In its third year, the Denton Folk Festival is getting worldly.
Matt Grigsby, a co-founder of the festival and a leader of its presenting nonprofit, the Denton Songwriters Guild, said the festival is dedicating its final day to world music. Mariachi, zydeco, Irish traditional and South Asian fusion music are all on the bill.
“We stay pretty close to folk music with this festival,” Grigsby said. “We’ve got folk, Americana — and even with the world music, all of that is folk music when it’s set in its cultural traditions.”
A cold snap hobbled last year’s festival, prompting the guild to move the event from April to October. This year’s festival will be at Backyard on Bell, a popular outdoor venue in downtown Denton. Grigsby said a festival draws more people out than a typical weeknight — or weekend — show.
“It’s the atmosphere. The ambiance, the feel,” he said. “You get a songwriter group together and it’s hard to get people out. With a festival, you get people out. Even with a venue like Backyard on Bell, if you put ‘festival’ in the name, you get people out who might not go to a show.”
Most of the festival’s bill is Denton talent: Sarah Carrino, Isaac Hoskins, the Boxcar Bandits, Blue GrassFire, R.W. Ratcliff and Edgar Derby on Oct. 4; Levi Cobb & the Big Smoke, Joe Pat Hennen, Jarod Grice, CityFolk, Deep in the Grass and Polly & the Pumpkineers on Oct. 5; Mariachi Quetzal and County Rexford on Oct. 6.
The festival brings some Austin musicians to the scene, too. Josh Halverson, a contender on Season 11 of The Voice, plays a set on Oct. 4. American Dreamer plays Oct. 5, as well as Dallas act the Gawd Almighties.
On Oct. 6, Ley Line — an Austin quartet that blends Brazilian, Latin American and West African sounds — shares the bill with Dallas act Jay B & the Zydeco Posse and Austin’s South Asian fusion trio Sangeet Millennium.
“I hope the audience is as diverse as the music,” Grigsby said. “When we were putting this together, something I figured out was that there really isn’t a world music scene in DFW. There’s a world music scene in Austin.”
Grigsby said the event is family-friendly. This year marks the first for the Folk Festival to have three days of music.
There’s still a family showcase with Polly & the Pumpkineers on Saturday. A few vendors will be onsite, and Pint Services will be screen-printing T-shirts and merchandise.
Grigsby said his original inspiration for the festival — the Kerrville Folk Festival — still stands as the model for the Denton Folk Festival of the future.
“I’d still love for this to be a camping festival,” he said. Kerrville attracts thousands who pitch tents and spend days in jam sessions and watching showcases.
“I think it serves our ultimate goal. Songwriting and folk music go hand in hand, but this is about creating something sustainable for the musicians. For this to be the event we want it to be really just takes a good crowd, good weather and musicians having a good time and getting paid. Even if we come up broke to do that, we’ll have had a good festival.”