Life is a song and it wants to be sung. Ute Lemper, the New York-based German singer and dancer, is renowned for her interpretations of Brecht Weill songs; she slipped into the skin of Marlene Dietrich and has made a name for herself worldwide as a musical performer and specialist for the repertoire of the 1920s. The richer the versatile artist’s palette became, the more she became longingly aware of what else was slumbering inside of her, waiting to be shared with the world. More than anything else, the need to sing about her innermost self was becoming increasingly more urgent. “Time Traveler” is not the first album on which Ute Lemper sings her own material and yet, since the story of this collection of songs already began 23 years ago, it is a turning point in her self-perception. In many ways, the year 2000 was a new beginning for Ute Lemper, a year in which she freed herself from the cocoon of her historical repertoire and found herself in her songs. The album “Punishing Kiss” from that year still consisted of songs that other artists had specifically tailored to her. “I thought to myself, there’s no reason at all why I can’t sit down at the piano and write myself” she says, recapping that turning point. While working on “Punishing Kiss,” she met her future husband Todd Turkisher, who had his own studio in New York’s Chelsea district. There, Ute Lemper’s first self-composed songs were created and recorded on an analog tape machine. For various reasons, however, these songs were not released at the time. They disappeared into the basement, gathering dust for the time being. The album “Between Yesterday and Tomorrow”, with original compositions by Ute was eventually released in 2008. However, these were not the songs written eight years earlier. Subsequently, she set texts by Charles Bukowski, Pablo Neruda and Paulo Coelho to music for three very different albums and other projects followed.
By mere chance, the boxes of tapes that had disappeared two decades earlier reappeared in her in-laws’ basement in 2021. But the original tape machine no longer existed and the songs could not be played back. As luck would have it, a cassette with a backup copy turned up and, upon hearing these songs again, Ute and Todd embarked on their journey back through time. Thrilled, they arranged for the original tapes to be digitized. “We listened to the songs and agreed that it was worth trying to revive them,” the singer recounts today with euphoria, as if she had discovered this hidden treasure only yesterday. “However, this wasn’t possible with all of the songs, some of which were just too antiquated. But others still had a contemporary pulse that interested me. We did tweak some of these songs in terms of production but even then, it was clear to me that we couldn’t make an album from these old pieces alone. Then one morning I felt the impulse to write new songs again, there was a spark of intuition, additionally inspired by age. The first song that came was ‘Time Traveler,’ because, for me, going back and unfolding this 23-year-old crease in time really is time travel.”
Ute Lemper doesn’t don a mask here but delves into the panopticon of her own life with all its highs and lows, translating joys and pain, longings and their fulfillment into words and music. Through the songs, many encounters with herself at different points in her life became possible. “I’ve lived through a lot in the past 23 years, spinning incessantly around my own axis, but all of that has to be reflected upon from the perspective of the present.” With “Time Traveler” Ute Lemper accomplishes the unusual feat that, for listeners, the 23 years which lie between the individual songs aren’t obvious at all. The present in the past and the past in the present merge as if by osmosis. In the three old songs, Ute Lemper has partially changed the depth of focus lyrically and musically; on the other hand, the seven new songs fully engage with life experiences without corrupting them. She leaves it to the listener to identify the joints between the layers of time for themselves.
“As you get older,” she says Ute Lemper about the way her own two respective life and personality phases interpenetrate, “you constantly uncover new secrets, and these secrets can be so much better illuminated in lyrics and music. The Ute of old learns from the new Ute that less is always more, and that the quiet is always more fascinating than the loud. The lyrics must contain secrets which allow listeners to rediscover secrets of their own. I still carry the young Ute in me but have the opportunity now to allow her more room.
With her new album, Ute Lemper emancipates herself musically from all categories. Depending on socialization and personal preferences one can hear these songs as pop, rock, jazz, soul or chanson, all of these at once, or simply just as Ute Lemper. She is no longer ready to live up to any expectations, but rather draws inspiration from songs that she herself enjoys listening to. This includes references to artists and bands like Hiatus Kaiyote, John Legend, Joni Mitchell, Sarah McLachlan, Annie Lennox, Erykah Badu or Robert Glasper but without attempting to copy any of them.
All songs are one hundred percent Ute Lemper. In some pieces she takes risks in terms of production and sound, initially luring the listener onto a completely wrong path, such as in the title track; in others she conceals small surprising details in the production, putting the songs, herself and not least of all the auditory perception to the test over and over again.
“Time Traveler” is a very personal album, but its message extends far beyond Ute’s own life experience. As society narrows our perception down to a moment that seems to be ever shorter, we forget the importance of taking the past on board and learning from it. “Progress is gaining more and more speed, and we are not encouraged to look in the rearview mirror,” postulates Ute Lemper. “As soon as we embed our lives a little bit more in the past, we learn some interesting things. The more I involve myself with the young Ute, the more I can grasp why I do all of this in the first place.”
With “Time Traveler,” Ute Lemper has given a wonderful gift to herself. And yet, first and foremost, it is an album that functions like a signpost. In the unsparing self-honesty with which, in a most accessible way, Ute Lemper reflects on her life, it’s possible for most listeners to find themselves as well.
UTE LEMPER – Time Traveler
1 Time Traveler 04:06
2 In My Flame 04:40
3 Moving On 03:58
4 Magical Stone 04:36
5 At The Reservoir 04:53
6 Little Face – The Sequel 04:09
7 Man With No Face 03:45
8 Envie d’amour 03:23
9 Cry In The Dark 03:29
10 The Gift 03:46
All musc & lyrics Ute Lemper
Produced by Ute Lemper & Todd Turkisher
Original Analog Recording at Todd’s Studio, NYC summer of 2000, are engineered by Todd Turkisher and Ute Lemper
All new recordings 2021-2022 In our living room, NYC. Analog time travel tape transfers by Steve Rosenthal at The Magic Shop, Brooklyn, NY. Additional present time production/editing Alex Poeppel 2021-2022 and Ari Raskin 2022
Mixed by Kevin Killen, Ute Lemper, Alex Poeppel, Todd Turkisher 2022
KINDRED SPIRITS Ute Lemperchannels Dietrich on Rendezvous with Marlene
It takes a kind of fearlessness to address the mythical talent of superstar Marlene Dietrich. Dietrich’s stardom is legendary; her story a picaresque of adventure, fantasy, imagination, and coveted reality. Yet, if anyone can begin to touch Dietrich’s transcendent nature, to tell her story, it would have to be Berlin-born, New York-based Ute Lemper.
Lemper, a multi-talented musical theater and cabaret star, has lit up stages—acting, singing, dancing, writing, even painting—since the early ’80s. She began with Chekhov and Weill, among others, making a name for herself as an outsized talent.
But it was as a songstress, particularly as an exponent of the music of the Weimar Republic, that Lemper made her most lasting impact. She brings immense theatricality to her music, along with irony, sexuality, satire, and humor. She received a tremendous amount of attention for her dramatic cabaret-style performances and was heralded as the “New Dietrich.” In 1988, after receiving a Moliére Award for her performance in “Cabaret” in Paris, Ute sent a note to Dietrich, essentially apologizing for all the comparisons. I explained to her that I was just starting my career and that the comparisons were inappropriate,” said Lemper. I thanked her for inspiring me to become a performer and mentioned how much I admired her many achievements on stage and screen.”
A month later, Dietrich, then in her late 80s, called Lemper. Dietrich was a recluse by that time and had not left her Paris home for many years. But she and Lemper connected and the discussion was incredibly rich and profound. She told me everything about her life–emotional and historical—and I was very overwhelmed by it all,” said Lemper. It took me thirty years to think about it and finally be ready to put it into a show.” The three-hour conversation the two had discussing Dietrich’s fascinating life, forms the foundation of Rendezvous with Marlene, a lavish, lovable homage to the great performer. It began as a performance and is now a spectacular recording of the same name.
Ute sings to us Marlene’s story, fabulous songs from all the chapters of her life, from the Berlin cabaret years to her Burt Bacharach collaborations, with whom Dietrich toured for 15 years. Lemper puts her own spin on the material, injects them with modern drama, melodrama, and unfiltered flourishes of Dietrich’s sensuality.
Ute Lemper Rendezvous with Marlene is “An unforgettable evening: stylish, graceful, heart-warming and powerful, this is an event not to be missed,” says Shane Morgan of St. George’s Bristol, UK.
Essentially, Rendezvous with Marlene is the sound of one enormous talent passing her story along to another. And while we don’t know what motivated Dietrich to transfer her life story to Lemper, she most certainly sensed they were kindred spirits. You don’t have to listen long to the many lush tracks on Rendezvous with Marlene to understand that the two possess a simpatico life, sharing a kind of distinct versatility, attitude, humor, and multi-faceted approach to art. One critic raved: “An extraordinary, unforgettable evening with a sublime artist at the height of her powers – it should on no account be missed!” (Musical Theatre Review)
“A superb tribute to one astonishing woman from another, fascinating, enlightening, intense, often moving, and always entertaining,” according to Northern Soul.
“What a gift it was to hear Marlene talk about her life,” says Lemper. “This recording is my personal tribute to her. She was sexy, tough, and funny and her comic timing was ever-present, even in her singing,” said Lemper. “She was a free spirit,” Lemper recalls. “She was politically and morally outspoken and courageous. She was ladylike and bossy. She had class but loved whiskey, dirty jokes, and a good smoke. I tell her story through my eyes and sing her songs with my voice. She is using my body and voice to speak.”
Successfully. Says a critic writing for Gay UK, “By a huge margin the finest act of sustained, emotional intensity and fearless self-revelation I’ve ever seen. Ute – like Bowie, Callas, and Garland before her – is in an unprecedented class of her own.”
Described as an “extraordinary, unforgettable evening with a sublime artist at the height of her powers – it should on no account be missed!” (Musical Theatre Review), Ute Lemper’s “Rendezvous With Marlene” channels Dietrich’s story of courage, glamour, and humanity. Ahead of her time, Dietrich was a legend as an actress, singer, fashion icon, and free spirit. In her first show entirely focused on honoring Marlene, based on the true story of a phone call they shared, Lemper interprets some of Dietrich’s most beautiful songs and recounts some captivating secrets of her life. Don’t miss this enthralling exploration of Marlene’s career and personal life.
Click hereto log in and buy your ticket for this unique performance. Tickets are $25.00, and one ticket serves a whole family and friends watching together.
Here is the setlist for the performance:
Where Have All The Flowers Gone (Pete Seeger)
Just A Gigolo (Leonello Casucci)
One For My Baby (Harold Arlen / Johnny Mercer)
Life’s A Swindle (Mischa Spoliansky / Marcellus Schiffer)
They Call Me Naughty Lola (Friedrich Hollaender)
Boys In The Backroom (Frank Loesser / Friedrich Hollaender)
Lili Marleen (Norbert Schulze / Hans Leip)
Ruins Of Berlin (Friedrich Hollaender)
Black Market (Friedrich Hollaender)
When The World Was Young (Johnny Mercer / M. Philippe-Gérard)
Ne me quitte pas (Jacques Brel)
Laziest Gal In Town (Cole Porter)
The Answer My Friend Is Blowing In The Wind (Bob Dylan)
Que reste-t-il de nos amours / I Wish You Love (Charles Trenet)
Falling In Love Again (Friedrich Hollaender)
Ute’s band for this performance will be:
Vana Gierig : Piano
When she received much acclaim for her 1988 performance in the Paris staging of Cabaret, including some comparison to Marlene Dietrich, German actress/singer UTE LEMPER felt embarrassed by this, and wrote a note to Dietrich apologizing for the comparison. She received a phone call from Dietrich in return, and during their lengthy conversation, Dietrich recalled much of what had occurred in her life. It was an occasion of great significance for Lemper. A few years ago, Lemper created Rendezvous With Marlene (Jazzhaus – 184). This show, originally done as a cabaret performance, provided an overview of Dietrich’s life and career, with Lemper performing 20 songs associated with Dietrich. I saw the show at the York Theater last year, and greatly enjoyed it. Lemper does an effective job of capturing the Dietrich persona, but also brings much of her own performing personality to the production. She is an accomplished actress and singer, who moves easily between being herself and channeling Dietrich. The recording contains only the musical portion of the show, but stands nicely on its own.
Review by Joe Lang
In addition to this has been watched 75,000 times on Ute and lyricist Paulo Coelho’s and
The history of this album takes us back more than thirty years to 1988. It was then that a three-hour telephone conversation took place in Paris between two German women, two Actresses and singers, Marlene Dietrich and Ute Lemper. Some of our readers do not need to explain who they are, but for the rest, especially the young ones, we will have to tell them…
So, Marlene Dietrich (1901-1992). A sex symbol of her era, a great actress and singer. Her fame rose in the 20s, in the film “Blue angel”, which brought her unprecedented success not only at home, but also far beyond its borders. After moving to Hollywood, she quickly became a star there. The Nazis who came to power in Germany promised Marlene all imaginable benefits for her return. But Marlene Dietrich was sharply negative about Hitler and his brown pack. She defiantly renounced her German citizenship and accepted US citizenship. During the war, she often performed in front of allied soldiers in Europe. Someone pointed out that Dietrich was more often on the front line than Eisenhower. After the collapse of Nazism, she continued her brilliant career. In 1960, she arrived in her native Berlin, where she was obstructed, considered a traitor. After a while, Marlene settled in Paris. After an unfortunate fall from the stage in 1975, she could only walk with a stick – and did not want to be seen like this. Then she lived as a recluse in Paris, not communicating with anyone, her relationship with her daughter was very difficult, in the past there were stormy romances with world celebrities, in the past there was fame.
This is what Marlene called Ute Lemper (b.1963) in 1988. Starting with performances with a jazz-rock band, she turned into a musical and cabaret star by the age of 25-just like Dietrich once did. In 1988, in Paris, she was awarded the prestigious Moliere Prize for playing and singing in the musical “Cabaret”. That’s when she sent the card to Dietrich. A miracle happened: she suddenly agreed to talk to Ute on the phone. For three long hours, Marlene told her young companion many secrets of her personal and creative life. Ute was lucky: the stars came together and the great diva wanted to pour out her soul.
Many years later, in 2019, the already very famous Lemper put this conversation at the heart of her show Rendezvous with Marlene, where she tells the story of the life of Marlene Dietrich from the stage and sings songs from her repertoire. The audio album Rendezvous with Marlene is a kind of soundtrack of a very successful show, met with the most positive responses around the world. Like Dietrich, Lemper sings here in three languages-German, English and French, and sings with a very precise balance between Dietrich’s characteristic singing style and the danger of “playing too much” in imitation of her unique husky contralto. Here you can hear songs from the time of Dietrich’s success in Weimar Germany – the world-famous Lili Marlen, songs by her favorite composer Friedrich Holender, who, like her favorite Director von Sternberg, had to flee from the persecution of the Nazis, – Wenn Ich mir wunschen durfte, Ruins Of Berlin, sound jazz standards Mercer (One For My Baby, When The Workd Was Young) and porter (the Laziest Gal In Town) times of successful collaboration with Bert Bacharach, songs of great American folk singers Pete Seeger (Where Have All the Flowers Gone) and Bob Dylan (Blowing In the Wind), beautiful French songs, for example, Marie Marie Gilbert BECO. In short, this is a stunning excursion into the popular music of the twentieth century, which was loved and sung by the great Marlene Dietrich.
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Today, the folks behind the 25th annual Rhythm & Roots, Music, Dance and Food Festival delivered the names of the headliners and associated acts for the gathering, which takes place over Labor Day Weekend, Sept. 1 through 3, at Ninigret Park in Charleston, R.I.
The impending spring event will include Greensky Bluegrass, Trombone Shorty and Dumpstaphunk as headliners. The bill includes 20 other acts, such as Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys, Curley Taylor & Zydeco Trouble, The Revelers, Corey Ledet Zydeco, Old Fashioned Aces and more.
Rounding out the current lineup are Knickerbocker All-Stars, Mighty Soul Drivers, Ward Hayden & The Outliers, Paul Gabriel Blues Band and Christine Ohlman & Rebel Montez with the Sin Sisters. Additional players will be added the schedule in the coming weeks.
The Rhythm & Root Festival boasts three stages, the Rhythm (primary) stage with standing room and lawn seating and the tented Roots and Dance stages. Moreover, the festival features over a dozen food vendors, a range of craft vendors, beer and wine.
For tickets to the annual event, visit Rhythm & Roots Festival’s official website.
Grace Potter, Little Feat, Cowboy Mouth to Headline Rhythm & Roots
Labor Day Weekend Festival Opens Friday with New Orleans Theme
CHARLESTOWN, R.I. –– The 24th Rhythm & Roots Music, Dance and Food Festival kicks off with a New Orleans party of musical styles followed by traditionalists, little-known talent, fan favorites and new interpreters of the ever-expanding definition of roots music.
The Sept. 2, 3 & 4 festival, held at Ninigret Park every year, will feature headliners Cowboy Mouth on Friday, Grace Potter on Saturday and Little Feat on Sunday. They will join Samantha Fish, Anders Osborne & Jackie Green, North Mississippi All-Stars, The Pine Leaf Boys, The New Orleans Suspects, and longtime festival performers Donna the Buffalo and Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys. Over two dozen bands will cover the map of musical styles – Cajun, R&B, Delta blues, Zydeco, soul, country, rock and gospel among them.
The festival, now produced by GoodWorks Entertainment, offers the same “chill but lively” vibe that’s made it a much-awaited, end-of-summer reunion for friends and family for over two decades. Founder and longtime producer Chuck Wentworth, who sold the festival earlier this year, is still involved and brings his family’s expertise to the party.
As always, the festival features music on three stages, including the Dance Tent for two-step and waltz enthusiasts. Local beer, wine and seltzers are available, as is food of all kinds from popular vendors and sales of artisans’ wares are back. Ninigret Park’s playground, swimming, tennis or biking are options for anyone needing a break between bands. RV, pop-up and tent camping is available and enhances the overall festival experience. Festival grounds open at 4 p.m. Friday and noon on Saturday and Sunday. Performances start one hour after opening through 11 p.m. Tickets range from $49 for the Friday New Orleans opener to $249 to camp, dance and hear music all three days. (Note that the three-day camping tickets sold out last year.)
Here’s what you can expect.
The diversity of styles is a major draw for returning fans, and New Orleans, a city synonymous with diverse music, is the theme for the opening night of the festival. The rowdy sound of the rock/punk/blues band Cowboy Mouth will highlight the evening. Perhaps best known for their mid-1990s hit, “Jenny Says,” the New Orleans natives will offer up a live concert experience likened to a Southern gospel revival “without the religion,” according to bandleader, drummer and lead singer Fred LeBlanc, formerly of the punk band Dash Rip Rock. “With every show, no matter where it is, we try to turn it into New Orleans during the middle of Mardi Gras.”
The New Orleans Suspects bring their swamp rock party to Charlestown, along with two first-timers to the festival, the Honey Island Swamp Band, with its mix of blues, south and country, and singer/songwriter/keyboardist John Papa Gros. Fan favorites Nathan and the Zydeco Cha-Chas will perform regional southern Louisiana dance music.
Cedric Watson, of Cedric Watson & Bijou Creole, is a four-time Grammy-nominated fiddler, singer and accordionist; Zydeco and Cajun specialists Rose and the Bros will also be performing in the Dance Tent.
Saturday’s headliner is a well-loved fixture on the festival scene – Grace Potter – who has performed with Neil Young, the Allman Brothers, Mavis Staples and Kenny Chesney. Spin magazine has described her as “one of the greatest living voices in rock today,” and her solo album Daylight was nominated for a Grammy in 2020 for best rock performance for the title track and best rock album, even though it includes classic country, piano ballads, blues and soul too.
Saturday also brings together two dynamic singer-songwriter-guitarists – Anders Osborne, honored as NOLA’s best guitarist and singer by Offbeat multiple times, and the Americana and roots music performer Jackie Greene, former lead guitarist for the Black Crowes and Trigger Hippy. Together, they will play bare-bones acoustic performances of each other’s songs. Both tour non-stop and sell out venues wherever they play. Bands who are called back to Rhythm & Roots again and again are the rockin’ Pine Leaf Boys, Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys and the eclectic Donna the Buffalo to play Saturday and Sunday.
On the final day of the festival, the legendary Little Feat will make Ninigret Park a stop on their Waiting For Columbus 45th Anniversary Tour, which marks their first live album and one of their most popular. Feat takes California rock, funk, folk, jazz, country, rockabilly, swamp boogie and more, and stirs it into a rich musical gumbo. The band has been leading people in joyful dance ever since it began in 1969.
The bluesy Samantha Fish, whose music incorporates multiple genres, including rock, country, funk, bluegrass and ballads, will join the renowned North Mississippi Allstars, which just released its 13th album Set Sail, displaying a stunning variety of roots music.
The Festival Update
Rhythm & Roots was canceled in 2020 by COVID, and returned last year thanks to a dedicated and enthusiastic community of music lovers, dancers, campers, food vendors, artisans and hundreds of volunteers. The 2022 festival almost didn’t happen because producer Chuck Wentworth became ill during the festival last year and doctors warned him to keep stress to a minimum.
Wentworth and his family made the tough decision to step away and cancel the festival. Multiple offers to buy Rhythm & Roots came quickly, and the choice landed with Hartford, Conn.-based GoodWorks Entertainment, led by CEO Tyler Grill. “We sold it to them because they were intent on keeping the 24-year legacy alive,” Wentworth said. “They’re not really changing anything major. Their philosophy mirrors that of Rhythm & Roots – that’s why they’re the perfect fit to take over.” The Wentworth family, which includes Chuck’s wife Deb, their three children and nine grandchildren, will remain involved.
We asked Rhythm & Roots fans to “keep the vibe alive” after last year’s cancellation, and you delivered. You had faith that we’d put together a diverse lineup for the 23rd Rhythm & Roots festival, and it was a great success.
It takes an extended family of hundreds of volunteers to produce a three-day festival of music, food and dancing, with 1,000+ campers, 24 bands and more than 40 performances on three stages. The jobs are big and small, but each task is essential. Artisans and food vendors, many of whom have been with us from the beginning, brought their own flair to the festival.
It was rewarding to see everyone working together – face to face! – for a common goal: to create a musical experience that will be remembered for years to come. A 2020 without Rhythm & Roots has made us even more grateful for your hard work and for the music lovers and dance enthusiasts who make R&R a ‘must-do’ every year. Thanks go to each one of you.
We’re already planning the 24th Rhythm & Roots Festival, set for Sept. 2, 3 and 4, 2022.
Let us know your favorites and any new bands you’d like to hear because roots music is constantly evolving. We’ll keep you informed as the lineup develops.
From Creole to Cajun, this one has it all. What, you need more? Fine, how about folk, funk and rock? This little jam hosted by our neighbors to the south gets back in action with sets from Donna the Buffalo, John Hiatt, local piano whiz Veronica Lewis, Ward Hayden & the Outliers and a score more.
Veronica Lewis. Photo courtesy artist management
Great news!! Rhythm & Roots Music, Dance and Food Festival
is happening on September 3, 4 and 5, 2021
at Ninigret Park in Charlestown RI
After a long dry year and a half without live music and festivals, we know you are as excited as we are to gather and celebrate, so make sure you’re not left out. Due to the probable state and local limited capacity mandates, tickets will be in short supply this year, so be sure to reserve your spot early, as our allotment of available tickets is limited and will most likely sell out.
So, this brings up the big question — how do we proceed to plan (and attend) a festival safely around the limitations necessitated by the Covid virus? For starters, we are adhering to the rules and regulations set forth by the State of Rhode Island for large events. These mandate that there will be a limited amount of attendees allowed on site, and that we follow guidelines for mask wearing, social distancing, hand washing and all of the other CDC protocols.
These rules are changing and loosening up every couple of weeks, and we are anticipating that the situation will be much more advantageous for the festival by the end of the summer. In our favor is our new governor, Daniel McKee, is an advocate of tourism and opening up the parameters for large events and festivals in the state. Whatever occurs though, our main concern will be the health and safety of all of our festival patrons. Please be assured that we will do whatever is necessary to keep everyone safe and secure.
Tickets go on sale May 12 at 10:00 am, so be sure to get yours ASAP! You don’t want to miss out, but tickets will be limited, and if you snooze, you may lose.Thanks! Stay safe, get vaccinated and we hope to see you on Labor Day Weekend! “Keep the Vibe Alive In 2021.”
R & R is Happening! Tickets on sale 10 a.m. May 12th
23rd Rhythm & Roots Festival Features Rhiannon Giddens & Francesco Turrisi, John Hiatt, Uprooted featuring Michael Glabicki of Rusted Root
Headliners Join Richard Thompson, Donna The Buffalo, and more Tickets on Sale May 12 for Labor Day Weekend Festival, Set for Sept. 3-5
CHARLESTOWN, R.I. –– Lagniappe Productions is thrilled to announce that the 23rd Rhythm & Roots Music, Dance, and Food Festival will resume Sept. 3-5 at Ninigret Park with many of the well-loved musicians who agreed to play last year.
“Fans have been ‘keeping the vibe alive’ since the festival was canceled in 2020,” said Chuck Wentworth, whose family-run Lagniappe Productions puts the festival together every year. “Live music eases our minds in troubled times. After the year we’ve just had, 2021 will be a real celebration – but a safe one.”
Rhode Island health and safety mandates require smaller crowds than in the past, so a limited number of tickets will go on sale at 10 a.m. on May 12 at rhythmandroots.com. The 2021 festival will spotlight Uprooted featuring Michael Glabicki of Rusted Root on Friday, Sept. 3, John Hiatt on Saturday, Sept. 4, and Rhiannon Giddens and Francesco Turrisi on Sunday, Sept. 5.
The Labor Day weekend festival brings together music fans, dancers, campers, and families for dozens of performances, food of every variety, artisans’ handmade wares, and a reunion-like vibe that’s been described as “chill but lively at the same time.”
Gates open at 4 p.m. Friday and noon on Saturday and Sunday, with performances starting one hour after opening through 11 p.m. Prices range from $49 for Friday night to $250 for three-day camping passes with full festival access. For the lineup, which is still evolving, and to buy tickets, visit rhythmandroots.com or call 401.783.3926.
Producer Chuck Wentworth, who is marking his 41st year in the music business, has signed most of the musicians who had planned to perform in 2020.
The acclaimed songwriter and guitarist Richard Thompson, who will perform Sunday, has influenced musicians as varied as Robert Plant, Don Henley, and David Byrne during his 50 years in the business. Traditionalists will enjoy Dirk Powell’s Appalachian-style banjo and fiddle, which earned him four Grammy awards. Performances are planned for both Saturday and Sunday. Fan favorites The Pine Leaf Boys, Donna the Buffalo,and The Revelers among many others, will also return.
Wentworth says a new generation of fans will especially enjoy Uprooted as well as guitarist and songwriter Keller Williams’ bluegrass/folk/reggae/electronica blend of acoustic dance music.
“I’m seeing more and more young people involved in the music scene,” Wentworth says. “The younger generation of musicians is just amazing, and they’re building on the musical traditions that came before them and adding this whole modern spin on it.”
Rhythm & Roots has always been about a blend of traditional and new, young and old, family reunions and hangouts with new friends. This mixture is based on a cultural appreciation seeded in Wentworth during multiple annual trips to Louisiana starting in the mid-1980s.
“I discovered that down there there’s an entire culture unto itself that’s unique, and that’s when I discovered it wasn’t just a music culture, it included music, dance, and family all rolled into one. I took all of that experience and tried to bring that into the festival.”
Wentworth says Friday’s headliner, Uprooted, will perform their multi-platinum album When I Woke in its entirety at Rhythm & Roots. Frontman Michael Glabicki has taken Rusted Root’s music, reinvented it, and added more percussion, female vocals, and new material. The previous band is best known for the jubilant, “Send Me On My Way,” featured in Ice Age and a dozen other films and TV shows.
John Hiatt, the prolific and influential guitarist, and piano player has earned nine Grammy nominations and has been writing songs professionally since he was 18. His country, rock, blues, and Americana music, set for Saturday night, has been recorded by artists as diverse as Iggy Pop and Rosanne Cash.
Rhiannon Giddens, well-loved by Rhythm & Roots fans for her work with the Carolina Chocolate Drops, is performing Sunday with Italian multi-instrumentalist Francesco Turrisi, who brings African and Arabic influences to Gidden’s classically trained voice and skilled banjo and fiddle playing. The pair just released They’re Calling Me Home, an album recorded in six days during the pandemic lockdown in Dublin that explores the music of their native and adoptive countries.
Straightforward traditional music, traditional-with-a-twist, or something entirely new – all will be showcased during the Labor Day weekend festival. Wentworth, who brings it all together each year with the help of hundreds of volunteers, is guided by his passion and a bit of manipulation.
He hopes to keep families coming so the children will be exposed to different kinds of music. The man who plays the blues to settle his grandson for a nap, says, “Even if they’re not consciously listening to it, it still filters in.”
To learn about the numerous additional bands signed for Rhythm & Roots, go to rhythmandroots.com.