By DON FOWLER
Rhythm and Roots promoter Chuck Wentworth has pulled another coupe. This time he landed popular actor/musician Hugh Laurie to headline his Rhythm and Roots Festival Saturday night, Sept. 1, at Ninigret Park in Charleston.
The festival, which we have never missed, has been one of the biggest music festivals in Rhode Island for years, thanks to the variety of Cajun, Zydeco, jazz, Tex-Mex, blues and roots artists who come to the attractive site from all over the world.
Not only will Laurie’s name attract fans, but those who know their music also know that he is much more than the popular actor on TV’s “House.” Laurie is an accomplished pianist and singer and has surrounded himself with first-class musicians.
Hugh Laurie and the Copper Bottom Band have appeared on Jay Leno and will be returning from a whirlwind trip to Russia, Ireland, England, France, the Ukraine, Germany and other cities around the world before landing in the woods of Southern Rhode Island.
The popular Pine Leaf Boys will again be the host band this summer. Perennial favorites Steve Riley, Gino Delafose, Donna the Buffalo, the David Bromberg Band and Rhode Island’s own Johnny Nicholas return, along with a number of new and interesting performers.
Wentworth has come a long way since the early days of the Cajun and Bluegrass Festivals in Escoheag, where he introduced new and upcoming future stars like Natalie McMaster to his involvement in the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival in the Catskills, which has been named one of the 10 best Bluegrass Festivals by “US News and World Report.”
Wentworth also joined with Sal’s Promotions six years ago to produce the popular Bayou n’ Boogie Festivals on Memorial Day weekend. This year’s event was held at the Sterling Park Campground in nearby Sterling, Conn., just over the Rhode Island border at the Rice City line. (I thought I was in the backwoods of Maine).
Rhythm and Roots always draws a big crowd from all over New England. I’m telling you about it earlier this year because the lineup promises a bigger-than-usual crowd.
Tickets range from $25-$175, depending on how early you buy, how many days you attend (continuous music from 5 p.m. to midnight Friday, and Saturday and Sunday from noon to midnight). There is camping available, free parking, activities for the kids, dance lessons, craft booths, four stages of music and two dance floors and loads of great food. Check them out online at www.rhythmandroots.com or call 1-888-855-6940.