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Grassroots Festival of Music and Dance Trumansburg, NY

In the geographic center of Asia lies a small Republic: Tuva.  Only three roads lead over the mountains to this quiet land, whose history is told by its musicians in styles that they call sygyt, xöömei, kargyraa, borbangnadyr, and ezenggileer.  On this side of the planet, we refer their music as Tuvan Throat Singing, and it's one of the most beautiful and most eerie things you'll ever hear.  As the singers manipulate their voices to produce overtones (essentially, each person singing a chord by themselves), they are singing with the voices of the rivers and the mountains, and telling ancient stories of place and people.  Alash Ensemble are masters of this music, and we're honored to have them with us.
Constantly bridging borders, both physical and spiritual, Atsiaktonkie is a master of translation.  He translates the traditional stories of his Akwesasne ancestors into modern-day parables, applying ancient wisdom to modern problems.  He translates rock and roll into a Native genre, applying modern melodies to ancient rhythms.  He translates his own spiritual journey into music, allowing us a glimpse of a different world with each song.
Ayurveda is a nature-based form of holistic living, wherein the spirit is enriched by encompassing all things surrounding an individual.  It's an ideal name, and concept, to describe Ithaca's favorite progressive rock band, whose music encompasses a myriad of influences; elemental, musical, and personal.
Béla Fleck is one of the finest musicians in the world: any instrument, any genre.  His skill on the banjo is based in extreme technical proficiency, but what makes him truly great is the sensitivity with which he listens to others and adds his own sounds to the mix.  He can build a musical kinship in a few simple notes, which is why he's befriended and recorded with just about every musician on the planet, so far as we can tell.  This is his first time at GrassRoots, and he'll be performing a set with Oumou Sangaré and her band, but as a very special treat, we're going to get a set of solo banjo music.  It's something you don't see often, and we're very much looking forward to it.
It's urban alt-country.  The dirt roads of Seattle might've been long since paved over, but the Believers have dug up the underlying grit and sing about it with velvet voices, playing it out with raucous down-home 'lectreefied guitars.  Love and un-love, heartache and hard liquor, real life in real time.
On the front edge of conscious dub, Black Castle will rock you and shake you 'til you can't take no more.  Local favorites with an international flair, moving your soul and your feet in unison and perfect harmony.
It's don't mean a thing if it ain't... well, you know.  Bring your dancing shoes and your favorite rockabilly filly (or fella) and get ready for something special.  Henrie's brilliant southpaw guitar stylings add a modern twist (no pun intended) to some classic music, so come on out and get your dance on!
It's not often that people even stay friends from their earliest days of youth to their years of full-grown-ness, but it's even more remarkable when they play together in a band for that long, and it leads to music that runs deeper than water.  It's old-time, for old times' sake, and it's wondrous to behold.
Somewhere between old-time stringband music and electric blues, there was a hard-livin' era of boisterous country blues.  Its roots were at the bottom of the delta, in the hot, flat, fertile fields that hold more history and mysteries than anyone remembers, and it grew up the Mississippi in a reverse flow, scattering with the diaspora of farm workers who left, seeking better lives in the cities.  This trailblazing music is neither gone nor forgotten, thanks to folks like the Burkes and the Bone, who'll rile it up once again for our listening pleasure.
Rockin' folks who play folk and rock is a pretty apt description for this stalwart set of musicians, who play a slew of styles that are at once dance-worthy and thought-worthy. Exquisite harmonies and songs of home... there's beauty here.
God and guitars.  Steel and soul.  My, my... it sure is sweet.  With the holy spirit flowing through their veins, out of their fingers, and into their incendiary guitars, the Campbell Brothers are, on Earth as in Heaven, a force to be reckoned with.  Ever danced and gotten your soul right at the very same time?  If not, now's your chance.
If you're one of the few folks still around who is harboring the idea that old-time music is sweet and folksy, come with me and allow me to introduce you to my friends, the Chicken Chokers. They're here to show you how fantastically irreverent it can be (and really, always was), with throat-cutting banjos, rabble-rousing guitars, and dirty, dirty fiddles (our favorite kind).
Born out of a love for old-time music and Mama Red's southern-style grub, the Chicken Fried Stringband certainly knows what matters in life.  Good food, old friends, great music, and... you know... love and such.  It's tasty, to be sure.
A good song tells a story, a timeless one, and wraps it up with short masterstrokes into something brilliant.  Crow Greenspun writes good songs.  The melodies and lyrics twist and turn, gently pulling you along as they go to unexpected places, much like life does. 
Defying definitions for as long as we've known them (which is basically forever, since our fates are inextricably entwined), Donna the Buffalo crafts pure joy into melodic form, building cultural and musical bridges everywhere they go.  If you add zydeco to reggae to roots rock to bluegrass, and add in that magical x-factor, you still have something far greater than the sum of its parts, because it seems to be that music is just the beautiful firmament, and there's more here than meets the eyes and ears.
There's a fine line between good and evil, and depending on your worldview, you could see anything either way.  Is it possible to be both at once?  Perhaps... the Evil City Stringband's weighted, dark versions of traditional and totally untraditional old-time numbers and originals will make you wonder where that line lies exactly.

Like an empty (but very comfortable) chair in a dark room, the Family Knife may not solve all of your problems (that's sort of the point), but they'll give you a cozy place to be (and a few prompts) so you can figure them out for yourself. Their swampacana compositions will play in the background while you do the math. It's not so hard, now, is it?

Thick and growly, brash and boisterous, Fisher Meehan plays it close to the vest. It's alterna-pop for a new generation, ready to shatter your expectations of what rock and roll is and what pop could be.
The Flying Clouds have been making their joyful noise unto the Lord for decades, bringing the sounds of traditional gospel choirs together with the sweet soul music borne out of the American South, adding a bit of funk, a whole lotta spirit, and the occasional miracle to the Big Dance. All the way from Plum Branch, South Carolina, we welcome the Flying Clouds with open arms, ready for a little soul-shakin' of our own.
Gravity-defying human sculptures are Galumpha's oeuvre.  Though physical strength and graceful motion are essential elements of any dance, there's even more here - humor, thought, and a near-impossible emulsion of humanity and motion.  Beauty, strength, and sheer hilarity are not, as it turns out, mutually exclusive, and Galumpha's got the proof.
Raw and raging reggae and death-defying dub at their very best, GPGDS combine the hypnotic sounds of Jamaican music with their own conscious vibrations and eternal truths.  Live in the moment, let it happen... you'll be healed and uplifted, and that's a guarantee.
Feisty and hook-laden rock and roll songs are the name of the game when Go Gone is in charge.  With the deep soul of classic rock advising their sassy songwriting, these Ithaca music veterans keep things real.
Fresh New Acoustic Rock and Roots with an eclectic edge.  Hailing from the Deep Green Hills of the Finger Lakes Wine Country, the Green Deeps play the new music of rural America. Once again proud to be Americana. Roots, pop, Irish,  folk., country Cajun-grass and more. Dobro, accordian, lap steel, African Kora, concertina, banjo, the low-down stand-up bass,  and drums, all steeped in a sweet three part harmony.
Sometimes experiments go so right, they necessarily become traditions.  Such is the case with our GrassRoots Festival Chamber Orchestra, a group of the region's finest classical musicians, under the direction of visionary Cayenna Ponchione, who've taken to bringing us into a whole new musical dimension on an annual basis.  With a program including pieces from Beethoven, Mendelssohn, and Shostakovich, as well as a number of special treats (including the winning piece from the 2009 GrassRoots Festival Chamber Orchestra International Composition Contest, as well as a thrilling rendition of the Bach Double Violin Concerto by local fiddle masters Judy Hyman and Laurie Hart), we look forward to a Sunday morning filled with the soothing, inspiring, and vibrant sounds of beautiful classical music.
The grumbly rusticness of this band's name refers to the low-down, nitty-gritty traditional Irish music that the group plays, not to the lovely and charming young ladies who are playing it.  Proudly carrying on the musical traditions of their forefathers and foremothers, the lovely young Gradys will sing, fiddle, and step-dance their way into your hearts, much as they entered ours from the first time we met them. .
Hip-hop is, at its very finest, a powerful vehicle with which to express pain through poetry, to provide social commentary and inspirational messages to a downtrodden populace.  The Gunpoets are indeed hip-hop at its finest, and their biting lyrics and stirring messages of truth and justice, alongside some well-timed secular rhymes, will move you, in all ways possible.
...and what of the cello?  A most beautiful instrument, whose rich, velveteen tones nestle into the calming baritone range, a space that neither squawks nor grumbles, but rather rocks you in its arms, smoothly, gently, beautifully.  Hank Roberts is more than a master of the instrument, he is a master of those sounds.  He plays as though the cello is an extension of himself, and as the notes pour out, we all become extensions of the cello... one solid ring, performer, instrument, and audience.  Be there, and you will indeed be there.
These phenomenal deejays play their turntables like instruments, combining, reducing, adding, subtracting, blending, fusing, and holding the dancers on a musical string, connected straight to the sound system.  It's a multi-sensory dance experience, and it will assuredly keep you moving.
Hee Haw Nightmare plays old-time music with a punk-rock edge, both musically and lyrically, never shying away from a terrifying and bloody old murder ballad or a fiddle-driven version of something you swear you recognize from somewhere else.  This hoedown will get raucous, so get ready!
Psychedelic contras and preternatural string-band dance numbers crash against haunting original tunes and unearthly reconstructions of ancient ones... in this special place, minor is major, bugs are kings, and equines soar.  The Horse Flies hold a special place in our hearts and minds.  Have a listen and a dance, and you'll see why.
Straight out of Lowell, Massachussetts, a town known for long-faded prosperity and crumbling elegance, Hot Day at the Zoo play what they call Zoograss... an modern, upbeat reconstitution of a richness that never fully evaporated.  That is to say, everything old can be new again, it just needs a little verve thrown at it.  That's what HDATZ does, and it's wonderful.
Hubcap is fluent in rock, but with a twangy Ithaca accent and a dark exterior.  As is often the case with bands from around here, seeking absolute sonic definitions would require building unnecessary walls between genres, and Hubcap would just go ahead and burn 'em all down again anyway.  It's probably wiser to flip things sideways and look at them in all of their glorious layers, twisting and bending with the seasons.
Burly, grungy, stunning psychedelic garage rock compositions flow out of this group's wailing guitars, hearkening back to a time when real rock ruled, but with a new dose of profound lyricism and a churning, addictive energy.
Dropping heavy riddims and massive soul everywhere they plug in, JSan and the Analogue Sons are a positive force to be reckoned with. One music, one love, one sound... let it wash over you.
Jennie Lowe Stearns infuses indie rock with back-road ballads and wistful waltzes. Her songs are wise little stories, tales of times and places where she was, and sometimes we were, too, but remembered, recollected, and retold in ways that never occurred to us the first time around.
In a better world, what they call alt.country would actually be the regular kind of country, and the stuff they play on the radio would be the alternative. See, we love a little twang, a little grit and grime, and the sparkles of a sequined suit. That's why we love Jim Lauderdale. He writes country songs just the way we like 'em, and his reverence for the greats of country music combined with his irreverent stage antics always keep us coming back for more.

 

 



GrassRoots Festival of Music and Dance