South Carolina in the Spring is about as beautiful as it gets. Add in some of bluegrass’ best musical acts, the Western Carolina State Fairgrounds, and plenty of activities to do throughout the day, and you have the Aiken Bluegrass Festival. Set to take place May 12th-13th in Aiken, SC, this year’s festival boasts a truly fantastic lineup that includes headlining spots from The Infamous Stringdusters and Fruition, with support from Larry Keel, Billy Strings (who is coming off a 4-night Colorado run with the Paul Hoffman/Anders Beck Quartet), Gipsy Moon, The Herman Clan (featuring Leftover Salmon’s Vince Herman), and many more (purchase tickets here).
Outside of the traditional acts on the lineup, each day will feature a unique superjam with various members featured on the bill. On Friday, Leftover Salmon’s Andy Thorn and Yonder Mountain String Band’s Allie Kral will lead a cast of bluegrass stars that includes Billy Strings and Love Canon’s Jay Starling, as well as their pick of a deep bullpen of numerous fan favorite artists. And prior to that set will be a set dubbed “Guitacolypse Now” with Larry Keel, Vince Herman, Falco, Strings, and Brad Parsons creating one monstrous unified front. Anything goes with this set.
The Saturday ABF superjam will be hosted by Vince Herman, Larry Keel, and Lindsay Lou, and will see a stage full of musicians getting up on stage and picking away. The “Lindsay Lou & The Ladies” set earlier in the day will feature all the ladies of the festival, including Lindsay Lou (& The Flatbellys), Allie Kral (Yonder Mountain String Band), Mimi Naja (Fruition), Jenny Keel (Larry Keel Experience), and Mackenzie Page (Gipsy Moon).
And nothing goes better with bluegrass than some tasty barley-laced ales, which will be provided by New Belgium Brewing Co. If you are looking for some whiskey to go along with your ale, Carolina Moon Distillery will be on site to scratch that itch as well.
The family friendly environment of the Western Carolina State Fairgrounds has plenty to do outside of the music including dozens of unique vendors, multiple carnival rides, and a kid’s tent with activities running throughout the weekend. There will be camping and RV passes available to attendees (to be purchased in additional to festival passes). Daily and weekend passes for Aiken Bluegrass Festival range between $20 – $60 for single or two-day passes.
All proceeds from the Aiken Bluegrass Festival benefit Great Oak Aiken Therapeutic Riding Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping individuals with disabilities improve their quality of life through safe interaction with horses.
Aiken Blugrass Festival Daily Schedule
Friday, May 12th – Gates open at 12:00 PM
Doug and the Henrys – 5:00pm
The Herman Clan – 6:30pm
Guitacolypse Now – 8:00pm
Super Jam 1 – Andy Thorn, Billy Strings, Jay Starling, Allie Kral, Travis Book and More!! – 9:30pm
The Infamous Stringdusters – 11:00pm
Saturday, May 13th – Gates open at 12:00 PM
Gipsy Moon Band – 1:00pm
Brad Parsons Band – Featuring Members of Fruition – 2:30pm
Lindsay Lou & The Ladies – Jenny Keel, Mimi Naja, Allie Kral, Lindsay Lou and Mackenzie Page – 4:00pm
ABF Super Jam 2 – As many artists that can fit on stage – 5:30pm
Larry Keel Experience – 7:00pm
Billy Strings – 9:00pm
Fruition – 11:00pm
[cover photo courtesy of Dave Vann]