History Want to perform in Acoustic Kids? Start here →
What We’re About:
- Mentoring young musicians
- Providing a positive performance experience in a professional setting
- Recognizing achievement
- Entertaining festival audiences
- Building community
“Andy has a remarkable ability to make kids feel welcomed and valued as a person and (a) musical contributor…. I’m so glad Acoustic Kids has stayed involved in the community, because not only does it give all these kids good memories, but as the kids grow up they’ll remember that their contribution is important.” – Sara Watkins, multi-year participant with Nickel Creek in the Walnut Valley Festival Acoustic Kids Showcases
What We Do:
Click a title to expand section.
Work with festivals to give young musicians in their audiences opportunities to play on official festival stages
Acoustic Kids is a festival-based program that has become a tradition at some iconic music festivals: It has been a part of the Walnut Valley Festival (Winfield, KS) since 1991, MerleFest (Wilkesboro, NC) since 2001, and Guitar Town (Copper Mountain, CO) since 2015. These festivals strive to support the next generation of musicians, and Acoustic Kids helps them fulfill that mission. Andy and his wife, Lauren, work closely with festival staff to customize the program to reflect each festival’s personality, and they handle all the showcase organization.
Organize everything before the festival starts
Acknowledge young musicians’ achievements, whatever their skill level
We welcome young musicians of all skill levels, beginner to pro. We acknowledge the dedication it took to learn all that they have so far learned and applaud their courage in getting up on stage and sharing it. We love to watch beginners grow from year to year and more advanced players take off and soar.
Structure our showcases to allow all participants to shine
Andy carefully plans all Acoustic Kids Showcases so that no one is upstaged by the act that was on before them. We use our online registration process to help achieve this. Well before the festival, we know who will be playing what and what the performance order will be. Participants know what they will be playing and have time to polish their performance.
Foster growth, community, and professionalism
- Beginning musicians meet and are inspired by more advanced young players
- Everyone does their part to pull off the show, including dealing with festival realities (weather, tight schedules, distractions, etc.)
- Many, if not most, participants come back year after year with the goal of improving over last year
- Audience members come back year after year to see – and applaud – what the kids have achieved since last year
[Acoustic Kids] Showcases have inspired in me the confidence that comes from playing in front of thousands of people and having a successful experience. I can’t overstate how grateful …I am! Andy and Lauren run an extremely tight ship without taking any of the fun out of it.” – Liam Purcell, founding member of Cane Mill Road and multi-year Acoustic Kids participant and Ambassador at MerleFest
What We Aren’t:
- A competition
- An open mic event
- A traveling show
- A band
- A club
- A jam
- Instrument instruction
You never know who you’ll hear for the first time in Acoustic Kids….