- Based on the tremendous audience reception of last year's first Roots Music Festival, organizer singer/songwriter/musician Caroline Doctorow
decided to give it another go and so on Saturday, June 27, The Levitas Center for the Arts was filled with the sweet sounds of music largely indigenous to this country. Not simply folk music as participants will be quick to tell you but songs that tell stories from many different genres - country, jazz, bluegrass, folk and hundreds year old ballads.
Musician Maura Kennedy.
Participating in this second annual event which is sure to be a regular part of summer for years to come were East End bass player and singer Mick Hargreaves
fiddler Barbara Lamb
, Caroline Doctorow
and husband-and-wife duo The Kennedys
Hargreaves opened the show and performed a sweet acoustic set. His latest recording "Bridget," a song written by Gary Jude Anderson
, a Long Island songwriter who died last year. Inspired by the studio genius of Brian Wilson
, Hargreaves played all of the instruments and sang all the harmonies on the single. Later, Hargreaves who plays regularly with Doctorow, joined her on stage for her set.
Fiddler Lamb was up next, providing her own rhythm section with a toe looped pedal attachment which she pumped furiously while fiddling to the high heavens! "I'm like a one man band thanks to a little electronic trickery," she says. She records the parts of 20 instruments and then records each part onto a looping station which allows her to pedal a back-up band with a tap of her foot! Her latest album is "Twisty Girl."
Musician Mick Hargreaves.
Then it was Doctorow who wailed on a doleful "It's A Long Way To Reno" and later she went to something familiar to the audience Bob Dylan's
"I Want You" remarking when in doubt you revisit Dylan paying homage to the master of the craft." Doctorow's version was a softer more subdued and sweeter rendition of the classic. Backed up by fiddler Gary Oleyar
, Hargreaves on bass and Joe Selly
and Pete Kennedy
on guitar, Doctorow lived up to her reputation as an amazingly gifted musician and a powerful story teller.
Then Pete and Maura Kennedy slipped onto the stage and revved things up with no end of great guitar riffs and some powerhouse vocals from both. They whirled and twirled like lasso swinging cowboys. The two are not just superb musicians but a commanding force on stage. True to Pete's statement "How do you want to be remembered as a raging fire or a burning ember," there was blazing fire on stage at The Levitas that night!
The familial spirit onstage, evident to the whole audience, comes from years of working together. Pete and Maura Kennedy met in Austin, TX 17 years ago when he was touring with Nanci Griffith
. Pete helped produce Doctorow's latest album. "Their music is so amazing" says Doctorow who added," You don't get any better than Pete." Lamb and Doctorow were roommates when they were just starting out. Though Lamb lives in Nashville, the two friends perform together at least once a year and have been doing so for almost three decades. So it was no surprise to see and hear a lot of playful banter on the stage.
This year's festival benefitted WPKN, an eclectic, listener supported radio station based in Bridgeport, CT at 89.5 FM and on WPKM in Montauk at 88.7. Doctorow and Hargreaves host an hour-long program titled "Songtrails" the first Saturday of every month beginning this weekend on 4th of July.
Musician Caroline Doctorow and her 'sidemen' at the Roots Festival.