No, July is not the optimal time for an outdoor music festival in central North Carolina. But if you head toward the coast or the mountains, there are several diverse opportunities this month.
That is after the Festival for the Eno in Durham, which starts July 4 and continues July 7.
This year’s split celebration, which benefits the preservation of the Eno River, promises more than 70 bands on five stages throughout the Durham’s West Point on the Eno Park on Roxboro Road.
Performers include The Bowerbirds, Cheik Hamala Diabate, John Dee Holeman, and Chatham Rabbits on Wednesday, and Lucy Dacus, Ruby Velle and The Soulphonics, Lonnie Holley, and Ladies Gun Club on Saturday. The Bowerbirds' performance is their first live show in six years.
The festival is also home to more than 80 juried artisans, earth-friendly product and service vendors and nonprofit groups, and about 20 food and drink vendors, including a beer garden. The family-oriented event also has several demonstrations and participatory activities related to arts, sustainability and outdoor recreation, including kayaking.
Because of the festival’s popularity and limited parking onsite for bicycles and the disabled, use of free parking and shuttle buses at nearby Durham County Memorial Stadium on Duke Street is encouraged. Shuttles start at 9:30 a.m. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Single-day tickets $23, two-day passes $35. Info: enofest.org or 919-620-9099, ext. 207
Elsewhere in North Carolina
▪ An Appalachian Summer Festival in Boone is a multi- and inter-disciplinary arts festival presenting programs in music, theater, dance, film and visual arts from July 1 to Aug. 4. The music schedule includes Kool & the Gang on July 7; I’m With Her (Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz, Aoife O’Donovan) July 12; pianist Michael Feinstein and vocalist Storm Large July 14; New York jazz band the Hot Sardines July 21; Rhiannon Giddens July 26; Kristin Chenoweth Aug. 4 and more. Venues, costs and times vary. Info: appsummer.org.
▪ The ninth annual Ocean City Jazz Festival in North Topsail Beach July 7-8 will present contemporary jazz from three acts each evening, including The Skip Walker Band featuring Kia Walker, Derrick Gardner with the John Brown Quintet and Julian Vaughn. The stage and seating are under a pavilion tent, and food trucks will sell food, beer, wine and other beverages. There is also a silent auction. 5 p.m. Daily tickets $50, two-day pass $95. Info: oceancityjazzfest.com.
▪ The second Downeast Music Festival, at Bishop Stadium in the Rocky Mount Sports Complex July 13-14, features 17 Southern soul and hip-hop acts, including Karyn Wolfe, J-Wonn and Black Diamond at an indoor event Friday, and Sunshine Anderson, Big Pokey, Omar Cunningham and nine more outdoors Saturday. 5 p.m. nightly. Saturday $40, two-day pass $75; eight-person VIP packages $1,000 Saturday, $1,200 Friday and Saturday. Info: downeastmusicfestival.com.
▪ The Hillbilly Jam in Maggie Valley July 27-28 features 12 mostly country and Southern rock bands, including Ryan Perry Band, Joe Lasher Jr., Ali Randolph and the Outta Luck Band, and Latraia Savage. It also has a car and motorcycle show, craft and food vendors, cornhole games, and appearances by stars of the “Moonshiners” reality TV show. It’s 10 a.m.-10 p.m. daily at Maggie Valley Festival Grounds. $10 per day, ages 10 and younger free. Info: thehillbillyjam.com.