Roots on the River celebrates its 16th year

BELLOWS FALLS — New talent, fan favorites, and four days of music mark the 16th year celebration of the Roots on the River Festival, which starts Thursday, June 4, and features dozens of acts through Sunday, June 7.

The festival will be held at its usual eclectic collection of venues throughout the town and this year will feature different headliners each night – John Fullbright, Sam Baker, The Black Lillies, and the return of festival sweetheart Mary Gauthier, hosting the all-acoustic show at the meeting house.

“I can't remember a festival lineup that I've been more excited about,” Vermont Festivals co-producer Dorothy Read said in a news release. “The talent that will grace the stages is exceptional, with probably the best mix of musical styles Roots has ever offered.”

The popular spring festival begins at an old factory building at 33 Bridge St., Thursday night. The music continues Friday at Popolo's Italian restaurant, the Bellows Falls Farmers' Market, and under the “Big Tent” at the Rodeway Inn. Saturday's full day and evening acts will also appear at the Big Tent and Sunday's concluding concert will be held once again at the magnificent 18th Century Rockingham Meeting House.

This year's lineup features a mix of acts that have appeared at ROTR in previous years, as well as some new talent to keep things fresh.

The festival opens with Josh Brooks. Also on Thursday's schedule is Ida Mae Specker & the Honest Mistakes, and returning local group The Once Hollow.

Dotted throughout the village on Friday are free concerts during the day at Popolo and the farmers' market. This year, look for Domenic Cicala, The Wiles, Lara Herscovitch, and Davey O.

Friday features The Black Lillies, Caitlin Canty, and The Meadows Brothers under the Big Tent.

Saturday is a full day and night of music. The show kicks off with The Young Novelists, followed by Pesky J. Nixon. Hayley Reardon returns, as does Roger Marin and Heather Maloney. Marin is the only artist who has performed at every Roots festival. No Fuss and Feathers Roadshow will play in the afternoon.

Saturday's lineup also includes the first appearance this weekend of song-writer Sam Baker, and Carrie Elkin.

The evening concludes with Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter John Fullbright, featuring selections from his new album Songs.

After the flurry of entertainment, the weekend winds down on Sunday, beginning with an all-acoustic show at the Rockingham Meeting House, featuring Mary Gauthier, and Baker's second appearance.

The festival will draw to a close at Pleasant Valley Brewing in Saxtons River with Pretty Girls Sing Soprano, and Clyde's On Fire.

The festival is smoke-free, and family- and dog-friendly, with a special staffed children's tent on the Saturday of the festival. There is plenty of free parking at every site.

There is limited seating under the tent, so plan to come early or bring a small lawn chair or blanket. Vendors will be on-site selling food and beverages.

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