Who doesn’t love choice? With two dozen live performances on three stages, a popular 4,400-square-foot dance floor, and food from Thailand to Narragansett Bay, Rhythm & Roots offers up the options.
The 24th Rhythm & Roots Music, Dance and Food Festival, held at Charlestown’s Ninigret Park over Labor Day weekend every year, kicks off with a New Orleans party of diverse musical styles featuring Cowboy Mouth on Friday, Sept. 2, followed by the bluesy, powerful Grace Potter on Saturday and the legendary Little Feat on Sunday.
Like the food, roots music covers the map. In addition to Cowboy Mouth’s combination of New Orleans sounds, rock, punk and blues, three bands from The Big Easy will perform Friday – New Orleans Suspects, Honey Island Swamp Band and John “Papa” Gros.
You’ll also hear Tex-Mex conjunto, boogie woogie, swamp pop, blues, gospel, country and more for the next two days. While the music is often hard to characterize, it’s all authentic and ever-changing. This year’s line-up includes Samantha Fish, Anders Osborne & Jackie Green, Los Texmaniacs, North Mississippi All-Stars, The New Orleans Suspects and Donna the Buffalo. The Dance tent will swing with four authentic Louisiana Cajun and Zydeco bands – the Pine Leaf Boys, Nathan and the Zydeco Cha-Chas, Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys (a fixture at every Rhythm & Roots festival) and Cedric Watson.
If you’re a camper, you may even hear impromptu jam sessions by festival performers after the gates close (or you can stay in designated quiet areas if that’s not your thing). Staying at Ninigret Park for the duration is convenient, for sure, but it also means more time to enjoy the all-ages, welcoming vibe, according to the 1,500 who camp there every year. The number of camping tickets is limited to that number and sell out quickly. With the festival a few weeks away, it’s best to purchase tickets now whether you’re camping or not. Tickets range from $49 for the Friday New Orleans opener to $249 to camp, dance and hear music all three days. Children 12 and under are always free. Festival grounds open at 4 p.m. Friday and noon on Saturday and Sunday. Performances start one hour after opening and end at 11 p.m.
The festival features music on three stages – the main Rhythm Stage, the Dance Stage and the Roots Stage, where you’ll find an up-close, informal atmosphere for workshops and jams. Don’t forget the artisans’ crafts, food for every palate and Rhode Island beers and wines. Ninigret Park’s playground, swimming, tennis, biking or disc golf are open to anyone who needs a break. Founding producer Chuck Wentworth will be enjoying the music as well, after selling the Rhythm & Roots Festival earlier this year to Hartford-based GoodWorks Entertainment, led by CEO Tyler Grill. An independent, community-minded organization with 20 years of concert experience, GoodWorks was considered a perfect fit to take over the beloved festival. The Wentworth family, which includes Chuck’s wife Deb, their three children and nine grandchildren, have been working on the transition and will remain involved for as long as they like. Got questions about parking, camping, accessibility, volunteering or any number of other issues? Go to rhythmandroots.com. Want a preview? Download The 2022 Rhythm & Roots playlist on Spotify.