Folk superstar Dar Williams will be the opening act for the 2013 Great River Folk Festival running from Aug. 23-35.


Williams will perform at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the Cartwright Center on the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse campus. The rest of the fest is out under the sun and the stars on the UWL campus.


The Saturday evening concert includes award-winning Midwestern troubadour Barbara Jean, swingin’ gypsy jazz from Harmonious Wail, Twin Cities alt bluegrass up-and-comers The May North, the four sisters band SHEL and Wisconsin’s favorite son, Willy Porter.


Sunday’s music includes the finals of the fifth annual Songwriting and Performance Contest. The winner will open the farewell concert, featuring the Ultrasonics and Claudia Schmidt.

New this year are overlapping sessions at two sites feature music round-robins, with a third site for jams and dedicated workshops.


The event also includes a juried crafts fair, including pottery, fabric arts, jewelry, baskets, glassware, wood work and more. Comic Juggler Paul Halter returns to the children's area. Traditional and ethnic selections and desserts will be available all day in the food tent.

Williams has toured with artists such as Mary Chapin Carpenter, Patty Griffin, Ani DiFranco, The Nields, Shawn Colvin, Girlyman, Joan Baez and Catie Curtis. She released Time of the Gods, her ninth studio album, in 2012.


Raised in Chappaqua, N.Y., and educated at Wesleyan University, Williams spent 10 years living in the artistic community of Northampton, Mass., where she began to make the rounds on the coffeehouse circuit. Baez, an early fan of her music, took Williams out on the road and recorded several of her songs.


In 1995, two years after self-releasing The Honesty Room, Williams signed with Razor & Tie Entertainment, beginning a relationship now in its 16th year.


Williams also published a directory of natural food stores and restaurants called The Tofu Tollbooth in 1994 and co-authored a second edition with Elizabeth Zipern four years later. She said she was inspired to do the book because she had difficulty finding natural food stores and restaurants while on the road.