Jan 4, 2023
When 2022 started, there was still some uncertainty about the future due to the COVID-19 delta & omicron variants wreaking havoc in various capacities. I clearly remember the plans of several clubs and venues for New Year’s Eve at the end of 2021 being nearly ruined by it with last resort ideas such as a karaoke night going on to ring in the festivities. At the same time, there was some light at the end of the tunnel because of the fact that this year wasn’t going to have any shutdowns like in 2020 and the first quarter of 2021 due to the area’s high vaccination rate and the easing of restrictions. I personally was excited for a full music festival season and looking back at that particular time, I had a very good reason to be. It ended up being one of the best springs & summers I ever had and I’ll definitely reflect on it fondly, which is kind of what this article is about.
I traveled all over New England going to various music festivals such as The Town and The City Festival in Lowell, Massachusetts back in April where I got to hang at a bar Jack Kerouac, Ed McMahon and Edgar Allan Poe used to frequent. I also got to see English alt-rock legend Robyn Hitchcock perform solo in a Greek dining hall as part of the festival which was purely a one-of-a-kind experience. The following month I headed up north to Winooski, Vermont right near Burlington for the Waking Windows Festival and I was blown away by such a jubilant time happening right in the center of a revitalized mill town. I clearly remember enjoying the performances from Japanese psych-rock band Kikagaku Moyo, alt-fuzz power trio Dinosaur Jr., English post-punk quartet Dry Cleaning, hip hop artist Sammus and local indie rockers Clever Girls. Closing out May during Memorial Day Weekend was the Boston Calling Music Festival and my favorite moment of that was reliving some teenage nostalgia while seeing Metallica close out the final day with an abundance of shredding & amplification.
I also checked out the Green River Music Festival in Greenfield, Massachusetts and the Levitate Music Festival in Marshfield, Massachusetts the following June and July, but for the sake of local connection I’d like to talk about a few festivals I got to enjoy here in Rhode Island. When it comes to PVDFest in Providence, the Saturday edition of it is the best day to go because that’s when the most stuff is going on. Getting to see the aliens of Big Nazo roam the streets along with the Providence Drum Troupe was awesome and the same can be said for watching recent rock & roll transplants Salem Wolves rip it up. Both the Newport Folk & Jazz Festivals were once again fantastic, the surprise appearances of Paul Simon and Joni Mitchell at the Folk Festival could very well be the live music highlight of the year. Seeing The Fearless Flyers, Cory Wong, PJ Morton, Ron Carter, Lettuce and Sons Of Kemet, which was one of their final performances ever, at the Jazz Festival reaffirmed my belief that it’s my favorite music festival on the planet.
I did have the pleasure of attending both the Beach Road Weekend in Martha’s Vineyard and the FreshGrass Festival in North Adams, Massachusetts in August and September, but the festival that I was very excited to see return was the Rhythm & Roots Festival. Taking place at Ninigret Park in Charlestown during Labor Day Weekend, the festival is incredibly underrated and it always guarantees to be a fun experience. For a little while it was in jeopardy of returning due to Lagniappe Productions’ Chuck Wentworth considering stepping away for health reasons, but ultimately he remained as a consultant for the festival while the Connecticut based GoodWorks Entertainment jumped on to handle the operations. It was awesome seeing Samantha Fish, the North Mississippi Allstars, Anders Osborne & Jackie Greene, The New Orleans Suspects, Veronica Lewis and Little Feat perform. If you get the chance to attend Rhythm & Roots next year, I highly suggest that you don’t pass it up.
Along with the festivals, I got to see a ton of great shows including Robert Plant & Alison Krauss at the Leader Bank Pavilion in Boston, Coheed and Cambria at Fete Music Hall in Providence and Steve Vai at The Strand Ballroom & Theatre in the same city. Seeing the new Radiohead side project The Smile at The Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Providence was pretty sweet as well. It feels nice to have a return of normalcy somewhat despite all the craziness happening in the world, let’s hope that COVID-19 and its variants continue to mitigate and become less of a disruptor in our everyday lives. It also feels nice just to get out and do stuff, I personally can’t wait for next summer to begin and in my opinion, we do have the best summers in Rhode Island. Until the next show, stay safe, be good to one another and make sure to enjoy yourself while doing so.
Aug 8, 2018
CHARLESTOWN, R.I. – Aug. 8, 2018 – PRLog — Rhythm & Roots asked, and music lovers answered. In a survey last year the Taj Mahal Trio was the most-requested artist and Steve Earle & the Dukes was No. 2. So that’s exactly who will be headlining the 21st annual music and dance festival, which transforms Charlestown’s Ninigret Park into a three-day, family-friendly party from Aug. 31 to Sept. 2.
Calling this year the “People’s Choice” festival, producer Chuck Wentworth says Taj Mahal, a legendary bluesman and Rhythm & Roots fan favorite, has performed in Charlestown three or four times. “I don’t think he’s ever had a bad show that I know of. He delivers every time.” Earle is performing as part of his 30th anniversary celebration of Copperhead Road, his breakthrough bluegrass-meets-metal album. His band will also pay homage to Earle’s love of outlaw country music.
Popular requests also included the Texas Western swing and country favorite, Asleep at the Wheel, and Boulder, Colo.-based Leftover Salmon, one of the original jam bands that play what they describe as a “poly-ethnic, Cajun slamgrass.”
“Having these favorites in there is going to make for a really good show,” Wentworth says.
About 5,000 visitors per day, from as far as the Virgin Islands, California and Louisiana, are expected to take in the laid-back groove that has made the festival an annual reunion of sorts for families and friends who appreciate all forms of roots music: blues, swing, bluegrass, zydeco, Cajun and Americana. Performances are held every day from 1 p.m. to midnight on four stages. Buy tickets at rhythmandroots.com or call 401.783.3926.
While popular acts on the festival circuit have been requested this year, “We haven’t abandoned the concept of bringing in new music,” Wentworth says, noting that he is introducing fans to the “fantastic” 18-year-old duo from St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nick Earle and Joe Coffin, discovered on one of his music trips to Canada.
Also new to Rhythm & Roots this year: Big Sam’s Funky Nation, a New Orleans blend of funk, jazz, rock and hip-hop; Larry Campbell,formerly with Levon Helm and the Midnight Ramblers, and Teresa Williams, a married couple who will perform Delta blues, folk and Americana music; bluegrass quartet Hot Rize, is celebrating a milestone and will play with the country quartet Red Knuckles and the Trailblazers. “I couldn’t resist bringing them in here for their 40thanniversary,” Wentworth says.
This year’s lineup may represent the widest spectrum of roots music yet. Rhythm & Roots always offers a heavy dose of Louisiana music (Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys, Cedryl Ballou & the Zydeco Trendsetters, Bonerama, CJ Chenier & the Red Hot Louisiana Band to name a few),and this year offers a sampling of Americana music(Girls, Guns and Glory and Session Americana, both from the Boston area) blues(Taj Mahal Trio and Earle and Coffin), bluegrass (Hot Rize), Tex-Mex (Los Texmaniacs) and swing (Asleep at the Wheel).
Music lovers can set up the blankets and chairs and relax at the main RHYTHM STAGE, which features at least seven performances a day, or check out daily music workshops followed by extended performances and jams at the ROOTS STAGE. The DANCE STAGE, with its covered, 4,400-square-foot wooden floor, attracts dancers from 40-plus states and three Canadian provinces. The FAMILY STAGE features music, dance, storytelling, crafts and nighttime movies for kids of all ages.
Other attractions of Rhythm & Roots:
Camp Out – Ninigret allows camping only during Rhythm & Roots, and about 1,500 people stay for the entire weekend. Last year, Rhythm & Roots added an extra night of camping on Thursday and a new upscale offer of “glamping” to celebrate its 20th anniversary. Those additions will continue. “Glampers” arrive at the festival to find a tent already set up and outfitted with four cots, a lantern, table and other amenities. Quiet camping spots are available as well.
Park Close to the Entrance – If you’re not camping and want fewer steps between you and the music, premier day parking is for you. The 100 spots close to the front gate will be can be purchased for $20 per day, or $50 for all three days. Spaces are limited. To reserve a spot purchase parking passes online at rhythmandroots.com/tickets/.
Eat and Drink – 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. Fan favorite Chili Brothers will attend again this year, and a new vendor, Gotta Q Smokehouse and BBQ of Cumberland, RI, has won the Motif award for best BBQ food truck two years in a row.
Join the Rhythm & Roots Youth Music Camp – It’s free.Children can learn to play Cajun fiddle, accordion, guitar, bass and mandolin from talented artists, including director and expert fiddler Pam Weeks. No festival ticket is needed for the camp, which ends with a graduation gig in the DANCE STAGE Sunday at 2 p.m.
Play With Your Kids – Story-telling by the well known Len Cabral, Marc Levitt and Thawn Harris parades, games, comedians, hula hooping, and one act every day by the Contemporary Theater Company in Wakefield can be found at the FAMILY STAGE.
Buy Tickets Today – Buying before August 24th saves $15 per day. Once tickets are in hand, it’s quicker and more efficient to get in to the event than to buy at the gate. Visit rhythmandroots.com or call 401.783.3926. Children 12 years and under are free, and 13- to 19-year-olds get in for half price. “The basis of it all is it’s a good family festival, and we try to keep that at the forefront,” Wentworth says.
Here’s the artist lineup: http://rhythmandroots.com/artist-lineup/