The 16th annual Culturefest will take place Sept. 5-8, 2019!

2019 Performers

Jonathan Scales Fourchestra

Jonathan Scales is one of the most innovative steel pannists on the planet, and is redefining and challenging traditional expectations of his signature instrument. In his hands, the sonic palette of  an instrument often associated with cruise ships and tropical resorts is radically expanded to mimic the role of horns, piano, vibraphone or marimba due to his stunning, virtuosic technique. Scales’ mesmerizing compositions have captivated listeners and elevated him to the status of a true composer, forging new territory in the medium of instrumental music. Although Scales’ writing produces songs that are ultimately accessible and danceable, the compositions can be remarkably complex and difficult to perform. As a result, the power trio whimsically named Jonathan Scales Fourchestra has always had a fluid lineup top-notch musicians, and even included an “all-star” version with bassist MonoNeon (Prince, Ghost Note), drummer Robert “Sput” Searight (Snarky Puppy, Snoop Dogg) and percussionist Weedie Braimah (Trombone Shorty, Nth Power), as well as a number of other talented marquee value players. Throughout these changes, Scales has demonstrated remarkable perseverance and persistence, a topic that he presented in a TED Talk, while continuing to write and develop his craft and touring the North American and European club and festival circuit—as well as dates in Japan, Central America and The Caribbean. Scales also represented the United States through the Department of State as a musical ambassador in a four week concert tour of China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Indonesia in early 2017, an honor for which he was chosen from among three hundred finalists.

Chupacabras, hailing out of Roanoke, VA, is a 7 piece horn-driven percussive assault that has been making waves in the mid-Atlantic with their potent mix of afro-liscious, surf exotica funk! With an exhaustive promotional engine and the goods to back it up, Chupacabras features Kris  Hodges (Founder of Floydfest World Music & Arts Festival) on Drums Jeff Hofmann on Bass, Justin Pinckney on Saxophone, Patrick Cavanagh on Trumpet, Brach Rauchle on Bari, Erich Woodrum on Djembe / Percussion and Pete Medina on Congas & Percussion. As one of 12 artists across VA and DC to become a 2019 Rockn' to Lockn' contestant, Chupacabras is one of Virginia’s premier up and coming bands with a strong following in the area. Performance highlights include Floydfest WILD 2018, LUNGS Festival - NYC 2018, Hoopla Music Festival BrewsterWalk Music & Brew Festival Down By Downtown, Blue Ridge Marathon 2018.


Benny Bettane is an Australian handpan player, composer and multi-instrumentalist. He is an international solo performer based in Italy, with performances spanning throughout Europe and North America. Benny is a pioneer of handpan composition and performance. He explores the creative bounds of his instrument through new fusion collaborations with musicians in multiple genres, including world music, jazz, funk, electronic music, and rap. Benny is additionally a sound-healer. His collaborations with yogis and spiritual teachers worldwide have earned him a reputation as a handpan musician with a healing gift.

Africa Unplugged is a dynamic group, led by djembe master, guitarist and songwriter, Atiba Rorie. The band uses traditional percussion instruments from West Africa in combination with  guitars and bass to play traditional rhythms while drawing from influences across the world. Their creativity results in a funky, soulful blues and dance music that keeps you moving as they tell stories from the old world and the new!



Option 22 - This infectious, eclectic Americana groove is led by powerful, yet blissfully soothing female vocals dancing atop instruments from around the world including banjo, guitars, didgeridoo, shamisen, and a variety of drums. Positive lyrics inspire unity and call for change.  Based in Princeton, WV, Lori McKinney (vocals, drums, poetry) and Robert Blankenship (guitar, banjo, hand-drums, didgeridoo) have been writing and playing music together since early 2004. Her passionate and angelic vocals married his smooth, steady groove. Now infusing the mix are the funky, hard hitting bass lines of Kayla Lynn McKinney (bass) the soulful, seasoned guitar stylings of James Hart (lead guitar) and the rock solid, hard hitting rhythms of Ary'an Graham. They understand the power of music to heal and transform, and they use their creative gifts to make a positive impact on the world around them. They live and work within a multi-purpose creative zone which they created in downtown Princeton, WV called The RiffRaff Arts Collective, which is revitalizing a once dark and depressed area with color and life. They write, perform, teach and record there as well as host music nights, drum circles, art parades and more.  They also founded and run this festival.

The Charleston Rougues are a 8-piece Pogues cover band with their own Appalachian flair! Based in Charleston, WV, playing the songs of The Pogues, along with traditional Irish reels & jigs, a few country songs & a few originals, they have become known for their camaraderie and their high-energy, fun shows, offering a little something different to the Charleston area, which has a history of Scotch-Irish immigrants who settled in Appalachia.





April B. & The Cool is a soulful concoction with a hard hitting lineup fronted by multi-instrumentalist April Bennett of Asheville, NC and often features members of the area's coolest bands including Yo Mama's Big Fat Booty Band, LOZ, and The Marcus King Band. You can expect some of the most shining, silk-smooth, soul- stirring vocals you'll ever have the pleasure of hearing, paired with super hip and wonderfully dynamic musical arrangements. "Expressive vocals and impressive guitar work are just part of what makes April B. & the Cool special. Drawing from hip-hop, soul, rhythm and blues, funk, rock, soul, jazz and reggae, April Bennett puts it all together in sultry and alluring fashion. The band features players familiar to Asheville audiences — members of The Marcus King Band, Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band often turn up — but Bennett is the undisputed star  of the show." - Bill Kopp, Mountain Xpress “April B. & The Cool is a soulful concoction of heavy and light and rock and funk and jazz and folk and everything in between. We mean hypnotic; we mean casting a spell over an audience that will leave them on their feet cheering or stunned into rapturous silence. We mean “cool,” like April B. and her kickass band.” - Vincent Harris, Greenville Journal


Infinite Third

St. Petersburg, FL-based Billy Mays III chose his moniker, Infinite Third, to represent an inner duality. ‘Infinite’ being the part that’s connected to greater consciousness. ‘Third’ representing the human element. It follows that his endless layers of ethereal guitar, primal beats, and pulsing drones act as conduit for something greater than the sum of their parts. Songs are often improvised journeys through undefined scales, structured and concise, but with room for random moments of openness – the perfect gateway into experimental music. Infinite Third’s debut album, Gently, was released in December of 2009 after a year of tragic events. In February of that year, Mays survived a near fatal apartment fire that engulfed everything he owned, including his recording studio. Picking up the pieces, he cobbled together a minimal guitar-based setup that informed his new approach to creating music. But before he could catch his breath, his father, well-known TV personality Billy Mays, passed away unexpectedly. When he finally began recording again, it was under the banner of Infinite Third, and was more vulnerable than ever. Since then 12 hours-worth of LP’s, EP’s and song sketches have been released via the artist collective Remember You Are Dreaming. It’s a fitting home for Mays, whose music has had a considerable impact on artists of different mediums, from visual artists to filmmakers, serving as a sonic inspiration for their own creative process. He’s implemented exploratory streaming live sessions and performances in non-traditional venues with his Ambient Installation Series, attracting local champions in the press world. Tampa Bay Times ran an in-depth profile and he was bestowed two “Best of the Bay” awards from Creative Loading’s reader’s poll - Best Local Experimental Act and Best Local Instrumentalist. Mays’ interactive looping project Mouth Council was also chosen by Shure Microphones for an international marketing campaign.

Natural Born Leaders is an independent band based out of Asheville NC. Their music is fueled by creative and abstract thought. The lyrics are real, heart felt, and driven by the elements of love and fear stitched together with catchy hooks. The rhythm section is hard hitting & funky; their influence ranges from The Fugees to Black Sabbath and their music displays links to everything from jazz to blues, to Afro-Latin and jam music. NBL is performing and touring at everything from dimly lit dive bars, to bustling urban street festivals, all the way up to world class music venues. Their debut studio album ‘About time’ a four song EP is available for purchase and stream across all major streaming outlets. With a uniquely powerful, thought provoking, and lively stage show NBL is a musical burst of soul that will make your soul hungry for more and your feet aching from dancing.