fayettevilleroots 2016 – day one

Read our review of day one Fayettevilleroots festival 2016


25 August 2016 (evening) Fayetteville Arkansas

This is a good place to reiterate that the fayettevilleroots festival is as much about food and fine drink as it is about music.  Tonight at the Garner Farm in Fayetteville Arkansas, the festival kicks off.  The site is gorgeous – local food, wine and other delights were on offer.  Later on in the festival, there will be a chef cook-off including drawing lots for pairs and selecting ingredients from the local farmer’s market (in one hour only).  There will also be plenty of tasty treats right outside the main stage at The Town Centre.

For me, leaving a Melbourne Australia winter, in transit (flying, waiting, driving) for over 24 hours, tonight’s setting was picture perfect.  The weather was balmy and still.  I had arrived with my local host Dawn and her friends Jason and Janna and the dust and time twists of commuting disappeared the moment I set foot on the lush grass and soaked in the scene.

If that was not enough, there was in fact a terrific bill of four artists – Penny and Sparrow, Jonathan Byrd, The Wild Reeds and the majestic Peter Rowan Band would round out proceedings.

This was the start-up event the same as last year, but the festival organisers (Bryan and Bernice Hembree and Jerrmy Gawthrop) made further improvements this year – a shuttle bus to ease traffic congestion and the installation of multiple food stalls (compared with one long table in 2015) – both were unmitigated successes.

Andy Baxter and Kyle Jahnke are Penny & Sparrow, hailing from Austin Texas.  These indie band members were former roommates and now tour extensively inspired by strong songwriting and intense, tight harmonies.  Their most recent record Struggle Pretty was released independently and landed them significant plaudits. ‘Creature’ was free-flowing and highly sensitive.


Penny and Sparrow


Jonathan Byrd is a seventh-generation Carolinian who is now based in Carrboro, North Carolina.  His narrative style is easy and the tales he sings are easy to listen to and like.  ‘Wild Ponies’ was a highlight (you can see a video of another performance of that song below), as was the fun ‘Temporary Tattoo’ which featured the best handsaw solo I have seen in a long time (seriously!!).  ‘Natural Supernatural’ was a crowd-pleaser and featured the inventive rhyming of ‘rosary’ and ‘hosiery’.  Byrd’s right-hand man Johnny Waken was impressive in his playing of many instruments and providing a good stage focal point.


Jonathan Byrd


The Wild Reeds are from Los Angeles and is fronted by Kinsey Lee, Mackenzie Howe and Sharon Silva (Nick Jones and Nick Phakpiseth are in the rhythm engine-room).  There is plenty of diversity with new-folk, some country and indie-rock.  What is common, however, is the close-knit and sometimes gale-force harmonies.


The Wild Reeds


 Lastly, Peter Rowan.  A member of the great Bill Monroe‘s bluegrass band.  He eschewed the strictures of bluegrass and moved to LA and hooked up with Jerry Garcia from The Grateful Dead and formed Old and In The Way.  He has brought many external influences to his core sound over the years – Eastern mysticism and reggae to name just two.  He is the subject of a documentary The Tao of Bluegrass and his standing is impeccable.  He is one the last great bluegrass and old-time players.
I have seen him perform many times (and would catch him twice the next day) so I won’t go into much detail about the set list, other than to mention his oh-so A-grade band – Chris Henry (mandolin), Keith Little (banjo), Blaine Sprouse (fiddle), Paul Knight (bass) and Jamie Oldaker (percussion).  A treat.

Peter Rowan (with Chris Henry)


So the first delightful stage of the festival was over.

A short trip to The Chancellor Hotel to see the end of a set from Oh Jeremiah was the finale for the day, along with meeting and re-acquainting with fellow music lovers.

It was a warm return to this idyllic town.





Read our review of day one Fayettevilleroots festival 2016




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Author: Rob Dickens

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