By Jenna Lazenby
There’s nothing quite like thoughts of the upcoming Virginia music festival season to shake off the chill of winter. One of the premier boutique festivals, Rooster Walk, has helped spur those thoughts by revealing its headliners. Newgrass and festival favorite, Greensky Bluegrass, and legendary reggae band, The Wailers, will be spearheading the 9th Annual Rooster Walk. The two groups will be joined by other new additions, Anders Osborne, who is set to play The Rives Theatre on Feb. 16, The Motet, one of last year’s most talked about Rooster Walk performances will make a much anticipated return. Other acts announced today are American bluesman Anderson East, Charleston-based indie rockers Susto, JGB tribute band, Mission in the Rain, Virginia-based, singer-songwriter Juliana McDowell, and Bassett native “artist at large” Josh Shilling.
While Rooster Walk has gained a reputation for some of the highest quality acts you’ve never heard of, the newly-named headliners each bring star power. Greensky Bluegrass, a band that won the Telluride Bluegrass Festival battle of the bands in 2006, has amassed a considerable following since forming in 2000. These fun-loving guys from Kalamazoo, MI, maintain a grueling tour schedule, packing venues, including a sold-out Red Rocks, across the country. Meanwhile, iconic reggae band, The Wailers, of Bob Marley fame, will deliver its timeless message of “One Love” to the Rooster Walk crowd. Founder, Aston “Familyman” Barrett, once named one of the most influential bass players of all times, will be joined by original Wailers’ guitarists Junior Marvin and Donald Kinsey.
Rooster Walk, a non-profit festival, originally begun as a gathering of family and friends to honor with fellowship and music, two young lives lost, has evolved into one of Martinsville’s signature events and has grown in scope each year. This year’s festival is expected to draw an audience of nearly 5,000, with four days that features more than 50 bands, coupled with a variety of outdoor and holistic health activities that range from a 5k race to yoga classes, and rafting trips down the Smith River which runs through the heart of Martinsville.
While there are still many more bands yet to be named, other acts already featured in the lineup include southern rockers, The Marcus King Band, out of Asheville, Nasheville-based bluegrass act, Billy Strings, the Eric Krasno Band, a rock and jazz fusion group from New York, Yarn, a Rooster Walk staple, returns to the stage, plus regional favorites Erin & The Wildfire, from Charlottesville, and Richmond-based, The Trongone Band make a second-year appearance.
Proceeds from Rooster Walk go towards a band instrument purchase and repair program for local high school students, as well as to the festival’s namesake, the “Penn-Shank Memorial Scholarship Fund” which awards an annual educational scholarship of $4000 to one high school senior for undergraduate college study. For more information on Rooster Walk, or to purchase tickets, visit http://roosterwalk.com.
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RoosterWalk 2016 Coverage: