Ithaca Blog

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

GrassRoots Picks

Regular readers (new and sporadic ones, too) might have noticed a profusion of GrassRoots material on the Blog lately. Part of the reason is simply that GrassRoots is a big deal around here.

Mostly, though, it was because we got so many hits from people, from far and wide, looking for information about GrassRoots, that we thought we would dedicate lots of posts to such info, and also keep the cyberspace gangway cleared for these seekers.

Anyway, we figure our final posting about GrassRoots 2008 will be this: our mail carrier today asked what we consider the don't-miss acts. While this is of course a matter of taste, we thought we would mention a few of our considerations.

We won't give exact times for the acts, but will list them from earlier in the day each day til later.

Friday: Bubba George String Band has the honor of kicking off the Festival, every year, with a set of old-timey beauty and fun. We remember when they weren't, but by now they are probably venerable. Personally, we are big fans of venerable tradition; and this is GrassRoots' own practice of it.

To prove we can be parochial, we recommend Burke and Bone, who do a mixture of traditional old-timey, country blues, and originals. Next in the Cabaret is Evil City String Band, a band with a similar mix and sensiblity, not to mention some overlap in personnel.

The night's headliners are Eilen Jewell and Lucinda Williams, who do back-to-back shows on the GrandStand stage.

Saturday: Ti-Ti Chickapea play early at the Dance Tent. Hank Roberts, Richie Stearns, and Eric Aceto do a very Ithacan turn on Americana (including Native Americana, if you will) mixed with acoustic jazz.

If you haven't caught up with the Balkan hoedown/New York underground thing that's going on, the Luminescent Orchestrii is your chance. They claim their music will make you "kiss and dance." Nothing wrong with that.

Etran Finatawa promise to be the new Tinariwan, which certainly should not be missed.

The Flying Clouds once again bring jumping, sweating salvation to the Dance Tent. They also have the coolest entourage (their families) and t-shirts (at bargain prices ... so they save you in more ways than one).

The Dirty Dozen Brass Band are big, big players in an old, old tradition in New Orleans, and are definitely a must.

We don't get much music here from Brazil, and you can't get too much music from Brazil; this year we have Nation Beat, in the friendly confines of the Dance Tent.

Saturday: The Horse Flies play early (1 pm ) at the Grandstand Stage. At about the same time, jazz guitarist Clay Ross, of Cyro Baptista's band, plays in the Cabaret.

Tobey Foyeh and Orchestra Africa bring a taste of highlife and Afrobeat and, no doubt, ruckus to the Infield Stage.

Galumpha (nee Second Hand Dance) return, at 7 pm. Then, stay in your seats for Cyro Baptista and Beat the Donkey, who also bring theatrics (along with very original music) to their performance, and were a big, surprise hit in 2006.

Plena Libre are big stars in the world of Latin dance music, and they will no doubt please.

Sunday: If you've never gotten it together to get up for the GrassRoots Chamber Orchestra, give it a shot. Beautiful music and a pleasing change of pace to remind us, as Duke Ellington said, there are really only two kinds of music. Similarly, the Bethlehem Youth Choir, from Ithaca, sing right after that, in the Dance Tent.

Jim Miller, longtime guitarist for Donna the Buffalo, returns with his new band, the Rough Gems.

Big Leg Emma are big Ithaca favorites and big favorites at clubs and festivals all over.

So. We have missed many, of course. We trust you won't. Pretty much no matter what you do, you can't go wrong. Have fun at this great event which so well represents our little town and its place in bringing bring this big world together through music, cooperation, understanding, respect, work, and joy.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

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