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Roots Are Rockin'

By Scott Smith in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 8, 2005 2:30PM

It’s no secret July is going to be a huge month for live music in Chicago with Intonation Fest next weekend and Lollapalooza the week after that. Yet the whole idea of fests like these is to get exposed to music you’ve never heard before. So anyone who’s REALLY into music would be a fool to miss this weekend’s Eight Annual Folk and Roots Festival sponsored by the Old Town School of Folk Music.

If you’re like Chicagoist’s grandfather and think all folk music is “funeral music” then allow the Old, folks open your mind. Saturday’s main stage headliner Alejandro Escovedo started out in a punk band before coming up through the Austin music scene as he melded folk, rock, and blues.

2005_07_08_clay.jpgAlso performing on Saturday is Otis Clay, a Chicago soul legend who’s sound was crafted by the same Memphis influences found in the work of Al Green and Stax Records. Clay is a staple of this fest and on the local blues scene. Plus, he’s big in Japan. Other main stage performers include Funkadesi, Ozomatli, the Read My Hips Belly Dance Troupe and the Midwest Invitational Fiddle Contest finals. Sweet.

Unlike many of the other beer-soaked fests this weekend, the Folk and Roots Fest takes pains to be kid-friendly. This year’s Kids Tent features the Wiggleworms, hip-hop and hula dance instruction, and kids musical theater. Don’t miss the Kids Art tent where if you make it, you wear it.

But don’t come to the fest empty-handed! The Welles Park Gazebo jam sessions allow you to become part of the fest. 2005_07_08_pontani.jpgThe drum circle and Grateful Dead jam sessions are givens at this event but stick around for some ukulele rocking, soul singing and Beatle action.

Check the Old Town School site for the full schedule or any FAQs. Welles Park is on the corner of Lincoln and Montrose and the suggested donation is $1-5. Chicagoist thinks five bucks is a small price to pay to gaze upon the lovely visages of the World Famous Pontani Sisters appearing in the Dance Tent.