The NorFOLK Festival is a not-for-profit roots music festival in Norfolk, Virginia that is free and open to the public. Hampton Roads-based string band Brackish Water Jamboree created the NorFOLK Festival in 2016 for three reasons:
Help foster and facilitate the community of roots music and its fans within Hampton Roads
Recognize and celebrate local and regional roots music performers
Bring national roots music talent to the area
Roots music is always found at the crossroads of music and culture - at the melting pots. The crossroads of Scots-Irish Appalachian settlers (fiddles and guitars) and African Americans (the African-native banjo) resulted old-time music, with one of its many branches being bluegrass. The crossroads of bluegrass, ragtime, blues, and many other southern and western folk genres, led to country music. It's inherent in its very name: roots music - music that germinated and led to a new sound.
You could certainly make the case that "roots" is more of an adjective than a genre, but colloquially, "roots" music in today's American musical landscape more generally refers to music of a bygone era. It's a bit of an umbrella term referring to music that is ingrained with the style and instruments of an earlier, perhaps simpler time. It's a catchall that might refer to bands playing folk, Americana, honky-tonk - the list goes on. You might see more mandolins than electric guitars, and probably a few more banjos than drum sets. But, we're not here to define what roots music is or what roots music is not - just to give a bit of an "on average" stage setting.
Why Norfolk Folk Festival?
Why not, say, Norfolk Roots Festival? Folk means people. Every aspect of this festival is for the people. We can attest firsthand to the amazing musicians in Tidewater and throughout Virginia, and to the high quality friendships and fellowship that come from knowing them . We aim to further bring the community together around this music so people will make memories, forge friendships, and hopefully discover new passions in bands they otherwise wouldn't have heard of, or an instrument they otherwise wouldn't have been motivated to learn ( we'd also be lying if we didn't mention that the wonderful pun of "NorFOLK" didn't play a role in the naming...). Also, because this festival is for the people, admission is completely free.
Hampton Roads isn't a big contender for many nationally touring roots music acts. The major corridors don't go through the area, and acts don't always make the trip all the way to our coastal corner. There are certainly some very talented national roots music acts coming to Hampton Roads, but not with the same frequency as to Richmond, Raleigh, or D.C. We'd like to create another reason to bring national talent to the area, and hopefully increase demand in and overall awareness of Hampton Roads as a tour stop for future acts.
Brackish Water Jamboree
"What do a bunch of beach boys (and gal) know about hillbilly music? Brackish Water Jamboree named their roots-music free-for-all after the swampy confluence from which they hail: Tidewater, Virginia. But in just over two years since their formation, they've experienced some success extending beyond their hometown. They've shared the bill with roots-greats such as Dom Flemons, Hackensaw Boys, The Steel Wheels, and The Honey Dewdrops; their single 'Home' was featured on the cult-revered Americana music website No Depression; and their full-length self-titled debut album (co-produced by Mark Padgett) reached the top 40 of iTunes' "New Country Music" chart the month of its release (February 2016).
American roots music in-part stemmed from Celtic folk music, and Brackish Water Jamboree is no different; the band formed when the drummer of a prominent Celtic folk-rock band left the group and literally traded in his drum set at the music store for a banjo to begin testing the waters of writing and singing old-time music. After a few years, featuring dobro, fiddle, clawhammer banjo, upright bass, and even a washboard, the band performs all original music (and a few staple standards) that echo classic country, upbeat Appalachian fiddle tunes, ragtime blues, the Bakersfield sound, and more. "
"[O]ne of the most entertaining bands around!" - Peter Pittman, Owner of Iconic VA Roots Venue: The Hampton Taphouse
“Brackish Water Jamboree is an eclectic mix of foot-stomping bluegrass, old-time folk and classic Americana pulled together with a high-energy performance and one extraordinary stage presence. Brackish Water Jamboree is a band that will bring down the house and bring the audience to their feet time and time again.”
- Brenda Barkley, Talent Buyer, Tidewater Friends of Folk
" [T]hese fellas know how to entertain a crowd!"
- Charlie Grant, Executive Director, Henricus Historical Park