Ten years is a milestone for any festival.
This year, Rooster Walk Music & Arts Festival – the annual musical gathering in Martinsville, Virginia, celebrates is 10th birthday with a rich and wildly eclectic line up of musicians, including JJ Grey & Mofro, The Wood Brothers, Robert Randolph & The Family Band, Dustbowl Revival, The Mantras, Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds, Jerry Douglas Band, and many, many more!
At the heart of Rooster Walk is the wide range of bands and collaborative sets you can see over the festival’s four-day run. Two particular sets have caught our attention here at Trail Mix – King & Strings on Friday and The Last Yaltz on Sunday. The former has youthful guitar giants Billy Strings and Marcus King joining forces to create a display of guitar wizardry you will not likely find at any other festival this summer, while the latter has Yarn and a cadre of special guests paying tribute to The Band’s iconic work. Both appear to be can’t miss events for festival goers.
Also featured at the festival will be an incredible selection of libations, food, and artisans from around the region.
I recently caught up with Jeremy Darrow, a longtime friend of mine and bassist for bluegrass outfit (and RW10 performer) Front Country, to chat about playing Rooster Walk, must have gear for the festival circuit, and who you should definitely catch on stage when you head to RW10.
BRO – Do you remember the first festival set you played with Front Country? How did it go?
JD – My first festival set – and first ever gig – with Front Country was at the String Break Festival in Brooksville, Florida. I’m not sure how it would compare to how we sound now, but it was a lot of fun. I had just met most of the band at that time and we bonded over sets by Steep Canyon Rangers and Balsam Range.
BRO – Afternoon set or late night set? What’s your druthers?
JD – I generally prefer late night sets. But if the crowd is fired up in the middle of the day, it can be hard to tell the difference. It all comes down to getting the energy back that you’re putting out. It’s easy to stay stoked if the crowd is on its feet and dancing.
BRO – Favorite festival memory as a fan?
JD – I’ve got some great festival memories. One that has really been on my mind recently was seeing Levon Helm at Merlefest in 2008. He brought a vibe that you could feel everywhere all weekend. Everyone was happy and bringing their A-game to their own sets because he was around. His set was incredible, one of the most joyful performances I’ve ever experienced. That’s something you can’t fake. It takes the genuine article to radiate joy and love like that.
BRO – One piece of gear that you can’t hit the festival circuit without?
JD – I can’t get through festival season without sunglasses. I lost my favorite pair of many years two months ago and finally replaced them. Original Wayfarers all the way.
BRO – Other than Front County, who is your can’t miss artist at Rooster Walk this week?
JD – Of course, you can’t miss Front Country! We play Thursday night at 7:30 on the Pine Grove Stage. Also, don’t miss our buddies Fireside Collective. They’re a killer young band from Western North Carolina and they’re on fire. My buddy Jay Starling is an artist-at-large, too. Anything he’s getting into will be worth catching.
Check out tracks from Front Country, Fireside Collective, and a whole bunch of other artists on our very own “BRO’s Ten Artists For Rooster Walk 10” playlist on Spotify! Take an early listen below so you can plan your weekend accordingly!
For more information on the bands playing Rooster Walk, ticket purchasing, or the schedule, please bounce over to the festival’s website.
Win a pair of Four-Day Passes To Rooster Walk!
Want to snag a couple tickets to the festival? Take a crack at the trivia question below. One winner will be selected tomorrow, May 23, at noon. The question is…
Artist-at-large Jay Starling is the son of a founding member of what legendary bluegrass band?