Blues. Funk. Southern rock. R&B. Bluegrass. The annual Anthem GO Outside Festival not only has races, gear demos, pro-athletes, stunt shows, group rides and runs, and camping, it also features free live music with national touring acts on Friday and Saturday nights. GO Fest has been voted “Best Festival” by Blue Ridge Outdoors readers for five consecutive years, and the nightly shows are a big part of why people love it.
The three-day outdoors festival is Oct. 18-20, at Rivers Edge in Roanoke, VA. This year’s headliner, Andy Frasco & the U.N., hits the Haley Toyota stage for a free concert Saturday, Oct. 19.
Andy Frasco & the U.N. is an American blues rock band that’s been wowing live audiences since 2007. Their third full- length album, Change of Pace, is available now. The group – comprised of Andy Frasco (vocals, keys), Ernie Chang (saxophone), Shawn Eckels (guitar, vocals), and a rotating cast in the U.N. – have performed at festivals alongside icons such as Peter Frampton, Gary Clark Jr., The Revivalists, Snoop Dog, Dr. Dog, Joe Walsh, and Kendrick Lamar. Frasco is also known for his podcast, Andy Frasco’s World Saving Podcast.
“There’s a grungy Bourbon street feel, hard-working and moody New York energy, and that indie California vibe,” Frasco says about his latest recording. “I’m a traveler at the end of the day. I became a musician to travel and give people therapy through music.”
Taking the stage ahead of the main event will be DownTown Abby & the Echoes, featuring a mix of blues and southern rock. Kicking off the live music on Saturday is Chupacabras, seven time-traveling messengers, weaving a mix of old- school surf rock and soul-altering funk.
Saturday isn’t the only day GO Fest will be rockin’. The live music starts Friday shortly after gates open and finishes with Southern Avenue, who describe themselves as a “one-band musical revolution.”
Southern Avenue released its second album, Keep On, this spring and has a style that embodies an effortlessly organic soul/blues/R&B fusion that reflects the band members’ diverse roots as well as their deep commitment to their chosen style.
Other bands on the schedule Friday include local favorite GOTE, guitar-driven psychedelic blues with jamming, textured undertones and harmonically rich melodies, and Mason Via & Hot Trail Mix, a foot-stomping, rising bluegrass band. Music on Friday and Saturday is produced by Across-the-Way Productions, creators of FloydFest, and features winners of FloydFest 2019’s On-the-Rise Competition: DownTown Abby & the Echoes (Winner) and Mason Via & Hot Trail Mix (Runner-Up).
“Our goal is to offer the public the opportunity to try something new and exciting, experience the outdoors, and make memories with friends,” said Patrick Boas, event director and recreation manager at Roanoke’s Department of Parks and Recreation. “Live music is just one more way to showcase the outdoor amenities and overall appeal of the Roanoke Region.”
The weekend music schedule is packed with local and national favorites and GO Fest attendees get to experience it all for free. The weekend’s live music schedule wraps up Sunday with acoustic sets from noon to 5 p.m. with regional songwriters hitting the stage, thanks to coordination of local musician Corey Hunley.
“GO Fest is a music festival and celebration of the outdoors all at once,” said Pete Eshelman, Director of the Roanoke Outside Foundation. “Whether you come to GO Fest to try a kayak or bike, sample a craft beer or menu item from a food truck, showcase your business or organization as a vendor, or just listen to the music, there’s something for everyone.
Events like this show the connected nature of the Roanoke Region and how business, talent, and the outdoors intersect.”
The Anthem GO Outside Festival is a free annual event that encourages healthy outdoor recreation. Organized through a partnership between the Roanoke Outside Foundation and the City of Roanoke’s Department of Parks and Recreation, the three-day event has evolved into one of the nation’s premier outdoor festivals since 2011. Taking place in mid- October annually, the festival features over 100 family-friendly activities, pro athlete demos, races, craft beer, camping, and live music.