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Kent State Folk Festival

The 45th annual Kent State Folk Festival kicks off tonight with a performance by the Carolina Chocolate Drops and will wrap up Sunday with a concert by Peter Yarrow, of the legendary folk group Peter, Paul and Mary. The real fun will be Friday's Folk Alley 'Round Town, with free performances by a variety of musical acts around downtown Kent, Ohio, and the free community workshops Saturday at the KSU Student Center.

The 'Round Town and workshops will provide a number of opportunities for enthusiasts of old-time music and the banjo to watch, listen, and play.

On Friday, you can participate in the Kent Shindig old-time jam from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Europe Gyro. This is the group your host regularly jams with every first Sunday of the month. They're a welcoming group, so don't be shy. From 7 to 9 p.m., you can swing over to Woodsy's Music to catch Brady's Run, a local string band that includes Lynn Frederick and Sue Goehring. Also of interest are the Mayfields and Hey Mavis, not to mention all the local blues, rock, and indie acts.

At Saturday's workshops, you can attend an open banjo lesson, workshops on banjo styles, the difference between old-time and bluegrass, clogging, Civil War songs, and participate in a contradance, to name a few highlights. Legendary Cleveland banjo wizard Mark Olitsky will be among the workshop leaders. Also throughout the day, attendees will gather to jam at different locations around the Student Center, so you'll have plenty of opportunities to grab your instrument and make a few friends.

This year's festival is two months earlier than in past years, which is a bummer for people interested in running the Akron Marathon this Saturday. Sadly, yours truly will be unable to attend Friday and Saturday's festivities. If any readers attend, report back with how this year's festival turned out.

***UPDATE 9/21/11 3:21 P.M.: Check out a couple of interviews with the Carolina Chocolate Drops:

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