Music Festivals are Back: Check out Red Wing Roots

Live music is coming back. I dipped my toe back in with a house concert featuring Bruce Molsky and Tony Trischka here in Connecticut, but next week I’m hitting the road for the Red Wing Roots Festival (July 9, 10 & 11 in Mount Solon, Virginia).

Steel Wheels, your hosts at Red Wing.

The festival, one I’ve missed, is hosted by the Steel Wheels band. On WPKN I interviewed Trent Wagler, the group’s leader, and he said the aim was to create a roots festival for the Shenandoah Valley. Working with their friends Michael Weaver and Jeremiah Jenkins, they made it happen in Natural Chimneys Park and Campground in 2013. I’m not a camper, but it looks like a great place or that option.

On stage at Red Wing.

Here’s just some of the lineup: The Steel Wheels, The Mavericks, Sarah Jarosz, Hiss Golden Messenger, Bettye Lavette, Tim O’Brien Band. Peter Rowan’s Free Mexican Air Force, Dustbowl Revival, Hawktail, Town Mountain, Bill and the Belles, Miss Tess and many more. I like that there are groups I never heard of that sound wonderful, such as the Chatham Rabbits. With a name like that, c’mon, they’re going to be stupendous. I talked to Kris Truelsen of Bill and the Belles, and the group is excited to be finally getting on the road this summer.

Bill and the Belles, with Kris Truelsen third from left.

There’s really no substitute for live music. I like Zoom as a tool, and I even promoted a couple of Zoom music festivals, but the medium pales after a while. Jazz musician David Friedman told me, “It’s live or I’m staying home!”

The Chatham Rabbits. With a name like that, how could they not be great?

Typically, I go to five or six festivals per season. Obviously, that didn’t happen in 2020. But so far in 2021, it looks like I can also attend these live events: Rhythm & Roots in Rhode Island, Green River in Massachusetts, and the Baltimore Old Time Music Festival.

Good music, great setting.

One of the great advantages of these events for people still cautious about COVID. They’re outside! The closest thing to indoors is the porta-potties.

Miss Tess.

It’s going to be about a seven-hour drive to Red Wing. It’s more than worth it for three days of great live music.

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