It has been a busy summer for Fairfield singer-songwriter Kristen Graves.
On an "epic" summer tour through America's mid-section, she has been making new fans, reconnecting with others and sharing the gift of music with dozens of citizens of the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota.
"By far, this has been my most epic summer, but it has been amazing," Graves said by phone on a recent afternoon as she set out for a show in Missouri.
Earlier this summer, the musician released her latest album, "Slow Down," before embarking on a 35-show national tour, as well as a five-week free guitar camp at the reservation.
Steeped in the folk, pop tradition, Graves, 30, who also plays guitar and piano, recorded the album in her friend and fellow musician Chris Cubeta's Galuminum Foil Studios in Brooklyn, N.Y.
As pleased as she was with the studio work, she said she loves the chance to perform live.
"When I do the recordings, I get to work with such an incredible producer, such great musicians and in such a great space ... but I don't get to see the results of a person listening to (a song) and making that connection," she said.
She said she loves sharing her tales with a live audience.
"My songs are usually quite personal and the stories are quite personal," she said. "They are not always my stories, but they deserve to be heard."
Graves should be back in the state by now, getting ready for her performance at the CT Folk Festival and Green Expo in New Haven's Edgerton Park, which will run all day Saturday, Sept. 8.
This is the first time she has worked with CT Folk, a New Haven-based nonprofit that fosters live traditional and contemporary roots music, as well as environmental stewardship and education.
The day, which features free admission, will include nonstop live music, exhibitors displaying the latest environmentally friendly innovations, family activities (including environmentally- themed workshops for children and adults) and food and refreshment vendors.
In the past, this long-running expo typically stretched over two days, with a music performance Friday night to kick things off. This year, it is only one day, but the entire event is free, said CT Folk's executive director Alice-Anne Harwood.
"We really wanted everyone who wants to come to come," she said, but added that donations would be welcomed.
In addition to Graves, the music lineup also will include performances by Cheryl Wheeler, Pesky J. Nixon, The Sea The Sea (Connecticut's Troubadour Chuck E. Costa and Mira Stanley), String Fingers, Glenn Roth, the Professors of Bluegrass and others.
This year, the local acts were picked after open auditions.
"We discovered some new voices," Harwood said. "We have so many extraordinary artists, and we want to help grow that community."
But the nonprofit organization also brought back some favorites. For instance, the Professors of Bluegrass will make a return appearance.
First formed in the early 1990s by now Yale University Provost Peter Salovey and his fellow psychology professor Kelly Brownell, its lineup has changed over the years, but the music has remained the same.
Salovey, who still plays bass for the group, said he gained his love of folk, Appalachian and bluegrass music while a young college student.
"For me, it is a great hobby," he said. "As a psychology professor and an administrator, I love the idea that every once in a while I get to do something that is a little different and it involves people I really like."
"We've always been well-received," he said. "It's very fun for us."
Last year's winners and this year's finalists of the CT Folk songwriting competition also are expected to perform.
"This really is such a fun day for everyone, and everyone also is learning," Harwood said.
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Edgerton Park, Whitney Avenue at Cliff Street, New Haven. Saturday, Sept. 8, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.. Free. Food for purchase from local vendors. 203-512-7614, www.ctfolk.com.