Keep the vibe alive? Rhythm & Roots might be coming back, after all | Daily news alerts


CHARLESTOWN — A beloved local music festival may soon sing a new tune.

The Rhythm & Roots festival could return to Ninigret Park this Labor Day after all – if Charlestown city councilors give the green light when the request is presented to them for a vote on Monday night.

The festival – an event that has drawn thousands of music lovers to Ninigret Park every Labor Day weekend for nearly 25 years – was canceled earlier this year when producer and festival founder Chuck Wentworth, citing issues of health, announced that it was suspending all operations.

But Wentworth reversed his decision after receiving more than a thousand Facebook messages, phone calls and emails from fans of the popular festival, all expressing their grief and disappointment.

“A lot of people were upset,” Wentworth said in a phone interview last week. “It really bothered me.”

Then, said Wentworth — who was recently named to the Rhode Island Bluegrass Hall of Fame — came an onslaught of inquiries from people interested in keeping the festival alive.

Wentworth said he rejected many of them, but the request from GoodWorks Entertainment Group LLC’s Tyler Grill caught his attention.

“I did my research,” he said, “and the one with Tyler seems like a perfect fit.”

Earlier this week, Wentworth emailed that “Lagniappe Productions is currently in negotiations with a local production company to acquire and produce the festival this Labor Day weekend.”

Lagniappe Productions is the name Wentworth gave to his company, which was founded in 1985 to produce Cajun dances at Holy Ghost Brotherhood Hall in East Providence. He and his family run the Rhythm & Roots Festival.

The explosion of emails was to “save the date”, he said.

On March 24, Grill, a director of GoodWorks Entertainment, sent a letter to Charlestown Clerk Amy Rose Weinreich with an attached request for the “2022 Rhythm & Roots Festival Renewal.”

The letter was also signed by Charlestown locals Robb Hess and Salli Frattini Hess, who said their “experience producing TV and digital events and our passion for the festival” inspired them to connect Wentworth and Grill. .

“GoodWorks currently operates several festivals and music venues in Connecticut,” the letter states. “GoodWorks will be the production company/promoter for the recording. We consult with them locally to bring our outdoor experience, our knowledge of the festival culture, working with the town and community to ensure the festival goes as smoothly as possible. although he has done so in the past.”

Frattini Hess, executive producer of Sunset Lane Entertainment, has extensive experience in the television industry. She served as senior vice president of MTV from 1988 to 2007, where she was responsible for all production business operations for MTV Networks. She also made history as the first executive producer to oversee the production of an NFL Super Bowl halftime show.

“GroundWorks and Chuck Wentworth are working together for this next year of transition,” the letter reads.

Wentworth said he plans to send out another announcement “detailing plans for the future of the festival shortly” and hopes to stay on as a consultant to help with the transition for at least two years.

A Charlestown City Council agenda item for Monday, April 11 includes “Discussion and Potential Action” regarding the 2022 Rhythm & Roots Festival.

Wentworth, who hosted a folk music show on URI’s radio station, WRIU-FM, for many years, has been involved with Rhode Island music festivals for the past 40 years and has been instrumental instrumental in booking bluegrass luminaries like Alison Krauss, Bill Monroe, Earl Scruggs and Doc Watson.

In a 2019 interview with The Sun, Wentworth said his proudest achievement was “surviving as a freelance festival producer for almost 40 years in a corporate environment”.

Now he’s encouraging “all loyal festival fans to hang in there and save the dates,” September 2, 3, and 4, for the opportunity to “Keep the Vibe Alive” in 2022.”

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