The man who created the Kerrville Folk Festival, the huge and long-running celebration of songwriters, died in hospice care yesterday, according to a report published today in the San Antonio Express-News.
Rod Kennedy was 84.
“His vision, steadfastness, and indomitable spirit saw the festival through many hard, rainy times, and created a community of songwriters and music lovers alike in an almost surreal atmosphere,” David Card, owner of Poor David’s Pub in Dallas, said in an email statement.
Kennedy started producing the festival in 1972 as a weekend event featuring pickers from Austin’s Outlaw scene. Over the years it stretched into an 18-day spiritual gathering of music lovers camping out at Quiet Valley Ranch and immersing themselves in songwriting and performing.
Instead of “Rod” Kennedy, some artists referred to him as “God” Kennedy. He established the “New Folk” contest early on, and a songwriter who happened to win the top prize could almost be guaranteed of gainful employment at clubs across the country.
New Folk winners over the years included Steve Earle, Robert Earl Keen, and James McMurtry, and Lyle Lovett.