White Squirrel Festival turns up the volume for Memorial Day weekend

The Mulligan Brothers: Ross Newell, Greg DeLuca, Ben Leininger and Gram Rea.
The Mulligan Brothers: Ross Newell, Greg DeLuca, Ben Leininger and Gram Rea. Photo by Michelle Stancil

With a band line-up that includes hometown stars, past-festival favorites and a few exciting, new musical acts, Brevard’s White Squirrel Festival is amped up to celebrate Memorial Day weekend.

The three-day festival, which runs Friday-Sunday, May 22-24, is named for the town’s signature bushy-tailed critters. It fills downtown Brevard with food vendors, crafts booths, a Memorial Day parade and wreath presentation, kids activities and a street-wide stage for lots of live music. Best of all, admission is free.

John Felty of Mountain Song Productions started the festival more than a decade ago, and has played it as a member of bluergass/rock band Jupiter Coyote. “Every year is the best when you are in it,” he says. “I’m always excited to introduce some new music and new talent to the community in this kind of format.”

Among the this year’s returning artists are Celtic-rocker Scythian, who will headline Saturday. “They are definitely the standard of high energy,” Felty says. “They had Main Street hopping like I’ve never seen before. They pulled everyone in from the first song on.”

Also returning is Americana and indie-folk artist Shannon Whitworth. Her set was rained out last year, but she’ll try again as Sunday evening’s musical entertainment along with a pared-down, two-member version of Blue Dogs from Charleston, S.C., for what Felty describes as a “quieter evening, focused more on the listening experience.”

Sunday’s lineup also includes Saluda-based songwriter Aaron Burdett, folk-rockers Jonathan Byrd and the Pickup Cowboys, and old-time collective Pretty Little Goat.

As for Saturday, the party is on, Felty says. Musical acts will be playing from noon to 11 p.m., featuring Brevard’s resident-rockstar and double Grammy-nominee Jeff Sipe and his trio, Appalachian rockers Big Daddy Love and roots-rock quartet The Mulligan Brothers. “I think they are going to blow up big in no time,” Felty predicts of latter, a group from Mobile, Ala. He describes lead singer Ross Newell as “this amazing amalgamation of Jackson Brown, James Taylor and Amos Lee.”

Friday’s lineup features Amigo at 7 p.m., The Shadowboxers at 8 p.m., and Sol Driven Train at 9:30 p.m..

For more information on Brevard’s White Squirrel Festival, featured artists, directions and schedules, visit www.whitesquirrelfestival.com

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