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TICKETS ON SALE
26th ANNUAL MARDI GRAS BALL
at Rhodes on the Pawtuxet
Lagniappe Productions, creators of the annual Labor Day weekend Rhythm & Roots Festival in Charlestown, R.I., are bringing their well-loved brand of great music, food, dancing and fun to the 26th annual Louisiana Mardi Gras celebration.
Southern New England’s popular Mardi Gras Ball is set for 6:30 p.m. to midnight, Saturday, Feb. 10, at Rhodes on the Pawtuxet in Cranston, R.I. Doors open at 6 p.m. in anticipation of Grammy-winning Cajun band Beausoleil avec Michael Doucet, international performers Nathan & the Zydeco Cha Chas, and New Orleans blues from Rhode Island’s own Knickerbocker All-Stars.
Cajun and Creole cuisine is offered by the renowned Chili Brothers Food Company – arguably the most popular food vendor at the Rhythm & Roots Festival every year, serving up their world-famous, Louisiana-inspired cuisine.
The ball also features a costume contest with cash prizes in a variety of categories including best group, best couple, best individual and a grand prize of $250 for best overall costume.
Tickets are $30 in advance or $40 at the door. Reserve a table for 10 (in advance only) for $325. Tables sell out fast. Tickets may be purchased at http://www.rhythmandroots.com/mardi-gras-ball or by calling 401.783.3926.
Lodging is available at the Rodeway Inn, 1940 Post Road, Warwick. Rooms are $79 per night. Call 401.732.0470 and ask for the Mardi Gras rate.
The event will benefit VSA Arts RI, the nonprofit organization that opens the world of art to children and adults with disabilities.
About the Bands
Lafayette, LA-based Beausoleil avec Michael Doucet has been one of the most esteemed Cajun groups in music since forming in 1975. BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet take the rich Cajun traditions of Louisiana and artfully blend elements of zydeco, New Orleans jazz, Tex-Mex, country, blues and more. From The Grand Ole Opry to Newport Folk, from concert hall to dance floor, the music of BeauSoleil captivates audiences the world over. Michael Doucet sings and plays violin, guitar, accordion and mandolin.
Accordion master Nathan Williams, of Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Chas, was mentored by one of the greats, Buckwheat Zydeco. He has been inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame and has been honored with the Zydeco Music Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Formed in 1985, the band has brought its unique take on regional South Louisiana music around the world. Dennis Paul Williams, Nathan’s brother, brings his jazz-influenced guitar to the band.
The Knickerbocker All-Stars is made up of legends of the blues community who have found their home at the Knickerbocker, the historic venue in Westerly, R.I., that gave rise to Roomful of Blues, which launched the blues revival in the 1970s. Musicians in the All-Stars have included Jimmie Vaughan, Duke Robillard, Al Copley, Monster Mike Welch, Ricky Russell, Willie J Laws, Brian Templeton, Sugaray Rayford, Rich Lataille and more. For the Mardi Gras Ball, The All-Stars will be showcasing a set of New Orleans music classics with a special tribute to recently passed Fats Domino.
Tickets Go On Sale – Tuesday, November 21 at 10am
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If the weather is good, the festival attracts about 5,000 people per day. Organizer Chuck Wentworth said he wouldn’t want Rhythm & Roots to get much bigger than that. “We don’t want to lose that laid-back, family vibe,” he said.
The Rhythm & Roots Festival, celebrating its 20thyear, dances into Ninigret Park in Charlestown this weekend, with three full days of performances — Friday, Saturday and Sunday — on four stages.
Headliners on the main stage include the Squirrel Nut Zippers and the Mavericks on Friday, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and MarchFourth on Saturday, Rosanne Cash and the New Orleans Suspects on Sunday.
But the heart of this festival may well be the dance tent, which shelters a big wooden dance floor. There’s Cajun and zydeco music all day long (and well into the night) and the tent is almost always crowded with dancers.
Rhythm & Roots grew out of the much-loved Cajun & Bluegrass Festival at the Stepping Stone Ranch in Escoheag, run by Chuck Wentworth and Franklin Zawacki. When they parted ways, Wentworth and partner Mary Doub created the Rhythm & Roots Festival.
For its first year, it stayed at the Stepping Stone Ranch but Wentworth, who now runs Rhythm & Roots on his own, said the new festival needed a more spacious and accessible site. “We were busting at the seams . . . Ninigret was right off Route 1, it had plenty of space, plenty of parking. It was everything we needed,” he said.
If the weather is good, the festival attracts about 5,000 people per day. Wentworth said he wouldn’t want Rhythm & Roots to get much bigger than that. “We don’t want to lose that laid-back, family vibe,” he said.
The festival includes a family stage, which will feature Keith Munslow, the Hot Tamale Brass Band, storytellers Len Cabral and Marc Levitt, and a Mardi Gras parade each day at 5:15 p.m.
Rhode Island native Sarah Potenza has been performing at Rhythm & Roots since 2011, and she’ll be there again this year. She said it’s one of her favorite festivals thanks to its combination of music, dancing and food. Plus she gets to see family and lots of old friends. “That makes it very special for us,” she said.
As for the festival’s future, Wentworth said he wants to take it one year at a time. He said the “rhythm and roots” category allows for a lot of different styles. He’s interested in the possibilities of more Latin music at the festival.
“I’d love to go down to Cuba and take a look at that music,” he said. “But some things don’t change. There’s always going to be a lot of dancing . . . I like the way we have it set up. If you’re going to get food, you have to go by the dance tent.”
The Rhythm & Roots will be held Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Sept.1-3, at Ninigret Park in Charlestown. For schedule information and tickets, go to rhythmandroots.com.
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