That festival, Fayetteville Roots Festival, is now a four-day music festival taking place Aug. 28-31, 2014. The main stages will be hosted at multiple stages across Fayetteville including George’s Majestic Lounge, Greenhouse Grille, Kingfish Dive Bar, Fayetteville Public Library and the Fayetteville Farmer’s Market.
Four years ago, Fayetteville Roots Festival was just local folk group 3 Penny Acre and a couple of their musician friends playing at Greenhouse Grille. About 2oo people attended, and everything actually went pretty well, that is — until a water main broke outside, said Brian Hembree, one third of 3 Penny Acre and music director for Roots Fest.
“It was kinda like, ‘What are we gonna do?’” Hembree recalled. “Everyone took a break, and when the people started coming back it was clear there was water all out in front of Greenhouse.”
They ended up taking it to George’s Majestic Lounge that night, and afterwards it got a lot of people interested in doing it again next year. From then on, the festival has gotten bigger and bigger with each year. Just in its second year in 2011, the Walton Arts Center began to provide the main stage, and had Guy Clark as the headliner. In 2012, folk-hero-legend John Prine headlined the festival.
“It’s been a great experience,” said Jeremy Gawthrop, food director for the festival and owner of Greenhouse Grille. “The city of Fayetteville considers it the best event in town. We get to support local charities, food movements, musicians, artists — it just really embodies the town. You get a real slice of what we’re proud of here.”
This year, the headliner is Lucinda Williams, who has Fayetteville ties with the University of Arkansas, and her dad lives here. Williams is considered by critics to be a female Townes Van Zandt, and her songwriting with a blending of folk-country-rock has gone on to receive three Grammy awards and 15 nominations.
“I’m excited for an incredible lineup,” Gawthrop said. “We’re bringing in some super talent. The top eight underneath the headliners are just skyrocketing, playing festivals across the country, they’re on Letterman they’re on Fallon. In the last six months they’ve just blown up.”
Some of the sleeper acts festival goers should count on seeing include Hurray for the Riff Raff and Secret Sisters, Gawthrop said. On the way to the festival, Secret Sisters will be playing at the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.
This year, Hembree said they’ve looked more into crossover acts, such as Water Liars and The Apache Relay. Most all of these acts will be featured on the late night stages at George’s Majestic Lounge. Tickets are still available for the late night shows, and can be bought for $15 at www.fayettevilleroots.com/#!home/mainPage.
“What’s really fun about those nights is you really see a great mixture of folks out at those late night George’s sets,” Hembree said. “It really adds to that festival vibe.”
As a part of the ‘roots’ element, the festival also supports local food. The festival has partnered with several restaurants and farmers regionally and state-wide. During the main event, restaurants will exclusively use the meat and produce from the farms for the menu. There will also be a food court during the festival at the Walton Arts Center McBride Room featuring Greenhouse Grille, Brickhouse Kitchen, Ella’s Restaurant and Pure Joy Ice Cream.
New this year will be a stage at Crystal Bridges in Bentonville that will host a free concert on Labor Day Monday from 2 to 5 p.m. featuring Rebecca Rhodes and The Birds of Chicago. There will also be food there to purchase. In addition to the Crystal Bridges stage, there will also be a lot of free programing, including film screenings going on at the Fayetteville Public Library.
Roots Festival Lineup:
(Performances will be throughout Fayetteville, check fayettevilleroots.com for locations)
The Wood Brothers
Darrell Scott & Tim O’Brien
Hurray For The Riff Raff
3 Penny Acre
Anthony Da Costa
Mark and Cindy Bilyeu
Benjamin Del Shreve
Raina Rose & Rebecca Loebe with Smokey and the Mirror