By ERIN COX
After a long and sleepless weekend Sept 18-20, folk musician Alex Culbreth returned home to Fredericksburg after attending the fourth annual Sharps Sessions in Warsaw, Virginia. The festival, which took place over three days, was entirely free and featured 25 local bands falling into genres such as metal, folk, reggae and punk. This wide variety of music prompted Culbreth to describe the atmosphere as “definitely more eclectic than any other festival I’ve been to.”
Culbreth, who had never attended the Sharps Sessions before, was contacted to play without pay in front of attendees who camped out, joined the musicians, and in some cases, took advantage of the opportunity to showcase their talent with open-mic sessions.
The Sharps Sessions, as well as many other festivals which occur every summer, have their roots in the renowned 1960’s peace movements. As interest in folk music has increased, especially among college-aged students, festivals have also become more and more popular.
Culbreth’s primary genre, folk music, experienced its peak in the folk revival of the early ‘60s, spawning from the increasing number of protests against war efforts and the civil right’s movement. A second folk revival can be witnessed all over UMW’s campus, with various student troubadours, such as Charlie Devine and Steve Okun—who both occasionally play with Culbreth—showing off their latest tunes on the bricks in between classes.
A senior at UMW, Culbreth is currently working on his fifth album and can be seen playing at local venues such as the Griffin and the Colonial Tavern. His influences include Ryan Adams, The Drive-by Truckers, Steve Earle, The Clash and of course, Bob Dylan.
Joe Issacs of “Music Matters,” a charity musical venue in Maryland, has described Culbreth’s music as “beautiful, with incredible tunings” and “full of intelligence, historical references and beautiful poetry.”
Taking on deep issues, Culbreth connect with listeners through his music, creating a special connection between artist and listener. His lyrics have been known to discuss sex, relationships, politics and heaven and hell, while his voice and musical talent continue to exceed expectations and musical talent continue to propel him in the right directions as his career progresses.
Visit Culbreth’s myspace page, www.myspace.com/alexculbreth, for a sample of some of his songs including the infamous “By and By” and the controversial “God’s Country.” Also featured on his site is a complete list of the concerts he is scheduled to play. If you missed him at Sharps Sessions, he’s playing Oct. 24 at the University Café on Williams Street.