Twentieth Anniversary Celebration For Local Roots On The River Festival

BELLOWS FALLS, VERMONT - After 20 years, the celebration at this year’s Roots on the River Festival promises to be beyond memorable. “We’re going to celebrate with a bang,” producer Ray Massucco said. “We decided to mark the anniversary with some of our favorite acts from previous years, and what a show it’s going to be!”


PRESS RELEASE * Ray Massucco photo by Dan Tappan * Live photos (2014) by Joe Milliken: Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band, JD McPherson

The music festival will run from Friday, June 7 through Sunday, June 9 with venues under the Big Tent at the Rodeway Inn and at the Rockingham Meeting House. Additionally, the opening and closing acts will be provided by local groups on Thursday and Sunday evenings. The lineup is virtually all Roots alumni and fan favorites, including popular headliners James McMurtry, Hayes Carll, Mary Gauthier, Birds of Chicago, Bottle Rockets, Heather Maloney, and Eilen Jewell.

“Advance ticket sales have already broken all records for the weekend,” Massucco said. “We already have loyal fans coming from Ireland, England, Canada, and at least 20 states so far.”

In fact, the popular closing concert at the landmark Rockingham Meeting House, which always sells to capacity, has only around 20 single day tickets left. This will be Mary Gauthier’s 14th appearance. She has hosted the Meeting House concert every year since 2014, and this year Jaimee Harris will be opening for her and sitting in for Mary’s set as well.

“Mary’s performance of “The Foundling” was one of the most transcendent sets I have ever witnessed,” Massucco said. “‘Rifles and Rosary Beads’ several years later was, in the words of one fan, ‘the most transformative set of music I have seen or heard.’”

Other festival artists include Sarah Borges, Hayley Reardon, Brock Zeman, The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, Meadow’s Brothers, Nobody’s Girl, Joe Crookston, and Sean Rowe.

Additionally, local performers will bookend the festival. On Thursday evening, Ninja Monkey, Jesse Peters, and Izzy Serebrov will kick off the weekend at the Masonic Temple. Winding things down on Sunday afternoon, the Farewell Concert at the Moose Lodge will feature The Milkhouse Heaters, The Cold River Ranters, and Matt Seiple.

Friday afternoon under the Big Tent begins with Hayley Reardon, her fourth appearance on the Roots stage. Singer, songwriter, and storyteller Brock Zeman follows, adding his raspy voice and enchanting delivery to the mood.

Eilen Jewell will add a little swagger with blues, gospel, honky-tonk, and some rock ‘n’ roll, and The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band will have everyone’s feet tapping and hands clapping. The Bottle Rockets, together for nearly three decades, are a Roots fan favorite, as is Sarah Borges who promises to energize the stage with her lively performance.

James McMurtry returns to the Roots stage with a solo, acoustic set this year. Recently featured in a New York Times Magazine cover story, “25 Songs that tell us where music is going.” McMurtry’s lyrics are intense, haunting, and sometimes disturbing.

Saturday, rain or shine, starts out strong with the popular Meadows Brothers, followed by the trio Nobody’s Girl. The trio includes Rebecca Loebe, Grace Pettis, and BettySoo, who will be celebrating the release of their new extended play debut “Waterline,” to be released September 28.

“AKA ‘The Sirens of South Austin,’ this new female supergroup is going to make you fall in love with Texas singer songwriters all over again,” Massucco said.

Joe Crookston is a self-described songwriter, guitarist, painter, fiddler, slide player, eco-village member, and believer in all things possible. “Joe Crookston is one of the most passionate artists who has ever played Roots,” Massucco said. “Joe was part of our first Full Throttle Gospel Hour at the Rockingham Meeting House and he will be the first artist to make an encore appearance when he plays this year.”

Sean Rowe will offer his unique blend of blues, pop-rock, folk, and R&B. Heather Maloney, who describes herself as a writer song-singer follows, drawing the audience in with her soulful lyrics and musical stories.

“From her first Roots on the River appearance in 2013, Heather Maloney has been a favorite of ours,” Massucco said.

Birds of Chicago returns once again to the festival’s stage, followed by Canadian Roger Marin. Marin is the only artist who has faithfully performed at every Roots weekend – usually his birthday weekend. The evening concludes with fan favorite Hayes Carll, whose impressive career includes a Grammy nomination, American Music Association Award for best song of the year and best album, and appearances on everything from The Tonight Show to Austin City Limits. As his career has blossomed, he’s paused along the way at the Roots stage, and will once again highlight the Saturday night festivities.

“We are thrilled to once again have Hayes return to the Roots stage,” Massucco said. “Our festivalgoers have watched Hayes grow through the years, and Hayes loves our unique festival.”

Sunday’s Meeting House concert begins with opener Jaimee Harris, followed by Gauthier. After brunch, the Full Throttle Gospel Hour will feature second appearances by Nobody’s Girl, Birds of Chicago, Sean Rowe, and Joe Crookston.

Each year, the festival sponsors a local nonprofit throughout the weekend, offering booth space and a raffle to raise funds for the cause. This year’s nonprofit is Greater Falls Connections. The festival started in 2000 by local artist and music producer Charlie Hunter and featured headliner Fred Eaglesmith and his band. Eaglesmith remained the keystone to the festival until 2013.

“My huge thanks and gratitude to Charlie Hunter and Fred Eaglesmith for the vision that created Roots, and to Charlie for letting me caretake Roots when he wanted to step out,” Massucco said. “More thanks to the incredible volunteer staff who have helped and supported the festival through all these years.”

Through the years, many close friendships have formed between staff, fans, volunteers, and artists; the weekend feels a lot like a family reunion in many respects. “We are honored by all the people who come to our festival each year,” Massucco said. “It gave me the opportunity to meet many artists and fans who I now call friends.

As always, parking is plentiful and free, kids and pets are welcome at the Rodeway Inn, and it is a smoke-free, family-friendly festival. Kids 8 and under are always free with an adult; there is a ticket fee for youth 9-15.

Seating under the Big Tent at the Rodeway Inn is on a first-come, first-served basis, with the first 10 rows reserved for deluxe ticketholders. However, blankets and lawn chairs are always welcome on the spacious lawn. Local food and beverage vendors will be onsite to serve you, so leave those coolers in the parking lot, and for safety, no glass containers are allowed on the site. For more information and to reserve tickets, please go to www.vermontfestivalsllc.com.