Over the past few years, the North Carolina State Fair has adjusted its music programming after mismanaged booking translated to poor attendance and the loss of over $900,0000 (who, in this decade, really cares about seeing Vanilla Ice, who performed at the 2014 fair?). Happily, that reorganization translated to strong, compelling bookings over the past two yearslast year alone featured indie rock titans Superchunk, hardcore heavyweights Corrosion of Conformity, and funk pioneer Maceo Parker.
By comparison, the big headliners for this year’s fair feel like a bit of a backslide toward the mediocre fare of yore. This year’s Dorton Arena lineup features the Eagles tribute band On the Border, the bland country-rock of North Carolina’s Parmalee, and Marcy Playground, whose hit single “Sex and Candy” you may remember from the year 1997.
On the lest lackluster end is a reunited Dillon Fence, the Chapel Hill band that tore up the town in the late eighties and early nineties with its particular, punchy strain of rock. Slightly younger nostalgia seekers will appreciate the return of the regional cult favorite Jump, Little Children. You’ll also have a chance to see Ronnie Milsap, the native North Carolinian and country music star whose career is well into its sixth decade.
And plenty of excellent artists are taking to smaller outdoor stages during the day. G Yamazawa, Zoocrü, and ZenSoFly lead a hip-hop charge, and local go-go outfit Project 919 ought to be a blast. Bruxes shows up with shimmery, intimate rock, Big Ron Hunter brings the blues, and Greensboro duo The Bronzed Chorus will get nice and loud late one Saturday afternoon, to name but a few more. You can check out the full lineup and schedule of the Homegrown Music Fest series at ncstatefair.org.