Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Northern Roots Festival: Traditional Music by and for the Community

The small town of Brattleboro in southern Vermont is both home and host to all kinds of artists, and the annual Northern Roots Traditional Music Festival there has made its mark as a cornerstone in the traditional music scene. It returns to Jan. 25-26.

“Although it’s a small town, we have quite a large community of traditional musicians,” said Keith Murphy, director of the popular festival. From fiddle players to accordion players, “people are very active, but often traveling around performing and (don’t) always have an occasion to gather together.”

Murphy started the festival with Brattleboro Music Center 13 years ago and has been director since. But it’s not the kind of festival that takes anonymous applications. Everyone invited or involved is connected to the community in some way, from local musicians to nationally known acts with ties to the area.

“We bring them because of the community connection,” Murphy said. And his goal in choosing acts each year is to represent a wide range of traditional styles.

“Oftentimes people combine a lot of different styles and one part of the festival is wanting to showcase great players in very specific traditions,” he explained. The two-day festival includes performances, workshops, and even pub singing, and spotlights northern musical traditions including Irish, Scottish, English and French Canadian.

The acts are chosen to cover a lot of bases,” Murphy said.

It’s rare to see a showcase of so many different styles, and it also offers the musicians as well as the public a chance to participate in workshops with some of these great players.

“A lot of times the general public thinks this kind of music is one big amorphous thing – even Celtic music. Within Celtic music there’s a lot of important differences, dramatic differences,” Murphy explained. “One of the things the festival does in a very intimate setting is give people a chance to hear and appreciate those differences.”

Murphy himself is a guitarist and pianist from Newfoundland, Canada and will be playing alongside some of the musicians this year.

“People can be involved in the festival in a lot of different ways,” he said. “It’s great to come to as a listener, to hear great music in a really intimate setting. It’s a great festival for musicians of any level, any experience and tradition of music (for) great workshops. It’s a great event to be able to play music with other people who are also passionate about it.”

•By Janelle Faignant Arts Correspondent

•culled from www.rutlandherald.com

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