Here's one way to navigate the annual Richmond Folk Festival: Show up solo. Wait till you see someone you know in the crowd (you will — it's Richmond). Follow your friend to the nearest tent. Stay and listen.
That's how I discovered Cajun explosion Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys at last year's festival, and bluesman Lil' Ed and the Imperials the year before that. Both were ridiculously fun performances that left listeners in a lather. I just stumbled in and started dancing.
Another way to explore? Pick one of the following journeys. The variety of music at the Folk Festival is overwhelming — not to mention the films, workshops, dance lessons and activities. And so we present four possible approaches, whether you're looking for something offbeat, global, traditional — or perhaps something guaranteed to get you dancing.
The best part is, you can't take a wrong turn; feel free to mix up kosher gospel with Virginia bluegrass and a dash of hula. Whatever your musical tastes, you won't want to miss the three headliners: roots singer Rosanne Cash, jazzman Fred Wesley and mountain legend Ralph Stanley.
Oh, and this bears repeating: Drop a few bucks in the bucket, people. Don't let Richmond's best annual music festival slip away. — Melissa Scott Sinclair