Folk Village, Jam Tent among
added attractions at RiverRoots
Festival gives people a glimpse at
some traditional trades
(May 2015) – Although best known for its musical diversity and exciting lineups, the RiverRoots Music and Folk Arts Festival on May 15-16 in Madison, Ind., is made up of more than just music. It is a combination of music, arts, drama and education along with traditional festival food and drink, all rolled into one weekend.
The Folk Art Village is a world all of its own. Here festival-goers can find a historical perspective of life in the 1800s and experience a variety of 19th century demonstrations by traditional artisans such as blacksmithing, fiddle making, cabin building, wool dying, muzzle loading rifles, Windsor chair making and wood carved items.
Rhonda Deeg is one of a committee of four who organize the Folk Art Village. The committee meets almost every month out of the year to provide a spectacular hands-on area for festival-goers of all ages every May.
From left, Jam Tent musicians Ron Moore, Darrell House (standing), Dave Wootan, John Sheckler and Papa Joe Kretschmer strike a chord at last year's RiverRoots.
Deeg, an artisan herself and Director of Programs for Historic Madison Inc., said she became involved in the Folk Art Village aspect when asked three years ago. She had already been attending the event as an artisan.
The comment she hears the most from attendees is how “the committee has built (the Folk Art Village section) up to be very hands-on,” said Deeg. “We have a traditional artisan part where you can see how things used to be made, and also learn how things are still done today.”
The Arts ’n Action area of the Folk Art Village is set up for demonstrating artisans to showcase their talents. Examples include pottery, needlecraft by Anne Fairchild, stained glass, polymer clay by Dark Pony Art, traditional gourd instruments by Sticks & Stones and the Madison Plein Air Painters.
The ARTS ’N Action area is “really for kids and families,” said Deeg. In addition to demonstrations, “they can come in and make and take items. It’s a very interactive type of area.”
Parents can feel safe bringing their children to this area of the festival, said Deeg. “Parents can go to the Main Stage while their kids do art work or play in the sand. Parents can go back and forth to check on their kids and feel safe.”
A variety of handmade crafts will be for sale from folk art vendors. On display will be kiln fired clay pendants from Maggie’s Farm, tie-dye clothing from Terra Tree Studio, glass marbles and pendants from Made With Fire, handmade soaps from All Good Things Soap, hand bags from Bags and Bobbles, unique clothing designs from Goddessware and henna face painting from the Bohemian Monkey. The latter is really “body art,” Deeg said.
The Folk Art Village is an explosion of fun. To mark this year’s 10th anniversary of the RiverRoots Festival, Neusole Glassworks will bring its mobile hot shop, a 24-foot glass blowing studio, to the festival. Based in Cincinnati, Neusole Glass-works is devoted to creating and promoting glass art. The Folk Art Village is made possible by sponsor River Valley Financial Bank.
This year, “the Jam Tent is jam-packed,” said Deeg. The Folk Jammer Tent showcases performances and workshops. The Jam Tent opens at 5 p.m. Friday, with the last performance scheduled for 8:30 p.m.
The Friday night lineup includes a Jamming 101 workshop lead by Larry Wayt, a leader in the eastern Indiana jam community centered in Metamora, Ind. This workshop, titled, “Playing Well With Others,” is an educated outline of proper behavior in a jam circle.
The Jam Tent features a full lineup of acts throughout all of Saturday as well. And a full lineup of bands are scheduled to perform on the River Stage, culminating in a performance by Small Time Napoleon at 8:45 p.m.
The evening will end with a performance by Darrell House and Sagebrush Reunion. House is a Florida children’s author and patio performer who will also give a children’s performance at 1:15 p.m. Saturday. He will perform his book, “The King of Fish,” along with other songs and poems written for children. Sagebrush Reunion is comprised of members of a bluegrass band from the 1970s.
On Saturday, things kick off in the Jam Tent at 11 a.m. as soon as the gates open. Main Stage Friday night performers Haunted Wind Chimes will lead off at noon showcasing its traditional folk and American roots music.
Slam poet Ian French will follow Darrell House’s performance on Saturday afternoon. French, who goes by the name IF, is a winner of the 2013 Buffalo International Slam, frequently leads workshops and has appeared at numerous festivals. After his performance at RiverRoots, he will travel to Paris for the slam poets World Championships.
Joe Crookston is an artist, writer, singer, guitar player, painter and hammer banjo player from Ithaca, N.Y. He conducts songwriting workshops and retreats and tours regularly in the United States, Canada and Ireland.
Willie Watson, former member of the Old Crow Medicine Show, is also a scheduled performer on Saturday in the Jam Tent. He is known for taking the skeletons of classic songs and breathing a new life into them.
Russ Embry, a well-known dulcimer teacher in Louisville and southern Indiana, will be available with other dulcimer players to help beginner dulcimers in the Jam Tent Quiet areas. Embry has taught at several area festivals, including Ohio Valley Gathering, Heartland and Corydon Spring Mill Retreat.
Local re-enactor Dakota Phillips will wonder throughout the Folk Art Village both days giving portrayals of Daniel Boone and Casey Jones. He will give short presentations in the Jam Tent at random times.
The addition of a second, smaller River Stage in 2013 provided more musical exposure for festival-goers. It is located on the grass on Vaughn Drive east of the gazebo, providing a second location for continuous music.
“In 2012 we went from one stage and eight bands for both days to doubling in size in three years and adding a Thursday night kickoff party,” said festival coordinator Greg Ziesemer. “This year we have the most bands we’ve ever had, 18.”
Entertainment will begin on the River Stage on Friday at 6:45 p.m. with Andra Faye and Scott Ballantine, followed by Run Boy Run at 8:45 p.m. Faye is originally from Indianapolis and hails from a diverse musical upbringing. She also teaches vocals and gives lessons, and is a stained glass artist.
The River Stage will start rocking at 1:45 p.m. Saturday with Nick Dittmeier, followed by Lily and Madeleine (a sister act), at 3:15 p.m. Next to take the stage will be Joe Crookston at 4:45 p.m., then Michael Kelsey at 6:45 p.m. The day’s lineup will culminate in a performance by Small Time Napoleon at 8:45 p.m.
The last band to perform, Small Time Napoleon, has a sound described as a mix of western swing, hot jazz and folk rock tunes. Laura Shine, Assistant Program Director and On-Air Host at WFPK said of this Louisville, Ky.-based quartet, “They are truly one of the most unique and exciting bands I’ve seen come out of Louisville in a very long time. Their music and instrumentation and vocals are Exquisite.”
There is a reason RiverRoots is known as a Music and Folk Art Festival. This event lets attendees hear, see and taste all that southern Indiana has to offer.
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