Rock & Roll Hall of Famer James Burton is honorary chair of Folk Festival


By Dr. Shane Rasmussen, chair of the Louisiana Folklife Center


NATCHITOCHES – Rock & Roll Hall of Famer and former Elvis Presley guitarist James Burton will serve as Honorary Chair of the 39th Annual Natchitoches-NSU Folk Festival which will be held on July 20-21 in Prather Coliseum on the Northwestern State University campus.


In addition to serving as chair, Burton will be inducted into the Louisiana Folklife Center Hall of Master Folk Artists and will make several appearances at the Festival.


Burton will appear at the welcome ceremony at 12:15 p.m. Saturday, July 21, at which time he and his fellow members of the 2018 Louisiana Folklife Hall of Master Folk Artists class will be inducted. Inductees include Burton’s fellow band mate in Elvis Presley’s band Estelle Brown of the Sweet Inspirations, local musician/promoter/philanthropist Rodney Harrington, folk artist Clementine Hunter, musician and craftsman Hilton Lytle, rockabilly musician Jim Oertling, and Elvis Presley’s original drummer D.J. Fontana.


Burton will next appear along with Brown in a session entitled “Memories of the King” from 2:30-3:15 p.m., during which Burton and Brown will discuss their legendary careers and particularly their time spent travelling and recording with Elvis Presley.  Harrington will act as moderator of this session.


From 6:30-7:15 p.m., Burton, who was named by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the top 100 guitarists in Rock & Roll history, and is widely known as “the Master of the Telecaster,” will conduct a guitar question and answer session.


That evening, Burton will appear along with Estelle Brown and Grammy winner and master Cajun folk artist Jo-El Sonnier, as guests of Johnny Earthquake and The Moondogs in the Festival’s grand finale concert.  The concert will include a tribute to Elvis Presley featuring a recreation of the King’s Vegas-style show.


The Natchitoches-NSU Folk Festival will be held in air-conditioned Prather Coliseum, 220 South Jefferson Street on the NSU campus in Natchitoches.  The Festival will be held Friday, July 20 from 4:30-10:15 p.m., and all day on Saturday, July 21 from 8 a.m.-10:00 p.m.  The family-oriented festival is wheelchair accessible.  Children 12 and under are admitted free of charge.  For a full schedule of events, to purchase tickets or for more information call (318) 357-4332, send an email to, or go to


Support for the Louisiana Fiddle Championship and the Festival is provided by grants from the Cane River National Heritage Area, Inc., City Bank, the City of Natchitoches, Cleco, the Louisiana Division of the Arts Decentralized Arts Fund Program, the Natchitoches Historic District Development Commission, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and Foundation and the Shreveport Regional Arts Council.