Jamin’ on the Riverfront
Ninth annual RiverRoots Festival
offers diverse lineup,
folk arts, craft beer
Rusted Root to bring divergent sound to stage
(May 2014) – Having collaborated with one another for over two decades, Rusted Root has honed their distinct sound into a musical experience that is immediately recognizable to their fans. The band will be bringing its unique sound to the 2014 RiverRoots Music and Folk Arts Festival in Madison, Ind., in May as the Saturday night headline act. The two-day festival is scheduled for Friday-Saturday, May 16-17, on the Madison riverfront.
Bassist and vocalist Patrick Norman has been quoted as saying, “From the very first time we played music together, I knew we had something special.”
The band from Pittsburgh has recorded eight albums and sold more than 3 million records worldwide. Audiences of all ages have heard their music in various big screen films like “Ice Age,” “Twister” and “Matilda;” in TV shows like “New Girl,” “Ally McBeal,” “Charmed” and “Chuck,” and in Enterprise Rent-A-Car commercials.
RiverRoots Festival Schedule
Friday, May 16
• 5 p.m.: Gates and Folk Art Village open
• 6 p.m.: Jennie DeVoe
• 7:30 p.m.: Spirit Family Reunion
• 9:30 p.m.: The Black Lillies
• 6:45 p.m.: Troubadours of Divine Bliss
• 8:45 p.m.: Tim Grimm Band
Saturday, May 17
• 11 a.m.: Gates and Folk Art Village open
• 1 p.m.: Mike Mangione and the Union
• 3 p.m.: St. Paul and the Broken Bones
• 5 p.m.: Claire Lynch and Band
• 7 p.m.: Elephant Revival
• 9 p.m.: Rusted Root
• 2:15 p.m.: Shiny and the Spoon
• 4:15 p.m.: Farmer Jason (kids show)
• 6:15 p.m.: Yvette Landry, Richard Comeaux
• 8:15 p.m.: Wild Ponies
• Note: Also featuring a Folk Jammers Tent, Folk Art Village, Craft Beer Tent and Craft Beer Making Contest. Admission Wristbands: $20 for both days if purchased before May 1; then $25 for both days after May 1. Admission is $30 at the gate each day. Children 12-under free. Wristbands available online at www.RiverRoots.org or by calling (812) 265-2956 or 1-800-559-2956. Tickets also available at several Madison business locations.
Their music is a combination of a variety of different styles of music that draws from African, Latin American and even Native American influences. Rusted Root has hit the road with such names as Santana, Dave Matthews Band, The Allman Brothers Band, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page’s reunion tour.
Vocalist and percussionist Liz Berlin explained that each member of Rusted Root are drawn to and have explored virtually every form of music. “I am very inspired vocally by anything from Indian to African to Middle Eastern sounds and scales having grown up with a lot of Hebrew music,” she said.
Band founder, front man, songwriter, singer and guitarist Michael Glabicki looked to the Bee Gees, Elvis Costello, Neil Young, Tony Childs, Black Keys, Black Sabbath and various Afro Pop music as his biggest influences.
Between 1991 and 1995, Rusted Root recorded more than 40 tracks that only exist on rare bootlegs. In 1992 the band released “Cruel Sun” independently. By 1994 the group had signed with Mercury and released its platinum-selling breakthrough, “When I Woke.” This album produced the Top 40 hit “Send Me On My Way.”
In 2004 the band released the double album “Rusted Root Live” on its own Touchy Pegg label. This followed the re-release of the newly re-mastered “Cruel Sun” in 2003. Since the beginning, Rusted Root has toured endlessly, garnering a loyal following of fans.
The festival headliner band Rusted Root is an alternative bluegrass jam band that formed in 1990 in Pittsburgh. The band consists of (from left) Dirk Miller (guitar), Patrick Norman (bass, percussion), Michael Glabicki (vocals, guitar), Liz Berlin (percussion, vocals), and Preach Freedom (drums, percussion).
In Madison, Rusted Root will take its place on the Main Stage to close out the festival beginning at 9 p.m. Saturday. The ninth annual festival will be held at Madison Bicentennial Park on the Ohio Riverfront. The Main Stage is located in the southwest corner of the park.
The addition of a second stage (River Stage) last year on the grass on Vaughn Drive, east of the gazebo, provided continuous music throughout the weekend. The River Stage will be set up west of the Main Stage, overlooking the river near the gazebo.
Gates open both days one hour before the performances begin. Music starts at 6 p.m. Friday and at 1 p.m. Saturday. Also included in the festival will be Jam Tent workshops and Folk Art Village demonstrations.
The Folk Art Village will showcase artisans and craftsmen demonstrating pre-1800 craft skills. Artists will also be working “en plein air” and the Flying Hounds Frizbee team will perform.
Just within the last two years, “the Folk Art Village has grown and tripled in size,” said Greg Ziesemer, festival coordinator. “It’s come a long way in two years.”
Photo courtesy of Anne Staveley
Elephant Revival will perform
at 7 p.m. Saturday, May 17,
on the Main Stage. The band
consists of (from left) Sage Cook, Dango Rose, Bonnie Paine, Daniel Rodriguez and Bridget Law.
The Folk Art Village has expanded this year to include a sandcastle pit and bubble wand pool for kids. Kids 12 and under get in free, and Ziesemer and the festival committee has added a lot of new kids programs, noting this is a family-oriented event.
New to this year’s festival will be the fact that “this is the first time the children’s performers will go out into the community the week before to perform at schools,” Ziesemer said. “This will help promote the event.”
The Folk Art Village Jam Tent will allow musicians of all musical levels to perform together, experience different workshops and learn from each other. At 4:45 p.m. Saturday before they take the Main Stage for the final performance of the day, Rusted Root will hold a drum workshop that is open to the public.
Ziesemer guessed the workshop would be similar to a drum circle, where members of the band will use hand drums to teach technique and pattern. “They’ll play a song, build on it, and it will be very special,” he said.
Photo courtesy of Nick Ellis
Craft beer has become a popular commodity at the RiverRoots Festival, which even offers a contest for home beer makers as well as beers from many microbreweries.
Ziesemer described Rusted Root as a “roots-oriented jam band. They’re well-known, upbeat and have a high energy level. Even though they had their heyday 10 years ago, they’re still a viable act. Rusted Root represents where our festival is going.”
Next year will mark a decade for the RiverRoots Festival, and Ziesemer is already planning for it to be big. “I want it to be our best ever,” he said.
The 2013 festival brought in 5,000 people in two days, he said. “It was our best ever as far as attendees.” With the help of great weather, Ziesemer said he hopes this year’s festival will exceed that number.
“People come for the whole package,” he said. “We always have a diverse lineup of music – everything from bluegrass, country, roots, progressive to Cajun.”
He said The Black Lillies, Friday night’s headliner, “are really popular in Madison.” For this reason, he wanted to give them more exposure. They have appeared in the area and at the festival before.
The audience seems to love their songwriting and stage presence, he said. “Cruz Contreras is a terrific songwriter. Their music speaks to the people.”
In general, Ziesemer makes it a practice to not bring back a band two years in a row, but he made an exception with The Black Lillies because of their popularity in the area. “We want to keep the festival fresh and new and exciting every year. We want a diverse festival.”
Ziesemer credited the festival’s success to the “determination and creativity on the part of the committee members who put the festival together. They are always striving to grow, change and progress in terms of the format of the program. We never wanted to be stagnant or be stuck in the same pattern every year.”
Part of his goal is to provide a better customer experience each year so that attendees will tell others about the festival. Camping has improved, and there will be plenty of tent space to eat under to get out of the sun or rain.
There will only be one or two food truck vendors this year. Rather, food will be sold on a cash basis directly by vendors. Ziesemer said he hopes this will cut down on standing in line to wait for food.
Returning to the RiverRoots Festival this year will be the third annual RiverRoots Brew-Off competition, which is open to all home brewers. Craft beer has been a part of the annual festival since its beginning, said Don Clapham, RiverRoots Craft Beer Coordinator. “It’s been highlighted more each year.”
The Craft Beer division of the festival has received a beer tent sponsorship from the Brewers of Indiana Guild. “Since this is the only festival featuring Indiana craft beer, they were willing to help this year,” said Clapham. “The festival as a whole relies heavily on sponsorship.”
He thinks the festival is perfectly timed to showcase craft beer activities because it “falls on National American Craft Beer Week (May 12-18).” American Craft Beer Week is an annual celebration of small, independent craft brewers, their craft and the American beer culture.
In an effort to highlight this, the week before the festival has been declared Madison Craft Beer Week. “We thought we’d take advantage of a week of activities leading up to the festival,” said Clapham.
Special craft beer related activities will be held to highlight craft beers from the festival at local restaurants. On Tuesday, May 13, the Key West Shrimp House will feature a beer and food pairing with the Great Crescent Brewery. On Wednesday, May 14, The 605 Grille will offer a beer and food pairing with the Power House Brewery. On Thursday, May 16, The Boneyard Grill will play host to the RiverRoots kickoff event with live music and a beer and food pairing with the New Albanian Brewery.
Five Indiana microbreweries with 15 different brews will be at the RiverRoots Festival this year. A special “Tap Room Only Kegs” in the Craft Beer Tent will be periodically available to allow festival goers to experience beers normally reserved only for those who visit the breweries themselves.
The third annual RiverRoots Brew-Off competition will be held for the makers of craft beer. The chosen style for this year’s competition is American Ale. Three sub categories will be: American Pale Ale, American Amber Ale and American Brown Ale.
This competition has become quite popular, said Clapham. Prizes will be awarded and the judges are certified through the Beer Judging Certification Program’s style guidelines. These judges know the styles, faults and “give a lot of good feedback,” he said.
Clapham said, “Most home brewers are seeking feedback from judges.” He said people have sent beers from as far away as Connecticut and from several homebrew clubs, such as one in New Albany of which he is a member.
From 2-4 p.m. Saturday, a special meet and greet session will be held for home brewers behind the Craft Beer Tent, giving them a chance to share recipes and their enthusiasm for craft beer.
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