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Glimpses of Rhythm and Roots


Photos Courtesy of Rick Farrell

September, 05, 2017

The 20th annual Rhythm and Roots Festival electrified its audience with a sensory filled Labor Day weekend at Ninigret Park in Charlestown, RI. In addition to a full array of top-notch music, there was plenty of dancing, storytelling, arts and crafts, family activities, camping, and a wide assortment of artisans and eclectic food trucks. The atmosphere was laid back, yet energetic and filled with positive vibes. Friday and Saturday fueled the feel-good festivities by providing some beautiful weather. Although Sunday began with some heavy rains, it did not deter the festival’s hardcore music loving crowd. By mid afternoon the sun had finally arrived, bringing with it some apropos rainbows to cap off a wonderful weekend of good times and great music.

To see the rest of the pictures from Rhythms and Roots click here 

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Rhythm & Roots Festival


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For artist line up updates see website
Last year we implemented the Vendini TicketAgent Management System and now require all media covering/requesting credentials for this year’s Rhythm & Roots Festival
The deadline for media application registration is August 10, 2018:
Not all credential requests will be approved.
Credentials will only be issued for members of the media on assignment.
Guests of media may buy a ticket here.
You are welcome to add camping for $50.
We look forward to your continued support and coverage of our festival.

Interviews contact: Ginny Shea MIXED MEDIA T: 401.942.8025
21st Annual Rhythm & Roots Festival
Link here to Fun For All Ages/Cajun Music Camp
Link here to Join the Fun
Ninigret Park, Charlestown, RI
August 31, September 1 & 2 2018
Labor Day Weekend
Noon to midnight Fri-Sun

Rhythm & Roots Offers Free Music Lessons
For Children 8-18

R&R Youth Music Camp Culminates with Sunday Performance
CHARLESTOWN, R.I. – A free music camp at the Rhythm & Roots Festival is open to all children 8-18, even if their families are not attending the annual music and dance festival at Ninigret Park over Labor Day Weekend.
Kids can learn to play, sing and perform traditional Cajun music. Classes are offered in fiddle, guitar, accordion, mandolin and bass in the Ninigret Park picnic pavilion outside the ticket gate.
Very little experience is needed. If your child can play “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” on the violin or three chords on the guitar, that’s enough. The R&R Youth Music Camp will culminate in a performance before a crowd of enthusiastic parents and festival fans at 2:00 p.m. Sunday in the popular dance tent. “Les Jeunes Cajuns” and their instructors will play and sing tunes they have learned during the weekend.

As part of the festival commitment to keeping traditional Cajun music alive and thriving in New England, the camp is offered at no cost, and admission to the festival is free for kids 12 and younger. Students 13 years and older who are also attending the festival will need to purchase a ticket, which is half price for teenagers.

Renowned fiddle teacher Pam Weeks directs the camp, assisted by Karen McGrath. The gifted and patient teachers include Pam Weeks and Andy Stewart (fiddle); Jim Joseph and Tim Kness (accordion); Mary Jo Slattery and Mark Wholley (guitar); Michael Pattavina (mandolin) and Bill Olson (bass).

Online registration is open through Aug. 28. Find more information and sign up at http://rhythmandroots.com/fun-for-all-ages/#cajun-music-camp. Early registration is appreciated.

For further information, call 207-576-7296 or email Pam Weeks at:fiddlerpam@gmail.com

Rhythm & Roots Festival Celebrates 21st Anniversary
Ninigret Park, Charlestown, RI
August 31, September 1 & 2, 2018
Labor Day Weekend
Noon to midnight Fri-Sun

Taj Mahal Trio, Steve Earle & The Dukes, Leftover Salmon
Performing in Charlestown Labor Day Weekend

Rhythm & Roots Festival Announces 2018 Lineup

The Taj Mahal Trio, Steve Earle & the Dukes and Leftover Salmon will headline the 21st annual Rhythm & Roots Festival, set for Aug. 31–Sept. 2 at Ninigret Park in Charlestown, R.I.

More than 10,000 attendees are expected at the music, dancing, camping, food and family fun festival, which aims to keep American roots music alive with bands playing from 1 p.m. to midnight each day. Gates open at noon.

Blues legend Taj Mahal, who himself encompasses a half century of American roots music, is performing with bassist Bill Rich and drummer Kester Smith, bandmates he’s been performed with on and off for decades. Taj Mahal, who will be 76 by Rhythm & Roots time, will sing and play any number of instruments – guitar, keyboards, banjo and harmonica among them – to create his well-loved, internationally flavored brand of blues.

Steve Earle & the Dukes will celebrate the 30th anniversary of Copperhead Road, his acclaimed bluegrass-meets-metal album. The band will also pay homage to Earle’s musical roots and his love of “outlaw” country artists Waylan Jennings, Willie Nelson and the like, while performing a mix of folk, rockabilly, blues and honky tonk tunes.

Boulder, Colo.-based Leftover Salmon, which releases its newest album May 4, Something Higher, will play their “poly-ethinic Cajun slamgrass” music that has kept them touring for 25 years. Calling themselves direct descendants of bands like Little Feat, New Grass Revival, Grateful Dead and The Band, their music promises to go off in unexpected, adventurous directions.

With three days of music on four stages, Rhythm & Roots offers everything from Cajun and zydeco to blues and swing, and everything in between, for fans of every age.

Grammy award-winning Western swing band Asleep at the Wheel, sought-after performers who call their music “jazz with a cowboy hat,” will put on a highly danceable show. The bluegrass quartet Hot Rize, reunited after a 24-year hiatus, will play with another quartet, their country cousins Red Knuckles and the Trailblazers. Festival favorite Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys have performed at every Rhythm & Roots since Day One. Other repeat performers – Donna the Buffalo, Los Texmaniacs, Shinyribs, Say Darling, Dustbowl Revival – will join festival newcomers Girls, Guns & Glory, Earle and Coffin and Big Sam’s Funky Nation.

These are just a few of the bands picked by producer Chuck Wentworth, who is known for mixing festival standbys with talented, up-and-coming artists. More artists will be announced. Here’s the lineup so far:

Steve Earle & the Dukes
Friday, Aug. 31
Steve Earle & the Dukes, Los Texmaniacs, Donna the Buffalo, Big Sam’s Funky Nation, C.J. Chenier and the Red Hot Louisiana Band, Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams, Say Darling, Earle and Coffin, Girls, Guns and Glory, Feufollet, Cedryl Ballou & The Zydeco Trendsetters, Session Americana
Saturday, Sept. 1
Asleep At the Wheel, Leftover Salmon, ShinyribsSteve Riley & the Mamou Playboys, Los Texmaniacs, Bonerama, Dustbowl Revival, Donna the Buffalo, Big Sam’s Funky Nation, C.J. Chenier and the Red Hot Louisiana Band, Say Darling, Earle and Coffin, Feufollet, Veronica Lewis, Cedryl Ballou & The Zydeco Trendsetters.
Sunday, Sept. 2
Taj Mahal Trio, Hot Rize featuring Red Knuckles and the Trailblazers, Shinyribs, Los Texmaniacs, Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys, Dustbowl Revival, C.J. Chenier and the Red Hot Louisiana Band, Earle and Coffin, Cedryl Ballou & The Zydeco Trendsetters, Feufollet, Golden Triangle
Artists in Residence (Friday – Sunday) 
David Greely, Johnny Nicholas, Ed Poullard & Preston Frank, Hot Tamale Brass Band, Magnolia, Zydeco HogsFor tickets and information, go to www.rhythmandroots.com, or call 401.783.3926.

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.

Producer Chuck Wentworth, who has been in the music festival business for 36 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. Last year, a couple got married 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.”

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. 

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.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.
Festival hours are: Friday, 12 p.m. to midnight and Saturday/Sunday 12 p.m. to midnight.

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.