Rhythm & Roots Festival


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This year we have implemented the Vendini TicketAgent Management System.
We are excited as it is a powerful mobile box office ticketing solution which makes it simple to scan tickets and control access to our event.
The service provides not only Ticketing, but  Patron Management, Marketing, Logistics.
With this change, we now require all media covering/requesting credentials for this year’s Rhythm & Roots Festival  to
The deadline for media application registration is Friday 8/11/17
Not all credential requests will be approved.
Credentials will only be issued for members of the media on assignment.
No guests will be permitted.
You are welcome to add camping for $50.
We will email ticket/instructions by Friday 8/25/17.
Thank you for your patience as we adopt this new system.
We look forward to your continued support and coverage of our festival.

Rhythm & Roots Festival Celebrates 20th Anniversary
Ninigret Park, Charlestown, RI
September 1-3, 2017
Labor Day Weekend

Noon to midnight all three days

Rhythm & Roots Festival Celebrates 20th Anniversary
Three Full Days of Music Set for Labor Day Weekend
More than 10,000 visitors are expected to roll into Ninigret Park in Charlestown, R.I.,
Sept. 1–3 to mark the 20th anniversary of music, dance, food and fun that is the Rhythm & Roots Festival.
crowd by Jake Jacobsen

Rhythm & Roots has become an annual must-do for hundreds of families, music fans and dancers, who enjoy the laid-back vibe and endless variety of authentic roots music in the small, seaside community of Charlestown.

To mark the milestone, the festival will add an extra night of camping Aug. 31 and will open at noon Friday for the first time. Headliners are The Mavericks, Rosanne Cash and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, which has a new CD coming out in June. Fan favorites who played at the first Rhythm & Roots have been invited back for the celebration, including Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys, Natalie MacMaster, Marcia Ball and Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys. In all, the festival will feature 29 performers (so far) on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, including four Grammy winners and five nominees.

The Mavericks

Variety is the spice of Rhythm & Roots. Bands on four stages will perform Zydeco, delta blues, swing, swamp pop, polka, honky tonk, klezmer, Celtic, boogie woogie, Cajun, rockabilly and other musical styles that blend and warp all categories, such as the “Cuban/country/Tex-Mex/alternative/boogie fusion,” of The Mavericks. And then there’s MarchFourth!, a “sonic explosion” of 20 musicians, stilt walkers and acrobats who take the audience on a “joy-inducing, foot-stomping, booty-shaking, soul-stirring journey.”

Rosanne Cash

Producer Chuck Wentworth, who has been in the music festival business for 35 years, said festival-goers have learned to trust his tastes. Fans frequently buy their tickets well before the lineup is announced. He’s particularly proud of bringing music from Canada’s Cape Breton Island and Prince Edward Island to Charlestown, mixing young, little-known musicians with bands that are popular on the festival circuit.

 Wentworth says Ninigret Park can accommodate more fans, but he doesn’t want the festival to get too big and lose its friendly, all-ages identity. “It’s like a family reunion for a lot of people,” he says. Groups of friends and families camp in the same spots every year. Couples meet at Rhythm & Roots, then bring their children years later. This year, a couple plans to marry at the festival.


The bands have a stake in maintaining the Rhythm & Roots vibe too. Bands swap members and learn something from their peers at the workshops held every day in the Roots tent. “They like the atmosphere,” Wentworth says. “They like the ability to play with other bands, discovering a lot of new music and making new connections.”

 Los Texmaniacs

Wentworth started his festival career while working as a supervisor of aquaculture facilities at the University of Rhode Island, where he hosted WRIU’s folk radio show for many years. At one point, he was using his time off in the summer to book bands and handle logistics at 11 festivals from Alabama to California. He and a partner put together the Cajun & Bluegrass Festival in Escoheag and ran it for 17 years.

Rhythm & Roots was born when Wentworth partnered with the founder of upstate New York’s Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival. They found an ideal location at Ninigret Park. A former U.S. Naval Auxiliary landing field, the park is flat and grassy (perfect for camping), easily accessible off Route 1, and able to accommodate a big crowd. For the last 20 years, Wentworth has improved the power infrastructure at the park to provide top-quality sound, while refining and streamlining the thousands of steps it takes to pull off an event that has doubled in size since he began.


In 2015, Wentworth’s Lagniappe Productions took on all aspects of the festival. Now 11 years into retirement, Wentworth and nearly his entire family keep the festival running, including his wife Debbie, three children, and about half of their grandchildren, aged 3-17. His sister and brother-in-law help out, and he also considers the 400+ volunteers part of his extended family. “There are people who’ve been with us since Day One,” Wentworth says.
This huge festival family intends to keep authentic roots music not just alive, but thriving. Wentworth is committed to welcoming children to the festival, encouraging them to do more that just listen, but to try it out too. Kids under 12 get into the festival free, teenagers are half price, and a no-cost Cajun music camp is available to children in the community who want to learn to play fiddle, accordion, guitar, bass and mandolin. No festival ticket is needed for the camp, which ends with a graduation gig in the dance tent Sunday. 

Here is a lineup of music on each stage:

Photo Philip Stewart

Music on the main RHYTHM STAGE is the focal point of the festival. Seven bands each day get to perform on the “big stage” to showcase the variety that encompasses roots music in a concert-style setting. 

The popular DANCE STAGE features a covered, 4,400-square-foot wooden floor that attracts dancers from 38 states and three Canadian provinces. It looks intimidating at first glance, but no matter. Look again and you’ll see accomplished and amateur pairs –young and old, tall and short, serious and carefree – all having a swinging time.
The ROOTS STAGE is an intimate setting where the audience gets to be up close and personal with the artists. This stage will feature at least four workshops each day followed by extended performances and jams from a variety of bands.


The FAMILY STAGE features music, dance, storytelling, crafts and nighttime movies for kids of all ages.

Photo: Suzanne MacDonald

 Although music is the centerpiece of Rhythm & Roots, the food is just as diverse. Choose from barbecue ribs, Cajun/Creole specialties, chowder and clam cakes, gyros, Middle Eastern food and desserts, along with craft beers, wine, frozen lemonade and other beverages. In keeping with the family vibe at Rhythm & Roots, Chili Brothers, a first-year food vendor will return for its 20th year. Chili Brothers is well known to those who attend Wentworth’s other annual event, the Mardis Gras Ball at Rhodes on the Pawtuxet.

Photo: Jake Jacobsen

Craft vendors also sell their handmade gifts at the festival, and a Rhythm & Roots booth will offer T-shirts, sweatshirts and other R&R swag.

Photo by Stan Deutsch

 Camping is popular at Ninigret, with about 1,500 people staying the entire weekend. New this year is “glamping,” an upscale version of camping, and it’s already sold out. Festival attendees will arrive at the camp area to find their tent set up and outfitted with four cots, a lantern, table and other amenities. Make your reservations early next year.

Photo: Philip Stewart

 Ninigret covers more than 200 acres, with plenty of opportunities to hike, swim, fish and observe wildlife and birds. Children enjoy the playground and freshwater pond, bike trail, tennis and basketball courts, and public beach. The Frosty Drew Observatory and Nature Center offer star-gazing and programs on marine and aquatic habitats. In addition, Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge has four miles of hiking trails, excellent views of Ninigret Pond, the largest coastal salt pond in Rhode Island, and 250 species of birds.

Rhythm & Roots supports the Charlestown food bank, known as Rhode Island Center Assisting Those in Need or RICAN, and VSA Arts, which provides opportunities for those with disabilities to participate in the arts. The festival also hopes to build awareness of Rhode Island’s Native American culture by partnering with the Tomaquag Museum.
For tickets and information, go to www.rhythmandroots.com, or call 888-855-6940. Festival hours are: Friday, 12 p.m. to midnight and Saturday/Sunday 12 p.m. to midnight.


The Mavericks, Rosanne Cash, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
Coming to Charlestown

Rhythm & Roots Festival Announces its 20th Anniversary Lineup

The Rhythm & Roots Festival is celebrating its 20th anniversary with an expanded schedule of American roots music that features headliners The Mavericks, Rosanne Cash, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and festival favorites, such as Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys, who have performed every Labor Day weekend since Rhythm & Roots began.
The Mavericks
The festival, to be held at Ninigret Park in Charlestown Sept. 1–3, is opening for the first time at noon Friday to squeeze in more music, food, crafts and dancing. More than 10,000 attendees are expected, some of whom have brought their families to Rhythm & Roots every year.
Along with Riley are musicians who played at the first Rhythm & Roots festival – Natalie MacMaster, Marcia Ball and Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys. Producer Chuck Wentworth says bands enjoy the vibe in Charlestown. “The music fans up here are great. They like and respect all kinds of music.”
From Cajun and zydeco to blues and swing, and everything in between, the festival presents a wide variety of styles that appeal to lovers of authentic roots music, and anyone who wants to have a good time, young or old. “You can dance to just about every band playing this year,” Wentworth says.
Here’s the lineup, with music running from 1 p.m. to midnight every day:
Friday, Sept. 1
The Mavericks, Squirrel Nut Zippers, Shinyribs, Alex Meixner Band, The Revelers, Say Darling, Jeffery Broussard & the Creole Cowboys, Los Texmaniacs, Pine Leaf Boys, The Turtle Duhks
 Saturday, Sept. 2
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, MarchFourth!, Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys, Knickerbocker All Stars with special guests TBA, Marcia Ball, Horace Trahan and the Ossun Playboys, Ten Strings And A Goatskin, Shinyribs, Alex Meixner Band, Pine Leaf Boys, Los Texmaniacs, Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys, Sarah Potenza and Ian Crossman, The Revelers, Jeffery Broussard & the Creole Cowboys, The Turtle Duhks, Courtney Granger & Friends
Sunday, Sept. 3
Rosanne Cash, Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy, The New Orleans Suspects, with Paul Barrere and Fred Tackett of Little Feat, Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys, The Revelers, Los Texmaniacs, Alex Meixner Band, Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys, Horace Trahan and the Ossun Express, Gospel with Sarah Potenza, Christine Ohlman, The Turtle Duhks, Courtney Granger & Friends
 Los Texmaniacs
Artists in Residence (Friday – Sunday):
David Greely, Johnny Nicholas, Ed Poullard and Preston Frank, Hot Tamale Brass Band, Magnolia, Li’l Anne & Hot Cayenne
The Rhythm & Roots Festival at Ninigret offers an extra night of tent camping this year on Aug. 31, or “glamping” for those who want the cushy convenience of having their tents set up ahead of time. The festival also offers great grub for all tastes, with Cajun/Creole specialties, lobster rolls and fresh oysters, BBQ ribs and chicken, Greek and Middle Eastern foods, as well as craft beers, wine, assorted beverages and desserts.
Rhythm & Roots has been called “an incredible experience, a perfectly organized, flawlessly run major destination event that music fans from all over the country will be drawn to.” We’re sure you’ll agree, whether you’re coming for the first time or returning for the 20th.
For tickets and information, go to www.rhythmandroots.com, or call 888-855-6940.