It was dry in town for so much of the first good half of our Murfreesboro summer. Then we were all luckily blessed with torrential downpours to help out backyard gardens, wash cars parked on the streets for free and remind some of us that tromping through a little bit of mud was missed as opposed to a nuisance that could possibly be tracked through the house.
If this sounds like how you felt over the course of the mini-flooding of mid-July, it will also be good to hear that the 3rd annual Muddy Roots Fest is livening up again for a 2012 go-around for countrymen and greasers-at-heart. Great food throughout the Muddy Roots valley’s main strip ready to be served off the grills under vendors’ tents and from their buses find nary a dirty wheel in sight as custom hot rods and motorcycles roll in from all over the South to be parked and gawked at during the car show and certainly plenty of wet dirt to squish between flip-flopped toes if it sprinkles like it did in 2011. And who cares to track a little dirtiness through the tent at the end of the evenings, knowing the next night it’ll happen again? It can always be hosed out later. The festival’s name is pretty much self-explanatory: the Muddy part is what it is and the Roots part is the type of music to be heard.
That’s right. The Muddy Roots Fest of Cookeville, Tenn., kicks off August 31 and runs through September 2, giving patrons three good days to arrive whenever they can and set up camp on the hillsides or in the wooded valleys on both sides of the vended and staged center strip. It provides three days to get a good fill of everything from organic food to deep-fried grub or libations out of Scooter’s (the bar on top of the hill next to the entrance gate). But most of all, it gives everyone three days to get a little nasty to the likes of an incredible lineup certainly not afraid to follow last year’s headlined by Wanda Jackson and The Legendary Shack Shakers with other acts ranging from The Goddamn Gallows to New York’s own O’Death to country fiddle legend Don Maddox.
“Promoting all blends of Americana, Folk, Blues, Old-Country and Punk Rock,” with the festival’s sole intention of “Saving Country Music,” according to their website.
Thankfully so, because the men and women that produce the Cookeville festival even went so far in their intentions for country music as to take the fest on the road, or on a boat, and birth a sister festival as the first ever Muddy Roots Europe held in Belgium June 9 and 10 this year. Acts came from all over the world for the two-day hootenanny. Most recognizable to folks around here, though, are the bands from last year’s Roots Fest like Cashman, Jayke Orvis and the Broken Band and Wayne “The Train” Hancock as the Sunday headliner. These busy producers may be tired, but they’re not dead yet.
“Muddy Roots Europe was a blast,” said event organizer and Smyrna screen-printer, Jason Galaz. “It was about sharing the Muddy Roots life with others. They love Americana music and culture. It was small but well accepted and has a strong foundation to build. We booked two-thirds American bands at [Muddy Roots Europe] and plan on doing the same next year.”
But until then, they work through this busy schedule for 2012’s end-of-August event with the fruit of their labor that includes performances from major players in the country, rockabilly, blues, and Americana scenes including Grammy-award winning, Virginia-born banjoist Dr. Ralph Stanley, hopefully with an acapella “O Death,” as he did for the soundtrack of Oh, Brother Where Art Thou. Still, if not, there is no way it will be a disappointment so long as he picks anything else from his 66 years-in-the-making catalogue and repertoire.
The one and only Guthrie-taught/Dylan-inspiring, Grammy-award winning and National Medal of the Arts recipient, NY folk and blues guitarist Ramblin’ Jack Elliott will be picking in all his glory for the folks at Muddy Roots this year. There, too, are decades worth of excellence to choose from for an intimate gathering in a Cookeville music festival, but here’s to hoping some of his newest material from A Stranger Here is among whatever the man decides to play.
There are tons of other bands holding down Muddy Roots 2012. A couple more newcomers to this hellish and heavenly lineup are pulling through for the crowds as headliners Reverend Horton Heat, who graced Murfeesboro with their presence earlier this year, are greasing up to get down, along with Murfreesboro’s own The Hardin Draw making the trek. Don Maddox & Rose will return again this year along with returning Wayne Hancock, The Legendary Shack Shakers, O’Death, Rachel Brooke, and The Goddamn Gallows, among others. There will even be the return of Rockin’ Kitty Pin-up Pageant and Burlesque Le Moustache to the high delight of many. One’s made for daytime. The other is definitely made for the nighttime.
“We’ve kicked up our lineup a notch so as to expand the demographic a bit. Everything from bluegrass to punk rock!” said Galaz.
Pictures and details of last year’s Muddy Roots can be found on Boropulse.com in the photo gallery section or last September and October issues archived.
Information for this year’s Muddy Roots Festival pertaining to everything from merchandising/vendors, the car show, a detailed schedule of all three days’ lineups, camping and contact information, directions to and a map of the location can all be found at muddyrootsmusic.com where you can also sign up for their newsletter and read more in their just-for-Muddy-Roots magazine, The Rambler.
Bring some old clothes, because it’s going to get dirty after the hour and a half drive to East Tennessee to play with some “Old Souls, Old Songs, Old Cars, Old Campers,[and] Good Times.”