RiverRoots Festival

Headliner Carll sings
‘fiery’ country-folk

New name, microbrew contest add variety
to Madison’s seventh annual folk festival

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

2012 May Edition Cover

May 2012 Edition Cover

MADISON, Ind. (May 2012) – Hayes Carll hit a milestone in his relatively young career when he penned some songs for the hit movie, “Country Strong.”
Known for his twangy country, pensive folk and sometimes fiery rock sound, Carll has been belting out the hits and pleasing mixed crowds for quite some time.
Now he is bringing his unique sound to Madison, Ind. Carll will serve as the Saturday night headliner at 9 p.m. for the RiverRoots Music and Folk Arts Festival, which runs from Friday through Sunday, May 18-20, at Madison’s Bicentennial Park on the riverfront. Carll will join Over the Rhine and The Band of Heathens, among others, at the this seventh annual event presented by an all-volunteer committee working under the auspices of VisitMadison Inc.
Carll originally hails from The Woodlands, Texas, a suburb of Houston. At age 15, he got his first guitar. His songwriting has been influenced by Bob Dylan, Kris Kristofferson, John Prine, Jack Kerouac and Dead Poets Society.
In 1998, it seemed Carll might take a different path in life when he graduated from Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas with a degree in History. But after graduating, he moved to Crystal Beach, Texas where he often performed his own songs at local bars.

Carll then moved to Austin, and from there he returned home to The Woodlands. After developing an impressive following, he signed a one-record contract with Compadre Records, releasing his debut album, “Flowers and Liquor,” in 2002.
His second album, “Little Rock,” was released under his own label, Highway 87 Records. This became the first self-released album to reach No. 1 on the Americana music charts. By May 2006, he had signed with Lost Highway Records.
Carll’s impressive career doesn’t end there. He has penned songs with Ray Wylie Hubbard, Guy Clark, Bobby Bare Jr. and Darrell Scott. He was presented with an Americana Music Award in 2008.

RiverRoots Logo

Festival Schedule

Friday, May 18
• 5 p.m.:
 Gates and Folk Art Village open
• 6 p.m.: Carolyn Martin  
• 8 p.m.: Searson  
• 10 p.m.: The Band of Heathens

Saturday, May 19
• 11 a.m.:
Gates and Folk Art Village open
• Noon: Songwriters’ Joe Crookston with Peter Glanville Workshop
• 1 p.m.: Jam Session
• 1 p.m.: Joe Crookston with Peter Glanville
• 2-6 p.m.: Rivers Institute Traveling Exhibit opens
• 2:30 p.m.: Jim Cruise, a.k.a. The Spoonman (in the Storyteller Tent)
• 3 p.m.: Roosevelt Dime
• 4:30 p.m.: Jim Cruise (Storyteller Tent)
• 5 p.m.: Charlie Parr
• 6:30 p.m.: Jim Cruise (Storyteller Tent)
• 7 p.m.: Over the Rhine
• 8:30 p.m.: Jim Cruise (Storyteller Tent)
• 9 p.m.: Hayes Carll         

Sunday, May 20
• 12:30 p.m.:
• 1:45 p.m.: Michael Kelsey
• 3 p.m.: Whiskey Bent Valley Boys
• 4:30 p.m.: The Black Lillies

Admission Wristbands: $25 entire weekend; $15 Friday; $20 Saturday; $10 Sunday. Available online at www.RiverRoots.org or by calling (812) 265-2956 or 1-800-559-2956.

In January 2011, Carll released “KMAG YOYO (& other American stories).” The Americana Music Association announced that this was the No. 1 most played Americana album for last year.
Performers for RiverRoots were selected in a variety of ways, including word-of-mouth, a five-person committee and through the Folk Alliance, said the festival’s event coordinator Greg Ziesemer.
The festival has undergone a name change since last year, when it was previously known as the Ohio River Valley Folk Festival. Ziesemer said the name change was due to a variety of reasons. The original title was “a mouthful of words. I wanted to be more succinct,” he said.
“When you say ‘RiverFest,’ it’s one word and people immediately know what it stands for.” This was the concept he was going for with the name change to the RiverRoots Festival. He kept the word river because “that’s where we do it, near the Ohio River.”
Ziesemer also felt that “the term ‘folk music’ was not really accurate with what we do; it’s only a part of it. ‘Roots music’ is the contemporary term for folk music. There’s a lot of diversity now. We’re doing so much more progressive and modern music.”

Hayes Carll

Photo provided

Hayes Carll is a rising star
from Woodlands, Texas.

This will be Ziesemer’s first full official year as the event coordinator. A musician himself, he took over midway last year after festival founder and chairman John Walburn died, leaving behind some “big shoes to fill,” said Ziesemer. When someone gave him the advice to “make your own shoes,” Ziesemer decided to give it a try. “I want to honor the original founders.”
He was actually nominated for the job. “I didn’t volunteer,” he said. “It never occurred to me to take this job in the first place. People on the selection committee and in the community came to me and asked me to do it.”
Ziesemer said it has been a real challenge to organize what he labeled a “multi-dimensional cultural event.” For anyone who has never been to the RiverRoots Festival, Ziesemer summed it up as a family-friendly event with three days of music comprised of a variety of styles and genres. “It’s a diverse festival,” he said. A folk craft village, storytelling, music workshops and demonstrators lend an air of educational experience to the event.
New to this year’s festival will be an increased and improved sound system. A family-friendly arts and crafts tent will be set up where children can make crafts. The event will include a celebration of the ancient art of craft brew making and a microbrewery competition.

Greg Ziesemer

"I think organizers have the intuition to “put their finger on the pulse of what is happening in modern music."
– Festival Coordinator Greg Ziesemer

Donnie Clapham and Nick Ellis are organizing a microbrewery competition for the festival. This will be the first time for the RiverRoots Brew-Off competition, even though “we’ve always had microbreweries there,” said Clapham. The competition will take place May 20 and is restricted to non-commercial brewers.
He said the competition was brought in to accompany the craft beer part of the festival and also aided in the celebration of American Craft Beer Week, May 14-20. Five craft breweries will be represented.
Clapham got into craft beer brewing three years ago because it was “always on my list of things to do when I retired,” he said. Clapham retired from the post office “and got actively involved.” His brother used to make craft beer.
Craft beer differs in its taste and has a fuller flavor. It’s a lot more diverse than regular store-bought beers,” said Clapham.
“What barbecue is to (Madison) Ribberfest, the craft brew is to RiverRoots,” said Ziesemer, referring to the city’s mid-August blues festival. Organizers hope to some day have a sanctioned home brewers competition. Judging will be done according to BJCP Style Guidelines and will be based on four categories: English IPA, American IPA, Imperial IPA and Specialty IPA. Ribbons will be presented for the Best of Show and announced on stage before the final performances by the Black Lillies at 4:30 p.m. Sunday.
A home brew demonstration will be held at 1:30 p.m. Saturday next to the beer tent. The demonstration will be given by local brewer Ryan Heath and his father, Dave. “They’re serious about home brew,” said Clapham. The Heaths and Clapham are both members of the Fossils, a local home brew club. Members from this club will judge the competition.

Over the Rhine

Photo provided

Over the Rhine
consists of singers
Linford Detweiler
and Karin Bergquist.
The couple has been
married for 15 years
and has toured
together for more
than 20 years.

Future goals for the festival will be considered after “we make sure this one goes off well,” said Ziesemer. A committee meeting will be held in June to discuss the festival. Ziesemer said he is “possibly considering adding a small second stage for local and regional artists.”
The RiverRoots Festival became incorporated as a 501(c)(3) corporation this year. This will provide organizers with more opportunities to apply for grants.
Currently, the festival is funded primarily by corporate sponsors. Additional funding comes from generous donations and membership in the Ohio Valley Folk Society. “Membership is incredibly important,” Ziesemer said.
Additional income to meet annual festival expenses comes from the sale of wristbands and a percentage of food and beer sales. Ziesemer would like to have extra funding to incorporate a naturalist or nature-oriented things into the 2013 festival.
The festivals strength is in the musical lineup, that includes “top quality talent,” he said. Ziesemer said he wants the festival to be remembered as one with foresight when it comes to band selection. He said he thinks organizers have the intuition to “put their finger on the pulse of what is happening in modern music.”
He said the RiverRoots Festival committee works with about 200 volunteers throughout the weekend of the festival. Volunteers do a variety of jobs including watching the gate, selling T-shirts to working the beer tents.
When it comes to the weekend lineup, Ziesemer said, “We’re very privileged and excited to have Hayes Carll and also Over the Rhine. They’re an iconic-based band from Cincinnati.”


Photo provided

The band, Searson, is made up
of three sisters from Ontario,
Canada – Erin, Heather
and Colleen Searson.

Ziesemer and his wife, Kris Luckett, perform throughout the region as a musical duo but will not be performing at this year’s festival. Ziesemer doesn’t think it “appropriate that we perform since I’m running the event this year. There are plenty of other great people to showcase.”
One of these acts will be The Band of Heathens, the Friday night headliner band that will play at 10 p.m. “They’re one of the secret surprises,” Ziesemer said.
The Black Lillies, who will perform Sunday afternoon, “are awesome,” he said. “I saw them perform in Memphis.”
Ziesemer wants the festival to be known as the place where it all began. Years from now, when a band has made it big, you can look back and say, ‘I saw them at the RiverRoots festival,’ “ he said.
He cited the Carolina Chocolate Drops, an African American String Band, as a great example of what direction he’d like the festival to go in. When they were brought to the festival, the band was a crowd favorite in 2009. The following year the band won a Grammy award.

Back to May 2012 Articles.



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