Trumansburg, N.Y. — From July 17 to July 20, music lovers of all stripes will go to the Trumansburg fairgrounds to groove, boogie and tap their toes at GrassRoots 2014.
Nearly 90 bands will play this year at the GrassRoots Festival of Music and Dance, ranging from international acts, such as Cuban singer Danay Suarez, to the Miami-based funk-Latin band Locos Por Juana, to “micro-local, ultra-hyper regional bands,” according to Megan Romer, marketing director for GrassRoots.
Whether you are a festival newbie or a seasoned veteran, read on to see our 10 reasons to get excited for GrassRoots 2014.
1. Twangy quartet of Letterman fame:
Lake Street Dive, an indie jazz and soul band from Boston, will play on Friday night. The twangy quartet has made it big — the release of their recent album Bad Self Portraits has led to performances on The Late Show with David Letterman, The Ellen DeGeneres Show and The Colbert Report.
Lake Street Dive also gained recognition through their cover of the Jackson Five hit, “I Want You Back,” on a Boston street corner.
2. The music starts…before the festival?
This year, GrassRoots will host its first-ever pre-festival concert, headlined by Keller Williams with the Travelin’ McCourys, an act Romer calls “bluegrass jammy.”
If you can’t wait until Thursday morning for the music, head up to the fairgrounds Wednesday night.
Watch their country-zapped cover of “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster The People here:
3. Donna the Buffalo — the distillation & the capstone
On Sunday night, local band Donna the Buffalo, one of the founding GrassRoots groups, plays with other bands from the festival. Romer calls it a “distillation of the entire experience,” and “big and extravagant and just keeps on going.”
As the last act of the entire fest, “Donna the Buffalo & Friends” provide a capstone to GrassRoots — definitely not something to miss.
Watch their wrap of the 2013 fest here:
4. Happiness Parade
Wait for the lull between bands on Sunday afternoon, and you’ll find yourself in the midst of the Happiness Parade, a richly costumed, moving carnival that’s “really fun for kids,” according to Romer.
More than half of the festival attendees actually walk in the parade as it winds around the fairgrounds, some splashed with colorful body paint, others adorned with fairy wings and homemade leafy hats.
“It’s basically a mini old-school carnival mixed with a Mardi Gras parade,” Romer said. “We keep costumes for everyone, like weird old prom dresses.”
Here’s the parade in 2010:
5. Chamber orchestra
On Sunday morning, wake up with the sighing strings of a chamber orchestra — one of the only performances GrassRoots actually produces, according to Romer.
“A chamber orchestra is not what people would expect from us,” Romer said. “It’s lively but soothing — as lovely a way to wake up on a Sunday morning as ever.”
Look out for the original piece composed for the orchestra — each year, a new song is commissioned specifically for GrassRoots. One of the most memorable pieces performed last year included a soloist on a steel pan drum, according to Romer.
6. ‘Divine’ festival food
After dancing for hours in the sun, concertgoers’ stomachs may start rumbling, and when they do, says Romer, it’s time for pizza.
Trumansburg pizza joint New York Pizzeria is a signature GrassRoots treat — especially because it defies the typical stereotype of festival food.
“Usually festival food is depressing, but this pizza is divine,” Romer says. “It alone is worth the trip.”
7. The healing Arts
If you need to take a break from all of the dancing, visit the healing arts area. There, alternative healers offer free services, including massages.
At the start of each day, join in the morning yoga, a beloved activity that many festivalgoers aren’t aware of, according to Romer.
“It’s actually huge, Romer said. “Hundreds and hundreds of people participate … so if you’re sore from dancing, you can still join in.”
8. Dance all night
Starting at midnight on Saturday, dance all night to the strains of Keith Frank & the Soileau Zydeco Band, a Louisiana Zydeco group that blends Cajun music with rhythm and blues.
Romer says to keep an open mind when it comes to dancing for seven hours straight.
“Even if you don’t think you’ll like it, it’s really hard not to like,” she said.
Watch Keith Frank & the Soileau Zydeco Band here:
9. Hoop champ
If you want a break from the music, find Moontee Sinquah — a Native American hoop dance champion who performs with his sons and nephew.
A hoop dancer uses the hoops — which are smaller than a hula hoop — to create shapes around and over the body. As many as 30 hoops can be used to create these shapes, which range from twisting them around the legs to mimicking riding a horse, or holding them above the head to look like a rooster.
Watch Moontee Sinquah’s performance at a previous GrassRoots festival here:
10. Latin Fusion
Taste the heat with Miami-based funk Latin bands — music that Romer calls both “edgy, fun and danceable” and “fresh and summery.”
Latin fusion is currently booming in Miami, but has yet to make its mark in upstate NY, according to Romer. GrassRoots aims to change this by featuring several of these bands, including Telekinetic Walrus and Cortadito.
Look out for Locos Por Juana, which was nominated for a Grammy in 2008.
Watch their performance at GrassRoots in 2011 here: