The North Carolina Folk Festival, an annual multicultural event showcasing the state’s musical and artistic heritage, is going virtual this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. The festival, which normally boasts almost 300 performers, has whittled its lineup down to 10 artists who they feel best represent North Carolina’s musical traditions for a virtual concert series. The 2020 lineup will feature Boone locals, The Burnett Sisters Band.
Brought up in the mountains of Watauga County, the Burnett Sisters Band of four sisters was selected by the festival for its representation of traditional Appalachian roots music.
“It had to be an extremely tough decision to go through 300 artist and pick 10. We’re truly in awe, and very, very thankful. We don’t take that lightly at all,” said Kathleen Burnett.
A sampler of all things Appalachia, the Burnett Sisters Band are not limited to one genre, pulling elements of old-time, bluegrass, folk and Americana into their shows. Accompanied by dance numbers and a dash of swing music, their mix of style creates a unique performance, which was developed by years of studying local artists rooted in the region’s musical heritage.
“We stay rooted in where we came from, and we also incorporate dance into our shows, so we cover quite a few bases. Everything that we’ve learned actually came from local artists,” said Burnett.
The N.C. Folk Festival virtual concert series is free to the public and will feature two hours of pre-recorded performances each night. Other performers in the series include artists such as, The Hamiltones, Chatham County Line, Rissi Palmer and Mandolin Orange, with each playing sets that best represent their distinctive style.
“It was very difficult to narrow it down. They wanted a 25-minute show, so we had to choose songs that we felt best represented ourselves,” said Burnett.
Although the band is excited to be featured in this year’s folk festival, performing in the era of COVID-19 has provided its challenges.
“I think the weirdest thing is not having an audience, but to accommodate that you just push more music,” Burnett said.
The North Carolina Folk Festival virtual concert series, featuring the The Burnett Sisters Band, is set to air Sept. 12-13.
For more information about the festival, the digital concert series and showtimes, you can check out their website at www.ncfolkfestival.com.