Roots Report

Folks enjoying Rhythm and Roots festival. (Photo: John Fuzek)

Okee dokee folks… We are coming up on summer, which is festival season. Folks love festivals. But did you all know that festivals usually operate with a large volunteer staff? While some folks are paid — performers, producers, etc. — most of the day-of-show help is volunteer. Why is it this way? Because if festivals had to pay for the vast amount of help they need to operate they would be bankrupt in a minute. As is, festivals have a hard time breaking even. If it is a ticketed event, the ticket cost is usually a bargain compared to the admission price to single act shows. If it is a free-admission event, then the producers are barely scraping by and every dollar counts. You HAVE to pay the performers, that is their livelihood, and some of the production team spends countless, full-time hours on these events. Certain expenses are non-negotiable: port-a-johns, insurance, sound reinforcement, etc. It all adds up. So festivals seek volunteers to help out. In the past, these positions were coveted and hard to get. Nowadays, it is getting increasingly harder for some events to wrangle volunteers.


Many event volunteers tend to be older and retired, which is a good thing as they are usually reliable, knowledgeable, and extremely helpful. The downside is the physical restrictions. Some festival work requires heavy lifting and demanding set-up and breakdown work. More able-bodied, younger folks willing to roll up their sleeves to do a little work for the greater good are what festivals need.
Most folks love music but not everyone can play an instrument or make music. Some may want to be part of a music community but feel because they are not musically inclined they don’t have anything to offer. Trust me, everyone has something to offer — offering your help is the best thing you can do! Being part of a group of dedicated people who make something beautiful builds community.

Two examples of festivals that could use your help are The Rhode Island Folk Festival and Rhythm and Roots. Both have a core of volunteers who have been part of the crews for years but some are aging out. The work isn’t terribly taxing but requires a little “oomph.” Stages need to be set up, gear moved, tents put up, trucks unloaded/loaded, tables, chairs, etc… it all requires some manual labor. The work usually takes place earlier in the day or at the end of a festival, requires just a couple of hours, and is the most crucial part of presenting a festival. Without volunteers, it cannot happen. In some cases there may be compensation but most are strictly volunteer positions.

Please consider offering your help to any event in RI in need of volunteers. You’ll meet a great group of people, be part of something good, and have the satisfaction of knowing you helped make it happen. For more, proffer yourself to: or

Back in the ’70s, FM radio played great music such as Kansas. Most folks first heard of Kansas when “Carry On Wayward Son” hit the airwaves, but they are so much more than that song. Little did people know that Leftoverture was the band’s fourth album and they’d had quite a few songs on the album stations for years. “Can I Tell You” from the first album was one of these songs. There was also the 10-minute long, “Song For America,” the six minute, “Icarus-Borne on Wings of Steel,” and many other prog-rock masterpieces that never made it to the mainstream radio. However, most folks will recall songs like “Dust In The Wind” and “Point of Know Return.” Kansas is now in its 50th year as a band. Though the line-up has changed over the years, the music has maintained the true Kansas sound. They recently released the three-CD compilation Another Fork in the Road, which spans their 50 years of albums, and are currently on tour to celebrate the album and their 50th anniversary. I spoke with one of the two constant members of the band, Rich Williams, for my Roots Report Podcast. Kansas will be at The Providence Performing Arts Center on May 17. For more, take a “Journey from Mariabronn” to:

If “Groovin’,” “It’s A Beautiful Morning,” “Good Love,” “People Got to Be Free,” and “How Can I Be Sure” are on your playlist, then you must be a (Young) Rascals fan. If you want to hear these songs performed live by Felix Cavaliere and The Rascals then you need to get to The Stadium Theatre in Woonsocket on May 18 when the Rascals and The Lovin’ Spoonful hit Woonsocket for a night of oldies favs. I had a chat with Felix for the Roots Report Podcast. For more, “You Better Run” to:

You can listen to my podcasts with Rich Williams and Felix Cavaliere at Thanks for reading and listening.