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RiverRoots Festival

Tenth annual RiverRoots Festival
offers diverse lineup

The Wood Brothers to be headline act on Saturday night

May 2015 Cover

(May 2015) – With the advantage of a sibling connection, it seems as if Chris and Oliver Wood might have always bonded over music. Their careers took different paths, but ultimately it was their Americana music roots that pulled them back together.
From their early childhood days in Boulder, Colo., the brothers were immersed in American roots music. Their father, who was a molecular biologist, often performed classic songs at camp fires and family gatherings, encouraging them with his vocal talents. Their mother was a poet, and instilled in them a love for words and expressing thoughts and emotions.
The Wood Brothers are scheduled to perform as the Saturday night headliner for the 10th annual RiverRoots Music & Folk Art Festival, May 15-16 in Madison, Ind. The band will perform at 9:30 p.m. on the Main Stage. The festival will be held at Madison, Indiana’s Bicentennial Park on the riverfront.
“I’ve been trying to get them for over three years,” said Greg Ziesemer, RiverRoots event coordinator. He described them as “a high energy band on the rise. They’re a very danceable band-a lot of fun.”

RiverRoots Festival Schedule

Friday, May 15
Main Stage
• 5 p.m.:
 Gates and Folk Art Village open
• 6 p.m.: The Tillers
• 7:30 p.m.: Haunted Windchimes 
• 9:30 p.m.: Scythian
River Stage
• 6:45 p.m.: Andra Faye & Scott Ballantine
• 8:45 p.m.: Run Boy Run

Saturday, May 16
Main Stage

• 1 p.m.: Gates and Folk Art Village open
• 2:30 p.m.: Willie Watson
• 4 p.m.: Michael Cleveland and Flamekeepers
• 5:30 p.m.: John Fullbright
• 7:30 p.m.: The Duhks
• 9:30 p.m.: The Wood Brothers
River Stage
• 1:45 p.m.: Nick Dittmeier
• 3:15 p.m.: Lily and Madeleine
• 4:45 p.m.: Joe Crookston
• 6:45 p.m.: Michael Kelsey
• 8:45 p.m.: Small Time Napoleon

• Note: Also featuring a Folk Jammers Tent, Folk Art Village, Craft Beer Tent and Craft Beer Making Contest.
• Admission Wristbands: $25 for both days if purchased before May 1; then $35 for both days after May 1. Admission is $25 Friday or $30 Saturday at the gate. 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.

Chris and Oliver pursued separate musical careers for 15 years before their musical paths crossed at a show in North Carolina. Before this, Oliver had moved to Atlanta and founded King Johnson, a hard-touring group that released six albums of R&B, funk and country sounds over a 12-year period.
Meanwhile, Chris had been studying jazz bass at the New England Conservatory of Music. He moved to New York City and formed Medeski, Martin & Wood in the early 1990s, performing a mix of contemporary jazz and abstract music.
Ironically, they performed together years later one night when Oliver sat in with Medeski, Martin & Wood following his own band’s (King Johnson’s) opening set. Chris was quoted as saying about this experience, “I realized we should be playing music together.”
Relying upon Oliver’s songwriting skills and Chris’s forward-thinking musical abilities, the brothers recorded a demo that landed them a recording contract with Blue Note Records. Chris plays upright bass, while Oliver plays acoustic and electric guitars.

Photo provided

The Wood Brothers, originally from Boulder, Colo., feature Chris Wood on upright bass and his older brother, Oliver, on guitar. The duo, along with drummer Jano Rix (not pictured), will be the Saturday night headliner act at the RiverRoots Festival.

In 2006 they released their debut album, “Ways Not To Lose.” National Public Radio described it as a collection of “gracious little songs (that) sound like they were born on a front porch during a beautiful sunset.”
John Medeski produced their first studio album, “Ways Not to Lose.” It had been recorded at Allaire Studios in Shokan, N.Y., in September 2005 and released one year later. “Ways Not to Lose” was the Amazon.com editors’ No. 1 pick in folk music for the year 2006. The album also made National Public Radio’s “Overlooked 11” of 2006.
“Loaded” was their follow-up album, released in 2008, with “Up Above My Head” released in 2009. The band decided to move to Nashville’s Southern Ground Artists before recording “Smoke Ring Halo,” and 2012’s “Live, Volume One: Sky High and Live” and “Volume Two: Nail and Tooth.”
Together, they have recorded many albums before a live audience. For “Smoke Ring Halo,” the musicians played in separate rooms. Legendary country musician and award-winning producer Buddy Miller produced this album, and Nashville studio veteran Mike Poole was the album’s engineer. Miller produced a second album for The Wood Brothers in 2013 titled, “The Muse.”

Photo provided

Bluegrass fiddler Michael Cleveland (center) will perform at 4 p.m. Saturday, May 16, at the RiverRoots Festival with his band, Flamekeepers.

By this time they had been joined by a third member, drummer and multi-instrumentalist Jano Rix. Rix has become known for his percussion instrument, the “Shuitar,” an acoustic guitar rigged up with tuna cans and various noisemakers.
In the years since the RiverRoots festival began, the festival site has gone from a gravel parking lot to what is now Bicentennial Park. “It has changed a lot in diversity and dynamics,” Ziesemer said. “There is more variety in the music and the artists.”
The addition of a Kickoff Party, where attendees can purchase food and drinks while listening to two additional bands, is something organizers hope will become popular. “Locals or anybody coming into town the night before will be able to take advantage of this great show, setting the tone for the weekend,” said Charlie Rohlfing, who handles marketing for RiverRoots.   
A Kickoff Party for the RiverRoots festival will be held from 6:30-11 p.m. Thursday, May 14, at the Boneyard Grill, 513 Clifty Dr., in Madison. The featured bands will be The Bumper Jacksons and The Great Wide Open. The first band will take the stage at 7 p.m.

Photo provided

Oklahoma native John Fullbright plays piano and guitar and writes many of his own songs. He will perform at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, May 16, at the RiverRoots Festival.

A large tent will be set up in the parking lot with “lots of fanfare,” Rohlfing said. Admission will be a festival wristband, making this event actually part of the festival. For anyone not having a wristband, they will be sold at the Boneyard Grill at a $5 discounted price of $20 for Friday, $25 for Saturday and $30 for a weekend pass. “Tickets will be the cheapest at that point,” he said.
“This is the first time we’ve ever offered day passes. At $20, you might as well go ahead and go for a $30 weekend pass,” Rohlfing said.
Ziesemer said organizers wanted to make people who could only come one day or night feel welcome. “If one day is all you could do, you can still feel like you’re getting a full dose of the festival at a reduced rate,” he said.
Rohlfing said Thursday’s music is a good for out-of-towners since they can “come on in and get settled.” He hopes the Thursday night kickoff will energize the Friday and Saturday shows.
For the first time, a VIP pass can be purchased this year, said Ziesemer. These passes, of which there are only 100 available, guarantee premium seating adjacent to the stage and access to a VIP tent with catered beer, wine and food vendors. For $150, “you can walk into the festival not carrying a thing,” and have a great time, he said.

Photo provided

The Haunted Windchimes band will perform at 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 15, at the RiverRoots Festival in Madison, Ind. They draw sounds from traditional folk and American roots music.

For the past six or seven years, the RiverRoots organizing committee has worked on a membership drive. Proceeds go to the non-profit 501c(3) Ohio River Valley Folk Society, the entity behind RiverRoots, which was created four years ago. “We hit a record $12,000 last year,” said Ziesemer.
He said sponsors are a huge part of the success of RiverRoots. “We wouldn’t have a festival without our sponsors.” From renting equipment to installing infrastructure, the festival incurs large financial expenses to put on each year. “Every dollar counts,” Ziesemer said.
A new addition to this year’s festival is an area at the back of the venue (behind Balcony Row tents) for pop-up shelters. Cost is $20 and a wristband.
Camping is allowed in Fireman’s Park, less than two blocks from the main venue. A limited number of RV spots are available along Vaughn Drive.
The fourth annual RiverRoots Brew-Off contest will return to this year’s festival. Open to all home brewers, beers will be judged according to Beer Judge Certification Program Style Guidelines.
The 2015 Style is Belgian and French Ale. Categories include Witbier, Belgian Pale Ale, Saison, Biere de Garde and Belgian Specialty Ale. Winners will be announced on stage on May 16 following a Meet and Greet.
The Meet and Greet will be held from 2-4 p.m. behind the Craft Beer Tent. It is a fun opportunity for home brewers to meet and share home brew, swap recipes and get to know one another while listening to some great music, organizers say. Information on the contest and Meet and Greet are available at the festival website.

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