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Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, Kan. returns for 49th year

The popular Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, Kan. will take place Sept. 15-19 with organizers releasing talent line-up.

This year’s event will be the 49th annual and the public, eager for a return to in-person entertainment, will notice a few changes. The festival continues to draw folk music fans from across the nation and has firmly planted Kansas as the heartbeat of the musical genre.

“Some of the changes are cosmetic,” said Media Director Rex Flottman. “Most of our hires were made in 2019, and a few bands have changed their names in the interim. Missy Raines recently changed her billing to Missy Raines & Allegheny. Helen Avakian & Dave Irwin are now known as Red Door Duo.”

walnutThe festival had a few resources already on hand to fill the sets left empty by a few groups that cannot make it this year. Several additions to the lineup were announced in February 2021, including the addition of the Dillards, a legendary band known to bluegrass aficionados and newcomers alike. A second band, Pretend Friend, was added to this year’s list of performers after winning the festival’s online Battle of the Bands.

Now the festival has announced that several other performers have been added to provide for the right ‘Winfield’ mix.

Rachel Baiman and George Jackson are a multi-instrumentalist old time and Americana duo from Nashville, Tenn. Baiman’s June 2017 album Shame was featured on NPR’s “Songs We Love” and was nominated for Americana Album of the Year in the Independent Music Awards. New Zealand native George Jackson spent years on the Australian festival circuit, and since moving to Nashville has worked with bands including the Missy Raines Trio, Front Country, and Peter Rowan.

Old Sound is a Kansas City-based trio with roots in Winfield, crafting traditional and original acoustic folk music. Led by Grady Keller’s imaginative storytelling, the trio is strengthened by the exploratory bluegrass flat-picking style of Chad Brothers and the playful doghouse groove of Greg Herrenbruck on upright bass, both of whom also take turns fronting the group’s vocals. Brothers and Herrenbruck grew up in Winfield, and all three have made appearances on campground stages at the festival. Old Sound’s initial album “Rain Follows the Plow was joined by “Deluge,” released in 2021.

They will be joined at Winfield by Jo Ann Smith, a three-time Autoharp Champion (1999, 2013 at Winfield, and 2003 at the Mountain Laurel Autoharp Championship). She is known for her expertise with the diatonic autoharp, and her unique, melodic and expressive playing style has won her legions of followers on YouTube with over a million views to date. Finally, three-time National Flatpicking Champion Allen Shadd will return to play at both the Champions Concert (showcasing the previous year’s contest winners) and on stage in a duo with flutist Kristen Holloway.

Ater the death of legendary fiddle player Byron Berline, the Byron Berline Band will be playing as the Byron Berline Band & Legacy Grass. Berline, a gifted musician, was at the very first Walnut Valley Festival in 1972 and many thereafter, and played at various times with several of this year’s performers, including Dan Crary, Steve Spurgin, and the Dillards. Tohonor Byron, the band is planning to invite some special guests to join them in one of their sets.

For additional information about the performers, contests and other festival activities, or to purchase advance tickets, visit www.wvfest.com. Tickets may also be purchased by phone 620-221-3250 or during business hours at the festival office at 918 Main Street, Winfield, Kan. 67156, Monday through Thursday.

–Metro Voice