3 Days, 6 Stages: The Folk Festival Returns to Downtown Tucson | Music

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Folk music fans in Tucson have been dreaming of this weekend since the pandemic shut everything down in March 2020.

For the first time since spring 2019, the Tucson Folk Festival is back to its pre-pandemic state.

Here’s a look at the festival – which runs from Friday April 1 to Sunday April 3 – in numbers:

127 numbers performing on six stages in and around downtown Jacomé Plaza, 101 N. Stone Ave.

22 hours of live entertainment over three days





Nickel Creek’s Sean and Sara Watkins are among the 17 headliners at the festival this weekend.


Jacob Boll


17 nationally acclaimed headliners including Watkins Family Hour with Nickel Creek’s Sean and Sara Watkins, six-time Grammy winner Tish Hinojosa, John Coinman, Chris Brashear and Peter McLaughlin, Stillhouse Junkies, Ryanhood, Curley Taylor and Zydeco Trouble and Freddy & Francine.

10 songwriting finalists performing in the annual Stefan George Memorial Songwriting Contest Showcase.

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$0 admission—yes, it’s free—for Saturday and Sunday events; it’s $10 for the Songwriters Showcase at the Congress Hotel, 311 E. Congress St., on Friday, April 1. Donations are welcome through tucsonfolkfest.org.

Last year, the festival went hybrid, with a handful of socially-distanced in-person concerts at the MSA Annex and a drive-in stage at Park Place Mall, and live-streamed events.






A singer performs on the Plaza Stage in El Presidio Park during the annual Tucson Folk Festival, held downtown.


Arizona Daily Star Kelly Presnell


“We were the first music festival that I knew was coming back after COVID,” said Matt Rolland, who oversees the festival as chairman of the Tucson Kitchen Musicians Association. “This year, we are thrilled to be back downtown, to return to this familiar place. It will definitely have a familiar feel.

The Songwriting Contest Showcase kicks off the 2022 festival at 6:30 p.m. Friday on the Congress Hotel’s outdoor stage, with performances by finalists of the annual songwriting contest named after longtime Tucson singer-songwriter Stefan George. George died in 2015 at the age of 62.

“Were excited. I think it’s going to be a big year for the festival,” Rolland said. “We just have an amazing variety that really represents ‘the genre.

National artists from across the country, including Curley Taylor from Louisiana, New York singer-songwriter Brett Altman and California singer-songwriter Simon Lunche, are sprinkled with a heavy dose of acts from Tucson of all the nuances of acoustic music:






Sophia Rankin & the Sound — left to right, bassist Eli Leki-Albano, drummer Connor Rankin, vocalist Sophia Rankin and guitarist Noah Weig-Pickering — are back in the Folk Festival lineup.


Taylor Christmas Photography


Bluegrass meets punk rock with the trio Whiskey treatswhich performs at local breweries, farmers markets and Monterey Court.

Pop-leaning American singer-songwriter Sophia Rankin and soundwho debuted after winning the 2017 Tucson Desert Song Festival songwriting competition and 2018 Stefan George.

American/folk duo Riso — Matt Rolland and his wife and run boy run bandmate Rebekah Rolland – is releasing her debut album soon and will likely give Folk Festival audiences a taste of it.

Singer-songwriter Gabriel Naim Amore teams up with LA drummer/singer-songwriter Elizabeth Goodfellow.

A slew of Tucson favorites – guitarist Pete Fine, blueswoman Heather “Lil ‘Mama” Hardy, Amber Norgaard & Friends, John Coinman Band, Kevin Pakulis, Lara Ruggles, the McCallion Band with Nancy McCallion, classic country singer Mamma Coal and Ryanhood – will surely attract a large audience.

“There are a lot of great local artists,” Rolland said.

Most local and regional artists will play 45 minute sets while headliners will play an hour or more.

The festival also gives newcomers the chance to perform on the Wildflower Stage for Young Artists, which is always a big attraction for the festival. The stage is on the grassy hill just west of the Joel Valdez Library in Place Jacomé.

For the complete show schedule and lineup of artists, visit tucsonfolkfest.org.

Contact journalist Cathalena E. Burch at [email protected] On Twitter @Starburch


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