FAYETTEVILLE – The people who quickly write off Northwest Arkansas as a place where nothing ever happens have sure missed the mark.
The region is quickly gaining a reputation for cultivating local musical acts while making sure to bring in some of the most influential national acts. The Fayetteville Roots Festival (Aug. 23-26) is one example of an event that started locally and is continuing to grow.
At a sold-out event Sunday night (March 18), hosted in part by Roots co-founder Jerrmy Gawthrop, details about the 2012 event were released piecemeal throughout performances by a few of the bands to featured at Roots: local favorite 3 Penny Acre, Joy Kills Sorrow and Lake Street Drive. The bands played to an attentive crowd at Greenhouse Grille.
Bryan Hembree, guitarist for 3 Penny Acre and co-founder of the festival with Gawthrop, announced that mandolin virtuoso David Grisman, with his son, Samson and their David Grisman Folk Jazz Trio, would headline the festival with a performance at the Walton Arts Center Aug. 26. A few lucky musicians will also get to participate in a master class talk by Grisman.
Other venues will include George’s Majestic Lounge, Greenhouse Grille, the Fayetteville Public Library, the Fayetteville Farmer’s Market and Kingfish.
Hembree dismissed the notion that Roots would be yet another “camping” festival, as there are several successful ones in the area already.
“This is an intimate urban festival,” he declared.
Gawthrop added: “The music is rich, the food is locally grown and produced,and prepared by local restaurants, and the community efforts span local nonprofits including Feed Fayetteville and Folk School of Fayetteville.”
Others in the lineup show that a lot of thought and consideration have gone into bringing a wide range of talent to this festival: Darrell Scott, Hayes Carll, Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three and Cajun-flavored Hoots and Hellmouth.
Hembree mentioned that since booking some of the bands, their names have appeared on the rosters of some of the nation’s major folk and bluegrass festivals this summer and fall, such as the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Merlefest, DelFest and the Northwest String Summit.
“It’s humbling, to say the least,” said Hembree.
Also announced for the the Fayetteville Roots Festival: Steel Wheels, David Mayfield Parade, Gregory Alan, Isakov, Carper Family Band, Lloyd Mains and Terri Hendrix, Carrie Elkin, John Elliot and Raina Rose, Ryan Spearman and Joahnn Wagner. As always, the area’s abundant local talent is utilized with the announcements of 3 Penny Acre, Trout Fishing in America, Still on the Hill, Cletus got Shot and Charliehorse.
There were several more acts — as many as eight or nine— that were on the verge of signing but were not committed enough to name at Sunday night’s party.
Tickets will go on sale “April 1-ish,” Hembree said. The first to go on sale will be "Friends of the Festival" passes that serve as individual sponsorships. These passes serve as an invitation to the VIP dinner and concert at the home of Denise and Dr. Hershey Garner the first night of the festival, as well as access to the special event programming around town, two nights with prime seating to shows at WAC, meals at participating vendors and passes to the three late-night shows at George’s.
Check the festival’s website for ticket availability.