Let there be no mistake: Long Beach loves its folk—and with good reason. For many, the mixture of banjos, mandolins, and autoharps paired with emotionally charged lyrics are the defining characteristics of folk music that attract them in the first place.
And it’s why, for the fourth year running, the Long Beach Folk Revival Festival will hit Rainbow Lagoon Park with all its musical wonders, including the announcement of headliner The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (NGDB), one of Long Beach’s most influential bands and their first show in their hometown in over 40 years.
A rarity for solo artists let alone bands, NGDB celebrate 50 years—yes, you read that right—in music this year after forming in 1966 and going through subtle changes in both name and band members. (From 1976 to 1981, they recorded as The Dirt Band and fiddler John McEuen ditched the crew in 1986 only to return in 2001 while mandolin master Jimmy Ibbotson left in 2004.) This accomplishment prompted Jackson Browne and Vince Gill to garner the support of PBS to air Circlin’ Back: Celebrating 50 Years, a performance by the country-rock-folk crew at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium back in September.
This return marks a descent that the band hasn’t seen since the 1980s, when it dominated country charts and award seasons. (The guest-heavy LP Will the Circle Be Unbroken, Volume II, nabbed the crew three Grammy Awards and the Country Music Association’s Album of the Year.)
For those who question NGDB’s influence, just take a gander at current country’s obsession with beaches—which can be directly connected to NGDB. From Dierks Bentley’s “Somewhere on a Beach” to Blake Shelton’s “Some Beach,” NGDB’s An American Dream (and, of course, Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville) broke the pop barrier with a country wrecking ball and bringing in sand’n’sunshine onto a genre that was mostly known for whiskey drownin’ lamentation.
While last year welcomed Deer Tick spearheading the main stage, this headliner brings the festival to new heights (while offering a distinctly respectable nod toward Long Beach as a place of musical creativity). Joining the Dirt Band will be:
- The White Buffalo
- Chuck Ragan
- JD McPherson
- Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys
- Willy Tea Taylor
- Leo “Bud” Welch
- The Lowest Pair
- Paige Anderson & The Fearless Kin
- Moonsville Collective
- Pearl Charles
- Ben Townsend & Friends
- Big Bad Rooster
- Honey Whiskey Trio
- Smoggy Mountain String Band
The event will span twelve hours from 11AM to 11PM on September 17 at Rainbow Lagoon. Special activities within the event include a beard contest, gourmet food, craft beers, an interactive kid’s area, and a vintage bazaar shopping experience. Tickets are on sale and are currently $30 in advance; that will rise to $40 in August and $50 at the door. VIP tickets will cost $70. Children under 12 and seniors 75 years of age and older can enter for free. Tickets can be purchased here.