Rhythm & Roots Festival


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For Immediate Release
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Interviews contact: Ginny Shea MIXED MEDIA T: 401.942.8025
Rhythm & Roots Festival Celebrates 22nd Anniversary
Ninigret Park, Charlestown, RI
August 30 & 31, September 1, 2019
Labor Day Weekend
Noon to midnight Fri-Sun

Rhythm & Roots Festival Headliners Announced!
Tickets On Sale Now

CHARLESTOWN, R.I. –– The 22nd Annual Rhythm & Roots Festival will feature returning fan favorite The Mavericks on Saturday, Aug. 31, acoustic rockers Railroad Earth on Sunday, Sept. 1, and the alt-country band Son Volt on Friday, Aug. 30.

The festival is an annual gumbo of music, dancing, camping, food and fun. It rolls into Ninigret Park in this small, seaside town over Labor Day weekend, drawing thousands of families for the relaxing, friendly vibe and three full days of authentic roots music.

More than two dozen bands will play a spicy mix of music that challenges any attempt at categorization. You’ll find Zydeco, blues, bluegrass and Cajun, but most bands are a combination of these, or a completely distinctive sound that’s all their own. The Mavericks, for one example, are described as a fusion of Cuban, country, Tex-Mex, alternative and boogie. Railroad Earth plays rock music on acoustic instruments and Son Volt’s latest tunes bring together folk, blues and politics. Each band is known for their energetic, powerful and passionate live shows.

It’s this endless variety that is expected to attract more than 5,000 music and dance lovers each day. Gates open at noon, with performances running every day from 1 p.m. to midnight on four stages. Buy tickets at rhythmandroots.com or call 401.783.3926 or 800.901.7173.

Independent producer Chuck Wentworth, whose family runs the festival, scouts the bands and makes the selections. He’s particularly excited about a handful of bands this year:

“New and different” for Rhythm & Roots is the string trio Hot Club Cowtown and Dustbowl Revival, an eight-piece Americana band, Wentworth says. The bands will join up in an homage to The Band’s first two albums, Music from Big Pink and The Band, released 50 years ago.

Peter Rowan and Free Mexican Airforce with Los Texmaniacs is a conglomeration of three bands. “Peter Rowan has a great following,” Wentworth says. “He’s played with Jerry Garcia and David Grisman, and he’s put out albums with Free Mexican Airforce. Los Texmaniacs – who’ve been here before but not in this role – bring an authentic Tex-Mex feel.”

Speaking of the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia, Joe Craven & the Sometimers, self-described as “acid-rockgrass” and “jazz fusion Americana” will put a fresh spin on the Garcia songbook.

Hat Fitz & Cara, who performed at Rhythm & Roots a few years ago, are returning from Australia. The married blues duo has an amazing stage presence, Wentworth says. “They were here once, and people are still talking about it years later.”

Chubby Carrier and the Bayou Swamp Band, a Grammy-winning Zydeco band, is making its debut appearance at Rhythm & Roots. “I heard them in Louisiana in October, and decided we definitely wanted to bring them up here. They’ve got great energy, great song selection and they’re great to dance to.”

Other bands making a first appearance at Rhythm & Roots include Victor Wainwright and the Train, who earned a Grammy nomination for best contemporary blues album, and The Travelin’ McCourys, who won the Grammy for best bluegrass album in 2018. Also check out Nashville-based string band Della Mae, comprised of some of the finest players in bluegrass, Americana and beyond.

Popular returnees are BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet, who haven’t been to the festival in about 10 years. Every other year brings popular Marcia Ball back to the festival, and vocalist Sarah Potenza is back too. The Pine Leaf Boys will entertain with their rockin’ brand of Cajun dance music, and Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys and The Knickerbocker All-Stars also return. Artists-in-residence are fiddler David Greely, blues guitarist Johnny Nicholas, and Creole musicians Ed Poullard on fiddle and Preston Frank on accordion.

The entire production is put together by the Wentworth family’s Lagniappe Productions. Small, family-run independent music festivals are rare, as it’s difficult to compete with huge event companies with equally huge budgets. Wentworth’s wife, Debbie, three children, numerous in-laws and some of his grandchildren pitch in throughout the year and work mightily during the festival, covering everything from finances to standing by as go-fer and responder to last-minute needs.

The festival requires an extended Wentworth family – the 300 or more volunteers to keep it running smoothly and true to its friendly, all-ages vibe that brings families back year after year. Kids under 12 get into the festival free, teenagers are half price, and a no-cost Rhythm & Roots Youth Music Camp is available to children in the community who want to learn to play fiddle, accordion, guitar, bass and mandolin.

One of the four stages, the Family Stage, features music, dance, storytelling, crafts and nighttime movies. The Roots Stage is a small, intimate setting with musicians offering four workshops a day and extended jams. The Dance Stage is 4,400 square feet of dance floor that draws in dancers from around the country. The Rhythm Stage is the place for the headliners, and listeners can lounge on lawn chairs and blankets and take in the scene, enjoy a huge variety of food and drink, or a stroll through the string of artisans selling their homemade crafts.

About 1,500 of the festival attendees will camp the entire weekend at Ninigret Park, which covers 200 acres for swimming, hiking, biking and bird-watching for 250 species that make the park home. A playground, tennis and basketball and public beach are available too. Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge has four miles of hiking trails and excellent views of Ninigret Pond, the largest coastal salt pond in Rhode Island.

Rhythm & Roots supports VSA Arts, which provides opportunities for those with disabilities to participate in the arts, and partners with the Tomaquag Museum in Exeter to build awareness of Rhode Island’s Native American culture.

For information on tickets, camping and glamping, go to www.rhythmandroots.com, or call 401-783-3926. Festival hours are: Friday, Saturday and Sunday 12 p.m. to midnight. Music begins at 1 p.m. each day.

Steve Riley with the Mamou Playboys

Named “Best Cajun Band” at the 2019 Offbeat Magazine Best of the Beat Awards, Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys are back once again by popular demand! It always seems that the four times Grammy-nominated band couldn’t possibly get any better, and yet they keep bringing it stronger and stronger. As one of THE hottest and most accomplished Cajun bands around, Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys are perennial favorites at Rhythm & Roots!
Their stunningly clean and cohesive performance of Cajun French music, incredible vocal harmonies, and amazing musicianship has taken the traditional sound of Southwest Louisiana and infused it with New Cajun dynamism that is always fresh, always enticing, and eminently danceable.
The band’s latest release, 30 Years Live, is due out in late April 2019.
Sarah Potenza
Having just released her second solo album, Road to Rome, Sarah Potenza is back at Rhythm & Roots, to wow us again with her dynamic singing and songwriting and big, brassy personality. A Providence, RI native, Sarah was hailed by Rolling Stone as “a Janis Joplin-Aretha Franklin hybrid with a mic … but a Lucinda Williams-Bonnie Raitt hybrid with a pen… Potenza is to the blues what Adele is to pop: a colossal-voiced singer who merges her old-school influences with a modernistic sound.”
The former front woman of Sarah & the Tall Boys moved with her guitarist husband Ian Crossman to East Nashville to be a part of the booming Americana music scene in Sarah’s own name several years back. This led to a spellbinding blind audition for NBC’s The Voice, which yielded a coveted four-chair turn. These days, Sarah describes herself thus: “I’m relentless badass fatass who will never give up!”
Contest Deadline April 30th
WIN $50 in Rhythm & Roots Swag
All you need to do is buy an advance three-day ticket, with camping or without. You’re planning to come anyway, so buy your ticket by 11:59 p.m. April 30 AND get a chance to win.
Your name will be automatically entered in a drawing for one of five vouchers for $50 in Rhythm & Roots merchandise.
Don’t worry, if you already purchased advance three-day ticket(s) with or without camping, you’ll already entered to win!
Vouchers are valid on 2019 Rhythm & Roots merchandise only, and are not valid for tickets, food, beverages or merchandise sold by artists or vendors. One per household please. Winners will be notified by May 15.
To get every minute’s worth of Rhythm & Roots, staying overnight is a must. The late-night jams, new friends and R&R reunions at the campground extend the fun, but not everyone wants to sacrifice their time to tangled cords, unruly poles and tent stakes that don’t quite do the job.
Sound like you? Try glamping. It’s all of the fun and none of the hassle. Glamping is a mashup of glamour and camping, and while the Rhythm & Roots glamping tents don’t contain flushing toilets and hot showers, they’re roomy and ready for your relaxation. Show up with your clothes, dancing shoes, bedding and a cooler – that’s it.
Sponsorship & Advertising Options at R&R 2019
Don’t miss out on our sponsorship and advertising opportunities. Last year, Rhythm & Roots attracted more than 10,000 fans from 38 states and six Canadian provinces.


WIN $50 in Rhythm & Roots Swag
All you need to do is buy an advance three-day ticket, with camping or without. You’re planning to come anyway, so buy your ticket by 11:59 p.m. April 30 AND get a chance to win.
Your name will be automatically entered in a drawing for one of five vouchers for $50 in Rhythm & Roots merchandise.
Don’t worry, if you already purchased advance three day ticket (s) with or without camping, you’ll already entered to win!
Vouchers are valid on 2019 Rhythm & Roots merchandise only, and are not valid for tickets, food, beverages or merchandise sold by artists or vendors. One per household please. Winners will be notified by May 15.
 Motif Music Awards 2019
“Best Locally Produced Music Festival”
Favorite Locally Produced Festival: Rhythm and Roots
If you would like to see what a REAL music festival is like then you should check out this year’s Motif Award winner for Best Locally Produced Festival, The Rhythm and Roots Festival. This one has all the ingredients of a perfect festival experience: multiple music stages, camping, food, after hours jamming, dancing and much, much more. This festival has been happening at Ninigret Park in Charlestown every Labor Day weekend for more than 20 years and has presented performers such as Steve Earle, Little Feat, Natalie McMaster, Bruse Hornsby, Roseanne Cash, The Mavericks, Keb Mo, Los Lobos, Lake Street Dive, Lucinda Williams and many, many others! For more,  zydego-go to rhythmandroots.com – JF
Critic’s Choice: Chuck Wentworth
Chuck Wentworth received his critic’s choice award because of his long-time, behind-the-scenes, commitment to music in RI and beyond. His company, Lagniappe Productions, produces the annual Rhythm and Roots Festival in Charlestown, The Mardi Gras Ball at Rhodes on the Pawtuxet and more. He was also involved in other out-of-state festivals, such as the Grey Fox Bluegrass festival in upstate New York. In his earlier days, he also produced cajunand zydeco dances at community halls and festivals in Escohag. In addition to all of this, he was a DJ and the head of the Folk Radio at WRIU for more than 30 years. While he recently retired from WRIU he still works tirelessly to promote music through Lagniappe Productions. – JF
To get every minute’s worth of Rhythm & Roots, staying overnight is a must. The late-night jams, new friends and R&R reunions at the campground extend the fun, but not everyone wants to sacrifice their time to tangled cords, unruly poles and tent stakes that don’t quite do the job.
Sound like you? Try glamping. It’s all of the fun and none of the hassle. Glamping is a mashup of glamour and camping, and while the Rhythm & Roots glamping tents don’t contain flushing toilets and hot showers, they’re roomy and ready for your relaxation. Show up with your clothes, dancing shoes, bedding and a cooler – that’s it.
Local Music
Sponsorship & Advertising Options at R&R 2019
With over 10,000 attending, drawing from 38 states and six Canadian provinces to southern RI in 2018, do not miss out on our Sponsorship and Advertising opportunities.

2019 Rhythm and Roots lineup Spotify playlist

I like to hear Steve Earle sing just fine, but I really like to hear him talk. The man behind “Guitar Town,” “Copperhead Road” and “Galway Girl” is headlining the three-day-long Rhythm & Roots Festival at Charlestown, RI’s Ninigret Park on Friday night, and for the last few mornings I’ve been scrolling Earle interviews while riding the bus to work in Brooklyn. Pithy, witty, earnest, occasionally wise – the 63-year-old singer is a thoughtful gent whose on-stage exposition can be just as entertaining as his interview responses. Below you’ll find 10 quick bites that stuck with me this week.

Earle’s band the Dukes doesn’t pull any punches when they kick their country-rock into action; they knock you around a bit. Last year’s So You Wannabe an Outlaw has just as much snarl as his best work, and the Waylon and Willie covers mix well with the Earle originals. So save some energy for the Friday closer at Ninigret; it’s the 30th anniversary of Copperhead Road album and the Dukes have been roaring through its program. The Rhythm & Roots curators saved the best for last.


I’m a firm believer that rock & roll only becomes an art form because of the lyrics. If it hadn’t been for Bob Dylan wanting to be John Lennon and John Lennon wanting to be Bob Dylan, it wouldn’t have been cranked up to the level of literature that makes it OK for rock & roll to be taken seriously.  – Rolling Stone

I know one way [Willie Nelson] heard about me was his, like, grandniece heard him playing the version of ‘The Devil’s Right Hand’ by the Highwaymen when she about five or something. And he played the whole record for relatives some place and she said, ‘I don’t know. I like it better by the real guy.’ So, around then, Willie would occasionally refer to me as ‘the fucking real guy.’ – PopMatters

I like sitting where I want to in the movies, and when you go to the theater at the last minute you can get a really good seat if you’re looking for a single. If I go to a baseball game I can stay for the whole thing. Being single in New York City doesn’t suck. I’m lonely sometimes, but I’m on the road half the time and that’s pretty lonely anyway. – The Guardian

I couldn’t have made this record [‘So You Wannabe an Outlaw’] if I hadn’t have made all the records I made between ‘Guitar Town’ (Earle’s 1987 debut album) and this one. I joked when somebody earlier asked me what this record was before I actually made it and I said it might have been the record I might have made if (label executive) Jimmy Bowen hadn’t pissed me off after ‘Guitar Town.’ It was funny, but the deal is that all the stuff that I’ve done, I don’t have a single record that I’m not proud of or any musical wave that I’ve ever made that I regret. – KansasCity.com

I have the complete works of William Shakespeare on my phone but I also have all of the Harry Potter books. I think J.K. Rowling will be remembered. She is the (Charles) Dickens of our era. – Eldoradonews.com

I’m OK with “folk singer.” Rock ‘n’ roll is folk music, and so is hip-hop. When a couple of kids get a piece of digital gear they don’t really understand, and throw the fucking manual away and just start pushing buttons, that’s the same thing as an NYU student with a banjo in 1957. It’s just doing it yourself, making music for yourself. – Billboard

To tell you the truth, for my own output, what I’m interested in are old-fashioned musicals, where the play holds up and each and every one of the songs holds up on their own, when you take them out of their environment. It’s starting to happen again. “Dear Evan Hansen” is really good and that’s pretty inspiring. I loved “Hamilton,” which I saw three times, (it’s) everything that it’s cracked up to be. But it’s still an opera and not a book musical. I’m just fascinated with book musicals because it’s an American art form. We kind of invented it. – theplanetweekly

I’m still writing the political record, but I’m going to hold it and keep writing it because I want it to be exactly right, and not come out until late 2019/2020 so it bumps up right against the election cycle. – City Pages

I think “Blowing in the Wind,” is way up there [as far as political songs go]. It’s an overt anti-war statement right as we were getting into the Vietnam War. When we were just getting into it, some people were just figuring it out what Vietnam was.. The Peter, Paul and Mary version, which I thought was the coolest things because I love Peter, Paul and Mary records. They’re not watered down or anything, they’re just their versions of those songs and they prove that he was important, that he was important as a songwriter. His manager knew that and his manager knew that you have a copyright that’s why he was able to make a living even though he wasn’t selling that many records. – The Nation

The best stuff coming out of Nashville is all by women except for Chris Stapleton. He’s great. The guys just wanna sing about getting fucked up. They’re just doing hip-hop for people who are afraid of black people. I like the new Kendrick Lamar record, so I’ll just listen to that. – The Guardian

Full Rhythm & Roots Line-Up

Check Earle’s track on Marc Ribot’s upcoming Songs of Resistance 1942-2018



Several shows of note next week all happening on Thursday evening. Get your Rhythm & Roots festival fix on Thursday night with a pre-fest kickoff show by Donna the Buffalo happening at The Knickerbocker Music Center in Westerly (35 Railroad Avenue)… 


The big music festival event in these parts happens next weekend (i.e., Labor Day weekend). The annual Rhythm & Roots Festival begins on Friday, August 31, and continues through late night Sunday of that weekend at Ninigret Park in Charlestown. The 21th edition of the event is overloaded with talent featured across multiple stages. This year’s headliners include Taj Mahal Trio, Steve Earle & The Dukes, Leftover Salmon, Hot Rize (featuring Red Knuckles & The Trailblazers, Donna the Buffalo, and Asleep at the Wheel. Also performing are Los Texmaniacs,  Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys, Shinyribs, CJ Chenier & the Red Hot Louisiana Band, Bonerama, Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams, Say Darling, Feufollet, Big Sam’s Funky Nation, Cedric Ballou & the Zydeco Trendsetters, Session Americana, Dustbowl Revival, Girls Guns & Glory, Earle & Coffin, Kristin Andreassen & Bright Sides, GroovaLottos, Len Cabral, and more. Visit www.rhythmandroots.com for all the information.

Dan Ferguson is a free-lance music writer and host of The Boudin Barndance, broadcast Thursday nights from 6 – 9 pm on WRIU-FM 90.3.


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

Advanced Ticket Sales End Soon
Don’t wait for the gate!
Get your tickets before the gate price increase on Aug 24th


Rhythm & Roots brings a variety of music to RI

CHARLESTOWN – If the only problem with life is that it doesn’t have any background music, then Labor Day weekend is going to perfect things. From Aug. 31 through Sept. 2, the 21st Annual Rhythm & Roots Festival will be bringing Ninigret Park to a rousing musical frenzy once again.

Calypso, jazz, reggae, gospel, soul, blues, swing, folk; if you can dance or dream to it, it’ll be echoing across the fields. Four separate stages will be the scene of a variety of events. The Family Stage draws kids of all ages with comedians, dance lessons, bubble art and hula-hooping. Arts & crafts projects, table games, a costume workshop, Twister, parachute games and nightly movies will command the attention of toddlers to teens.

The Dance Stage will be the place for those ready to swing and sway their cares away, across a 4,400-square foot tented wooden dance floor.

The Roots Stage will be hosting various workshops. And the Rhythm Stage will host over thirty different musical acts including Americana soul band Dustbowl Revival, Grammy-winning country swing band Asleep at The Wheel, blues musicians Taj Mahal Trio, and the Magnolia Cajun Band.

Also featured during the solid-packed event will be a Mardi Gras parade, and storytelling by children’s book author Len Cabral, the grandson of a Cape Verdean whaler. An oral history of Rhode Island’s indigenous people will also be shared.

Handmade gifts will be available for sale as well as food, and you’ll realize quickly that the grub here isn’t carnival-style eats. Kimchi, Thai noodles, smoked meats, potato pancakes and po-boys are just some of the unique selections on the menu, along with meat-free options and craft beers.

Come for a day or stay for the entire experience. Camping on the grounds is available for those who don’t mind roughing it. For those who do, there is the “glamping” option. The latter provides your ten-by-sixteen-foot tent, four cots, a rechargeable lantern, private portable toilet and a decorative throw rug, in addition to other necessities and niceties.

While on the grounds, feel free to take advantage of the park’s bike paths, swimming pond and playground. The event will include 24-hour security and first-aid.

Ticket prices vary depending on your plans, your age and your needs. From single day tickets, to 3-day teen passes to four nights of sleeping under the stars in style, you can make the call at the gate or save some cash by buying your tickets or making your reservations in advance.

Ninigret Park is located at 4890A Old Post Road in Charlestown. If you’ve never had the Rhythm & Roots experience, come and discover why tens of thousands of people from all over the United States and Canada venture out to Rhode Island Labor Day weekend to see Mardi Gras done New England style.

For tickets, reservations or questions, call 401-783-3926.


Dance Stage Daily Schedule

1:00 – 2:00 Zydeco Dance Instruction w/ Zydeco Hogs
2:30 – 4:30 Cedryl Ballou
5:00 – 7:00 Los Texmaniacs
7:30 – 9:30 Feufollet
10:00 – 12:00 CJ Chenier


1:00 – 2:00 Zydeco Dance Instruction w/ Zydeco Hogs
2:30 – 4:30 Feufollet
5:00 – 7:00 Cedryl Ballou
7:30 – 9:30 Steve Riley
10:00 – 12:00 CJ Chenier


12:45 – 1:45 Cajun Dance Instruction w/ Magnolia
1:45 – 2:15 Cajun Music Camp
2:30 – 4:30 Cedryl Ballou
5:00 – 7:00 Feufollet
7:30 – 9:30 CJ Chenier
10:00 – 12:00 Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys




Premium Parking Passes | Glamping Tents Almost Sold Out | Sponsorship Openings

August 31, September 1 & 2, 2018

Ninigret Park, Charlestown, Rhode Island
Rhythm Stage Daily Schedule

1:00 – 2:00 Session Americana
2:15 – 3:15 Girls, Guns and Glory
3:30 – 4:30 Feufollet
4:45 – 5:45 Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams
6:00 – 7:15 Big Sam’s Funky Nation
7:30 – 9:00 Donna the Buffalo
9:30 – 11:00 Steve Earle & the Dukes


1:00 – 2:00 Cedryl Ballou & the Zydeco Trendsetters
2:15 – 3:15 Say Darling
3:30 – 4:30 Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys
4:45 – 5:45 Bonerama
6:00 – 7:15 Dustbowl Revival
7:30 – 9:00 Asleep At The Wheel
9:30 – 11:00 Leftover Salmon


1:00 – 2:00 Earle & Coffin
2:15 – 3:15 Golden Triangle
3:30 – 4:30 CJ Chenier
4:45 – 6:00 Los Texmaniacs
6:15 – 7:30 Shinyribs
7:45 – 9:15 Hot Rize feat. Red Knuckles & the Trailblazers
9:30 – 11:00 Taj Mahal Trio

2018 LINE UP



Glamping – Low Ticket Alert

Why pitch a tent, when you can arrive at your festival campsite with all the work done for you?

New last year, the cushy and convenient camping experience is called “glamping” and includes a 16-by-10 Bell tent with four cots, a rechargeable lantern, camp table, throw rug, decorative bunting, Rhythm & Roots swag and a private portable toilet nearby.

Premium Parking

New this year: Premium Parking!
Park in one of the 100 closest parking spots to the front gate.
Buy all 3 days and receive a $10 discount automatically

Sponsorship Opportunities

This is a unique opportunity to place your company name and logo before more than 10,000 music-, dance- and food-loving folks who know how to have a great time. If you, or someone you know, is interested in becoming an integral part of Rhythm & Roots, please contact us below for complete information.
Learn More

Join Our Street Team

We’re looking for folks near and far to help us spread the word about Rhythm and Roots in Rhode Island!

Learn More

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 401.783.3926.

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