The North Carolina State Fair has many free entertainment options that are perfect for anyone, no matter the musical preference. The Homegrown Music Fest at the North Carolina State Fair is a free event that showcases the best of North Carolina music. It features over 100 acts on two stages over the length of the Fair. Artists are from a wide range of genres, including rock, country, bluegrass, blues, jazz, and hip hop.
The Homegrown Music Fest is a great way to discover new music and support local artists. It is also a fun family-friendly event, with something for everyone to enjoy. With so much talent, you might just find your new favorite band. Here are a few highlights that will be performing on the Live & Local Waterfall Music Stage and the Heritage Circle State this year.
Riggsbee Road is a seven person, all female band formed in the height of Covid. Shelley Kelley began thinking of her dreams, and a band was what came to mind. Inspired by the Dixie Chicks, she wanted to form an all-female bluegrass group.
“We want to play music that people know but make it sound like that wholesome and earthy bluegrass vibe, that was the vision. We remake songs with our instruments, we do it our Riggsbee Road way,” Kelley said.
What exactly is the Riggsbee Road way? The answer can be found in their performances. The group is high-energy on stage, but it’s the three-part vocal harmonies that take the music to the top. Hearing a bluegrass version of songs like Harry Styles’ ‘Watermelon Sugar’ with powerful harmonies is unlikely to be heard before.
“When you find vocalists who hear harmonies where there aren’t any it’s just beautiful,” Kelley said. “We have found a group of ladies that are passionate about it. When we get on the stage it gives me chills.”
Kelley has many memories at the North Carolina State Fair but enjoys the scenery above it all. Things like sunsets and smiling faces are what keeps her coming back. As a performer, she’s looking forward to seeing the audience that the Homegrown Music Fest attracts.
“I am looking forward to seeing a lot of familiar faces in the audience,” Kelley said. “We usually play private events, but now we’re able to invite our family and friends. Since the Fair is right here in our hometown, I’m excited to see those faces.”
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Christian James is a Raleigh-based artist that uses his music to push the boundaries of hip hop and blend myriad genres with a live band ensemble. Twelve years ago, Christian was inspired by rap and rock music and picked up a pen to start writing and never put it down.
Describing his music as a blend of indie-pop, hip-hop and rock, he blends genres to create high energy music that will translate to his bands on-stage performances. A group of six, James and his band are excited to be a part of the 2023 N.C. State Fair.
James’ inspiration comes from being able to see reactions from the people who hear his songs. As a writer and performer, he says that he “likes being able to make people feel something when it comes to seeing a live performance.” He hopes his performances separate his audience from mundane life but also enjoys how music is a good way to express himself.
Looking back, James remembers going to the State Fair throughout his childhood and seeing live performances. Now he has come full circle, being a performer himself.
“The State Fair is a huge event so I think playing there will be nostalgic but it’s also a good opportunity to be able to perform in front of the North Carolina community.”
With many good memories of State Fairs in years past, James and his band are ready to hit the Live and Local Waterfall Music Stage and give a performance that is sure to stick with the audience. These reactions are what James is looking forward to this year.
“I can’t wait to get the chance to let people who wouldn’t find my music to hear my stuff. This is a great opportunity to connect with a bunch of different demographics. Anyone and everyone show up at the State Fair, so I’m excited to see people’s reactions.
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Tina & Her Pony
Tina Collins is Asheville’s indie Appalachian folk songsmith. Collins bends the rules of genre with her sound. The composure, harmonies, lyrics and vocals of Tinas music come together to create an indie-Appalachian-folk sound.
“I like the word indie because I am independent. I feel like it refers to the fact that you can bend a genre and help it evolve,” Collins said. “I don’t stay too traditional; I do what I want and follow my muse.”
Collins is not scared to bend the rules of genre. Beginning her musical career in opera, it was things like music theory that helped her realize her true passion.
“I’ve always loved to sing, and I’ve always sung in choirs growing up,” Collins said. “I came to songwriting and guitar a little later, at 18, and then started learning piano. I even went to a music conservatory to study opera. It was fun to dive deep into music theory and I realized that I really wanted to be a songwriter and sing folk music.”
From there, she evolved her passion for folk music into Tina & Her Pony. The name originates from the phrase “every little girl wants a pony.” As a little girl, she never wanted a pony, but always knew that she wanted to perform.
“This is my dream come true, my music is my vehicle for travel and performance. Of course, ponies inspire images and sounds of country music and nature. Its nice that my name fits with the genre that I’m in,” Collins said.
Having been in North Carolina for 15 years, Collins’ performance at the 2019 N.C. State Fair was her first experience, so she is excited to come back to the Heritage Circle Stage with new music to play.
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