardcore truth-talking mingle — the first annual Los Angeles Folk Festival.
The music festival will debut with two days of contemporary folk badassary, curated by Grammy-nominated duo The Milk Carton Kids, held at the historic theater The Ford. The Milk Carton Kids members Joey Ryan and Kenneth Pattengale both grew up in Eagle Rock, a hilly LA neighborhood just a stone’s throw (or more realistically, traffic-y freeway drive) from Laurel Canyon, where folk rock stars like Joni Mitchell, James Taylor and Neil Young all jammed and partied in the 60s and 70s. They hope that this new festival will be a celebration the city’s past and present folk scene, adding another anthropological layer to a lineage that includes “Woody Guthrie’s radio days in the late 1930s, the famously collaborative Laurel Canyon of the 1960’s, [and] the alchemic community of musicians and comedians working here today.”
While Los Angeles may have taken center stage during the folk revival, the genre is deeply rooted in the south and southeastern United States — I still remember the day my young Appalachian self learned Gillian Welch grew up in Los Angeles. Love that woman like nobody’s business, but still. It’s a far cry from coal-mining country — and much of this year’s lineup, hails from other folk tradition epicenters of the United States.
Valerie June grew up singing and promoting gospel music in East Tennessee, Sierra Ferrell’s West Virginia Waltz is a troubled love song to her home state, and David Garza cut his teeth in the blues and country cornerstone of Deep Ellum, Dallas (though he’s currently based in LA). In all, eight artists have been announced so far. So, get ready to kick back and take it all in.
You’re welcome to pack a picnic in, but definitely check out the Ford’s Todo Verde, which serves up vegan Mexican and South American cuisine created by chef Jocelyn Ramirez.
- The Ford Theater can seat up to 1,200 folk music lovers. You can use their app to keep track of your tickets, order food, and read a digital version of the program.
- Tickets for each night start at $90. 2-day packages start at $180. View all the options here.
- If you’ve got the time, make it a music vacay and check out the Joshua Tree Music Festival, held nearby the following weekend, or nerd out over/visit the filming locations of HBO’s controversial and epic series Euphoria. And here is Fifty Grande’s guide to California.
What is the closest airport to the Los Angeles Folk Festival?
Fly into Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), about 24 miles away. For getting into the city, rideshare or the FlyAway shuttle are your best bets.
What accessibility options does the Ford Theater offer?
Wheelchair spaces and companion seats are available, as well as Assistive Listening Devices. Requests for a sign language interpreter should be made at least 5 days in advance. Check out the Ford’s information page for more details.
What can I bring into the theater?
Festival attendees can bring their own food, beer, and wine for picnicking on the theater grounds (hard alcohol isn’t permitted). Make sure to pack your picnic in a carry-on sized cooler: anything larger than 15 inches wide, 12 inches high or 22 inches long won’t be allowed in).
Even though the theater is outdoors, smoking (including e-cigarettes and vaping) and umbrellas are not permitted. Oh, and leave your drone at home, you skeezy tech bro.
Which artists are on the Los Angeles Folk Festival lineup?
Waxahatchee, Sierra Ferrell, The Milk Carton Kids, Willie Watson, Valerie June, Davíd Garza & Freaklórico, Tré Burt, Haley Heynderickx.