• May 28, 2024
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Sandburg Music Festival features blues, square dancing, folk

Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site hosts the annual Sandburg Music Festival from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, June 8.

The free festival, supported by the Friends of Carl Sandburg at Connemara, the Arts Council of Henderson County and America’s National Parks, features live music at the amphitheater and barnyard highlighting the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet’s other legacies as music collector and children’s author and the Sandburg family’s love of square dancing.

Visitors may bring lawn chairs, food and non-alcoholic drinks. Light snacks and water will be sold in the Park Store/Visitor Center in the Sandburg Home. Due to expected large crowds, pets will not be allowed at performances. In case of severe weather, the event will be canceled. Check the park’s Facebook page and website for updates.




  • 10 a.m.: Jennifer Armstrong kicks off festivities with storytelling for kids of all ages, to honor Sandburg’s Rootabaga Stories, which were tales written for his daughters.  Jennifer has spent her life writing, singing, and making music with fiddle, bagpipe, banjo, and words.  She was a featured teller at the National Storytelling Festival and has been heard on NPR.
  •  Noon: Laura Boosinger celebrates the music of Appalachia through old-time banjo, guitar, Appalachian dulcimer and fingerstyle Autoharp. She attended Warren Wilson College in the 1970s, where she learned clawhammer banjo, called Southern Mountain Square dances, and attended Shaped Note Singing School with North Carolina Folk Heritage Award winner Quay Smathers. Boosinger is a consultant to Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina and the voice of its podcast, “Down the Road on the Blue Ridge Music Trails.” In 2017, she was inducted into the Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame.
  •  2 p.m.: Mac Arnold plays the Blues with Austin Brashier and Max Hightower. At age 24, Arnold joined the Muddy Waters Band, shaping the electric blues sound of the 1960s and ’70s. He  has shared stages with Howlin’ Wolf, Jimmy Reed and Big Mama Thornton.  In 2012, Mac was nominated for the Blues Foundation’s Traditional Blues Male Artist Award and also received a Blues Blast Music Award Nomination for Traditional Blues Recording of the Year, with Plate Full O’Blues.  In 2014, he received an Honorary Doctorate in Music from the University of South Carolina. Max Hightower started his music career at age 12 when he bought his first blues cassette tape, “Muddy Mississippi Live by Muddy Waters.”  He plays keyboard, guitar, bass and sings. Harmonica is his instrument of choice. A founding member of Plate Full O’Blues, Hightower has shared stages with Hubert Sumlin, Willie Smith and Leon Everette.



Barn Garage


10:45 a.m.-noon: Walter Puckett calls Mountain Circle Square Dances. A festival first, legendary square danc caller Walt Puckett will help dancers celebrate the Sandburgs’ love of square dancing. Puckett called his first dance at age 9 at a PTA event with his third-grade class. He has traveled with the Blue Ridge Mountain Dancers and the Stoney Mountain Cloggers, winning many awards, and had the ultimate privilege to dance at the Grand Ole Opry. This year he celebrates his 80th birthday.




Noon-2 p.m.: Henderson County natives Steve and Jean Smith play mountain dulcimer and hammered dulcimer.  They perform regularly at Carl Sandburg Home.  They have taught dulcimer at festivals and workshops nationwide.  In 1984, Steve won the National Hammered Dulcimer Championships at the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, Kansas. He returned to win the 1985 National Mountain Dulcimer Championships at Winfield, only the second person to win both championships.


Free Sandburg Home tours

As part of Music Fest, free Sandburg Home tours will be offered at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. Tickets are first come, first serve in the Visitor Center/Park Store (on the Sandburg Home ground floor) beginning at 9:30 a.m.

Parking, shuttles

Parking is limited. Please consider carpooling or taking a ride share or taxi.
 Three parking lots will have shuttle service. Approximate shuttle times will be posted in all parking lots with shuttle service. Visitors with mobility concerns are strongly urged to take a shuttle.






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