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Routes to Revelry

Four musical maps to guide you through the 2012 Richmond Folk Festival. Plus, three must-hear performers.

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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

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Three Acts to Catch

Ralph Stanley
An American Picker and Bluegrass Founding Father.

Rosanne Cash
The First Lady of Roots comes to Richmond.

Fred Wesley
Soul Sideman No. 1 rolls with the punches.

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Choose Your Own Folk-Venture

The Less-Taken Path
Four unusual finds you may never again get to hear in Richmond.

The Global Trail
Let African, Caribbean and Latin beats carry you far away from here.

The American Way
Old traditions are lifted by new voices.

The Dancing-Shoes Road
These high-energy musical acts are guaranteed to get people out of their seats.

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