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Rhythm & Roots Festival: You Asked For It, You Got Taj Mahal, Steve Earle
By: Lagniappe Productions
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-
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 Helms 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 40th anniversary,"
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-
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/
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/
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