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Lagniappe Productions today announced that the 23rd Rhythm & Roots Music, Dance, and Food Festival will resume Sept. 3-5 at Ninigret Park with many of the musicians who agreed to play last year.

“Fans have been ‘keeping the vibe alive’ since the festival was canceled in 2020,” said Chuck Wentworth in a statement, whose family-run Lagniappe Productions puts the festival together every year. “Live music eases our minds in troubled times. After the year we’ve just had, 2021 will be a real celebration – but a safe one.”

Lagniappe Productions says in a press release that Rhode Island health and safety mandates require smaller crowds than in the past, so a limited number of tickets will go on sale at 10 a.m. on May 12 at rhythmandroots.com.

The 2021 festival will spotlight Uprooted featuring Michael Glabicki of Rusted Root on Friday, Sept. 3, John Hiatt on Saturday, Sept. 4, and Rhiannon Giddens and Francesco Turrisi on Sunday, Sept. 5.

The Labor Day weekend festival brings together music fans, dancers, campers, and families for dozens of performances, food of every variety, artisans’ handmade wares, and a reunion-like vibe that’s been described as “chill but lively at the same time.”

Gates open at 4 p.m. Friday and noon on Saturday and Sunday, with performances starting one hour after opening through 11 p.m. Prices range from $49 for Friday night to $250 for three-day camping passes with full festival access. For the lineup, which is still evolving, and to buy tickets, visit rhythmandroots.com or call 401.783.3926.

Producer Chuck Wentworth, who is marking his 41st year in the music business, has signed most of the musicians who had planned to perform in 2020.

The acclaimed songwriter and guitarist Richard Thompson, who will perform Sunday, has influenced musicians as varied as Robert Plant, Don Henley, and David Byrne during his 50 years in the business. Traditionalists will enjoy Dirk Powell’s Appalachian-style banjo and fiddle, which earned him four Grammy awards. Performances are planned for both Saturday and Sunday. Fan favorites The Pine Leaf Boys, Donna the Buffalo,and The Revelers among many others, will also return.

Wentworth says a new generation of fans will especially enjoy Uprooted as well as guitarist and songwriter Keller Williams’ bluegrass/folk/reggae/electronica blend of acoustic dance music. 

“I’m seeing more and more young people involved in the music scene,” Wentworth says. “The younger generation of musicians is just amazing, and they’re building on the musical traditions that came before them and adding this whole modern spin on it.”

Rhythm & Roots has always been about a blend of traditional and new, young and old, family reunions and hangouts with new friends. This mixture is based on a cultural appreciation seeded in Wentworth during multiple annual trips to Louisiana starting in the mid-1980s.

“I discovered that down there there’s an entire culture unto itself that’s unique, and that’s when I discovered it wasn’t just a music culture, it included music, dance, and family all rolled into one. I took all of that experience and tried to bring that into the festival.”

Wentworth says Friday’s headliner, Uprooted, will perform their multi-platinum album When I Woke in its entirety at Rhythm & Roots. Frontman Michael Glabicki has taken Rusted Root’s music, reinvented it, and added more percussion, female vocals, and new material. The previous band is best known for the jubilant, “Send Me On My Way,” featured in Ice Age and a dozen other films and TV shows.

John Hiatt, the prolific and influential guitarist, and piano player has earned nine Grammy nominations and has been writing songs professionally since he was 18. His country, rock, blues, and Americana music, set for Saturday night, has been recorded by artists as diverse as Iggy Pop and Rosanne Cash.


Rhiannon Giddens, well-loved by Rhythm & Roots fans for her work with the Carolina Chocolate Drops, is performing Sunday with Italian multi-instrumentalist Francesco Turrisi, who brings African and Arabic influences to Gidden’s classically trained voice and skilled banjo and fiddle playing. The pair just released They’re Calling Me Home, an album recorded in six days during the pandemic lockdown in Dublin that explores the music of their native and adoptive countries.
 
Straightforward traditional music, traditional-with-a-twist, or something entirely new – all will be showcased during the Labor Day weekend festival. Wentworth, who brings it all together each year with the help of hundreds of volunteers, is guided by his passion and a bit of manipulation.
 
He hopes to keep families coming so the children will be exposed to different kinds of music. The man who plays the blues to settle his grandson for a nap, says, “Even if they’re not consciously listening to it, it still filters in.” 

Rhiannon Giddens with Francesco Turrisi

To learn about the numerous additional bands signed for Rhythm & Roots, go to rhythmandroots.com.

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Ryan M. Belmore

Ryan M. Belmore is the Owner & Publisher of What's Up Newp. Ryan is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers. Send questions, tips, and story ideas to Ryan@whatsupnewp.com.