WV Culturefest World Music & Arts Festival Celebrates 20 Years

The Culturefest World Music and Arts Festival returns to the Appalachian South Folklife Center in Pipestem, WV September 7-10 for its 20th edition. The event is a weekend-long immersion in the creative arts featuring over 40 music and dance performances, artisan and retail vendors, workshops, kids’ activities, healing arts, facilitated discussions, camping and much more.

Three stages feature regional, national and international artists from around the East coast and as far away as Istanbul, Turkey with styles ranging from Americana, Appalachian Folk and Bluegrass to Soul, Rock, Funk and World Fusion with performance art, poetry, live painting, fire dance and more. Workshops are offered in yoga, drumming, up-cycled art and hoop dancing. Facilitated discussions called “Conversations at Culturefest” explore topics such as the healing power of storytelling. Astronomer Dave Buhrman of WV Sky Tours will be on hand with his telescopes for star and planet gazing and fire spinners will light up the night.

Artisans will offer their wares from handmade clothing to jewelry to fine art and more, with local favorites like Rainbow Art Farms, The Gaia Den, RiffRaff Arts Collective, Mooncraft Botanicals, Botany Tropicals, and many more. A variety of food and drink will be available for purchase including Jamaican, Thai, Tex-Mex, Cuban/Puerto-Rican, vegetarian options, specialty teas, coffee, smoothies, and ice cream. Popular food businesses like Wild Roots Coffeehouse and Vonte’s Kitchen are on tap along with others from around the region.

The children’s village will feature craft activities each day, a kids’ costume parade, and other activities. Furniture lounges make relaxing spots to kick back and relax, and provide shelter so the fun can continue in case of rain. Guests may camp on site for the weekend, and immerse themselves in the colorful experience in the beautiful WV Mountains, or they may enjoy the amenities of nearby Pipestem State Park. The goal of the festival is to promote unity, bringing people together through music and the arts in a beautiful mountain setting.

Organizers say they take great care in curating the performance lineup, searching for musicians who have passion and purpose, unique styles and seasoned skills. This year’s performance lineup is, as always, stacked with amazing talent:

  Toubab Krewe is a vibrant instrumental powerhouse that creates a sonic Pangaea with African traditions, jam sensibilities and  international folk strains. The music recognizes no borders in a march towards a muscular, original, globally switched-on sound.  They’ve toured extensively, with appearances at major U.S. festivals like Bonnaroo, High Sierra, Rothbury and Wakarusa, and abroad at such legendary gatherings as the Festival In The Desert in Essakane, Mali.Collaborations with luminaries like Last Poets’ Umar Bin Hassan and Uncle Earl’s Rayna Gellert earned the respect of a broad musical community. TK carries echoes of African greats like Ali Farka Toure, Orchestra Baobab and Salif Keita, picked up during travels in Guinea, Ivory Coast and Mali. What differentiates TK from other Statesiders inspired by African music is how they innovate  instead of simply recreating tradition. Toubab Krewe carves out a new trail honoring the African originators they admire by making something alive and contemporary. toubabkrewe.com

  Raquy Danziger is an internationally acclaimed musician, artist, teacher and composer based in Jaffa. Considered to be one of the foremost experts and virtuosos on the oriental goblet drum known as the darbuka, Raquy is renowned for her electrifying performances. Through her concerts, compositions, and teaching methodology, Raquy has made a significant contribution toward elevating the darbuka from a humble folk drum to a shining solo instrument fit for a concert hall. Through her mission to introduce the darbuka to people all over the world, Raquy has inspired a new generation of players.  In addition to drumming, Raquy plays the mystical twelve-string King Kemenche Tarhu, and is a disciple of the Azeri kemenche master Imamyar Hasanov and Arslan Hazretti. Raquy has released thirteen albums, five darbuka method books, and two volumes of her original compositions. Her educational offerings are available through her online darbuka school: Darbukaschool.com. More than two thousand students are currently enrolled in her courses. Raquy has performed, taught, and been a featured guest at festivals in Germany, Egypt, Poland, Japan,Russia, Canada, Ukraine, Mexico, Bosnia, India, USA, Italy, Uzbekistan, Israel, Spain, Greece and Turkey. When the world shut down in 2019 she immersed herself in the ancient art for of illumination painting and wrote a vegan cookbook. raquy.com

  Option 22 – The music project of festival founders and arts entrepreneurs Lori McKinney and Robert Blankenship, this infectious, eclectic Americana groove is led by her powerful, yet soothing vocals dancing atop his smooth, soulful flow. Positive lyrics inspire unity and call for change. Based in Princeton, Lori and Robert have been writing & playing music together since 2004. Now infusing the mix are the highly skilled & ever-flowing bass lines of Brandon Dunn, the rock solid, hard hitting rhythms of Ary’an Graham (drums) and the soulful guitar stylings of Jacob Brooks (lead guitar). As a group, they understand the power of music to heal & transform, and they use their creative gifts to make a positive impact on the world around them. Robert & Lori live and work within a multi-purpose creative zone they created in downtown Princeton, The RiffRaff Arts Collective, which is revitalizing a one dark, depressed area with color and life. They also founded and run this festival. The other musicians orbit around the collective, bringing their talents and spirits around often, forming a sphere of creativity and good vibes. option22.net

  Billboard-charting bluegrass artists Liam Purcell & Cane Mill Road perform internationally and stateside winning both industry awards and the hearts of fans. Growing up just down the road from Doc Watson, Liam Purcell leads Cane Mill Road as they rock the traditional bluegrass standards they were raised on, yet boldly write original music with roots in the fertile grounds of bluegrass, old-time, and Americana. Their powerful arrangements and dynamic stage presence have landed them main stage slots at legendary festivals across the country. Named Momentum Band of the Year by IBMA in 2019, Liam Purcell & Cane Mill Road have been recognized as one of the fastest growing bands in the industry. Their latest release “Roots” debuted at #6 on the Billboard Bluegrass Album Charts, joining their three previous albums for a total of 12 weeks in the Top 10. In 2022, bandleader Liam Purcell turned heads by sweeping the Rockygrass Instrumental Championships on Guitar, Mandolin, and Banjo, becoming the first person in history to do so. You’ve seen Liam Purcell & Cane Mill Road on national TV with PBS appearances on David Holt’s State of Music and Woodsongs Old-Time Radio Hour. Other performance highlights include Merlefest, Grey Fox, The Berklee Performance Center, and Wide Open Bluegrass. Canemillroad.com

  Adama Dembele is a master djembefola (djembe player) from the Ivory Coast, West Africa. Born into a family of musicians, he has toured several continents with various major acts such as Oumou Sangare, Salif Keita, Affou Keita, Sogona Djata, and many others. Adama has played in several drum and dance companies such as Yelembad’abidjan, Ensemble Koteba, Congoba, and many more. In 2002, in collaboration with Siriki Sanogo, Adama founded Djembeso CI Drum and Dance Ensemble. “Djembeso” in the West African dialect Bambara means “the house of djembe.” Adama chose that name because his family has been playing the djembe for 33 generations and his native home was known as the house where the djembe is played. In 2005, Adama moved to the U.S. to perform and teach the sacred art of West African drumming. Since then he has played in major cities all over the United States. Currently, Adama resides in Asheville, NC, where he frequently performs and teaches authentic rhythms from Ivory Coast, Mali, and Guinea, West Africa. theleaf.org/product/west-african-drumming

  Mama & The Ruckus is led by the powerhouse vocals of Melissa McKinney, “Mama.” She writes songs about the trauma and pain that every person inevitably experiences in their lives. She sings these songs as a cry for hope, healing, and inspiration to others and you hear that in every single note that the band plays and that she sings.  This intergenerational project is based out of Asheville, NC featuring original music inspired by blues and soul music. The mission of the band is to spread joy and ignite healing so we can better our communities and ultimately the world. Their newest single, Cross the Border is a call to action. It addresses the people who still hold beliefs and ideals that are dangerous to mankind and to people who have been and continue to be oppressed. melissamckinneymusic.com/mama-and-the-ruckus

Other WV acts include Andrew Adkins & 1863, CassiRaye, James Hart, The Charleston Rogues, The Parachute Brigade, Minor Swing, Je’dah Madison, Jordan Furrow, Shine Resonance, and Tim & Maggie. Out of state acts include Fred Nez-Keams, Holy River, Brinjal, Kathryn O’Shea, GOTE, Kennedy OneSelf, Infinite Third, The Get Right Band, McKinney, Whitney Mongé, Aire & Sol, Brinjal, André Lassalle and Ginger Wixx.

Featured live painters and visual artists include Harrison Lance Crawford, Lacey Vilandry, Shannon Shine, Leah Towler, Luanna Harrison, Chaz Heiber and more. The event will be MC’d by Doc Atwell of NFA Entertainment and Sam Franz.

Attendees will also have the chance to participate in music-making during facilitated workshops in West African drumming, Middle Eastern Drumming, Belly Dance, hoop dancing and flow arts, yoga and meditation, as well as drum circles in early evening and at midnight. Late night jams by the fire pit are a popular feature, and guests will encounter opportunities to connect with the performers and workshop providers in a laid back atmosphere throughout the site. A popular Culturefest tradition is the community art boards, which will be available throughout the weekend stocked with paint and brushes, and anyone is welcome to leave their mark. These spontaneous, collaborative works of art are a vibrant centerpiece of the festivities.

Tickets are available online at culturefestwv.com and at the gate; advance tickets are recommended. A full weekend pass, including all 4 days’ activities plus camping, costs $90 in advance, $100 at the gate. Locals may purchase a full weekend pass for $75 at The RiffRaff at 869 Mercer Street in Princeton Mon-Sat from 10am-6pm, with a valid ID until Sept. 5. College students may purchase all tickets at 50% off at The RiffRaff until 9/5. Day passes do not include camping. They are $20 in advance, $25 at the gate for Thursday and Sunday, and $40 in advance, $50 at the gate for Friday and Saturday. Children’s tickets are sharply discounted; see the website for those prices. Kids 5 & under are free.

Volunteer opportunities are available that offer free tickets and perks. Visit culturefestwv.com/volunteer to sign up.

The event is presented by LLyniuM entertainment and The RiffRaff Arts Collective in cooperation with the Appalachian South Folklife Center with assistance from these sponsors: Explore Summers County CVB, Country Inn & Suites, Fairfield by Marriott, Hampton by Hilton and Holiday Inn Express, WVU Medicine/Princeton Community Hospital, Princeton Rescue Squad, Princeton Storage, Ramey Toyota, Seaver Funeral Home, Classic Hits 98.3, and a host of advertisers. The program is presented with financial assistance from the West Virginia Division of Culture & History, and the National Endowment for the Arts, with approval from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts.

Additional information can be found online at culturefestwv.com and by calling 304-320-8833.

Story By

Heather Niday

Heather is our Program Director and Traffic Manager. She started with Allegheny Mountain Radio as a volunteer deejay. She then joined the AMR staff in February of 2007. Heather grew up in the Richmond, Virginia, area and now lives in Arbovale, West Virginia with her husband Chuck. Heather is a wonderful flute player, and choir director for Arbovale UMC. You can hear Heather along with Chuck on Tuesday nights from 6 to 8pm as they host two hours of jazz on Something Different.

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