The Kerrville Folk Festival: The Path to Kerr-version
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This thesis explores the history of the Kerrville Folk Festival and explains how it has become a unique institution embedded within Texas history and culture. The main purpose of this thesis is to examine the origins, evolution, and current state of the Kerrville Folk Festival, as well as its long-term impact on musicians, audiences, and the national music scene. For nearly four decades, an extraordinary collection of singer-songwriters has played the main stage and campgrounds, drawing international acclaim to the festival as a place where singer-songwriters can thrive in a genuine and “organic” atmosphere. The festival’s history has been a long and often difficult one, but through the support and dedication of loyal festival-goers, bonds have been formed that created the foundation for the festival’s unique ambiance. This sense of community, along with the festival’s so-called “Kerr-culture,” draw attendees and musicians back every year. The Kerrville Folk Festival is a unique and enduring institution which deserves recognition for the impact it has had on shaping the national music scene for nearly forty years. My hope is that this study will provide the first academic analysis of this topic, and will allow festival-goers, volunteers, musicians, staff, and even those who have never attended, a chance to better understand the festival, its colorful history, and its importance to the overall musical heritage of the state and nation.