One of the biggest music events in New England to take place on Labor Day weekend, the Rhythm & Roots Festival, returns to Ninigret Park in Charlestown with a hotter-than-ever roots music lineup. Selected as one of the “Top 100 Events in North America” by the American Bus Association, the festival attracts people from over 24 states with its multiple performance stages, intimate workshops with artists, Cajun and Zydeco dance instruction and family activities set within what can only be described as an impromptu town in the park.
During the festival, Ninigret Park becomes transformed into a colorful arts and musical celebration for all ages, complete with regional food vendors, shopping, camping and activities for children and teens. The state park possesses a swimming pond, state-of-the-art playground, picnic tables and camping on site as well as in the nearby town centers of Charlestown and Westerly.
Last year, the Workshop Stage was replaced by the Heritage Stage, an added performance stage. This year, the popular Workshop Stage returns and the Heritage Stage remains adding to the Main Stage, Dance Stage and Family Stage for five great stages of music.
The full-bodied lineup of iconic and upcoming musicians includes national acts that are known for their excellence in blues, New Orleans R&B, swing, Americana, Cajun, Zydeco and folk genres. This year, the festival features a Gulf Coast theme (also known within musical circles as the “third coast”). Over 30 bands will be coming on a “Rhode trip” from cities like Fayetteville, Austin, New Orleans, San Antonio, Los Angeles and Memphis to name just a few.
Festival producer Chuck Wentworth says that the Friday night lineup is meant to showcase new talent to the festival, by featuring vibrantly dynamic artists that have been lauded as groundbreaking talent in American music. Phoebe Hunt, Yvette Landry, Cedric Watson and Holly Williams (granddaughter of Hank Williams Sr.) will be lighting up the festival stages from noon until midnight Saturday.
The Saturday night musical program is a further unfolding of the “Third Coast Vibe,” with Carolina Chocolate Drops, Della Mae, Marcia Ball and Steve Earle and the Dukes & Duchesses providing highly-anticipated performances on two stages. Perennial favorites, Steve Riley and Mamou Playboys – who incidentally will also be celebrating their 25th anniversary – will be rousing the audience with many surprise guests as they thrill the main stage on Saturday.
Taj Mahal, a roots music icon, will be headlining the Sunday night lineup, which has been dubbed “living legends day” by Wentworth.
“Taj has been sought after from day one, and this year he will be kicking off a celebration that culminates Sunday night with Jim Kweskin Jug Band’s 50th Anniversary Reunion Tour. Jim Kweskin, joined by Maria Muldaur, Geoff Muldaur and Bill Keith will be having their only east coast appearance right here,” said Wentworth.
Other notable acts Sunday include Jason Will, often called the “second coming of Jerry Lee Lewis by his piano expertise and energetic playing style.
“Will may be the surprise hit of the fest,” Wentworth said.
The 16th Annual Rhythm & Roots Festival, 4890A Old Post Rd., Charlestown, will run from Aug. 30 through Sept. 1. Tickets run between $40 to $200.
For more information visit www.rhythmandroots.
com or call 888-855-6940.