Lancaster Roots And Blues,the great music festival that warmed the hearts of so many music lovers in the midst of last year’s Polar Vortex, returns on Friday, February 6th and Saturday, February 7th this year. Festival creator/promoter Rich Ruoff who, was already in “crazy mode” when I touched base with him last summer was kind enough to grant me some phone time so I could get the skinny on this year’s event. Based on the success of Roots And Blues #1, I wanted to know what it was like working on this sophomore season.
Randy Bee: What was your goal for this year’s festival?
Rich Ruoff: Besides putting on another great weekend of music I wanted to have double the attendance.It looks like we are pretty close to getting there.
RB: Last year you had a Kickstarter fund to help you get funded.Was it easier this year to get support?
RR: Last year I went around to potential sponsors and they were like,”that’s cool” but wouldn’t pull the trigger. This year we have a 64 page program and all the ad space is booked.
RB: Last year’s line-up had a lot of name recognition with both Winter brothers, James Cotton, and Loudon Wainwright the 3rd, plus there was buzz about Lake Street Dive and Parker Milsap. What are your thoughts on this year’s roster of artists?
RR: This year’s line-up is equally as strong! It’s always a balancing act between name acts and lesser known artists. Like last year we have a diversity of genres. There is more Bluegrass this year and a good dose of Rock and Roll. We are exactly where we want to be in terms of great entertainment.
RB: So,of course the question begs,who should folks search out that they might not be as familiar with?
RR: Jason Ricci is a wonderful harp player who is internationally known and plays all over and is a favorite of true blues enthusiasts. Von Smith is just a great vocalist in the mold of the classic pop crooners. Nikki Hill is a powerful blues and R+B singer who can also rock out. I predict someday she will be on a level with Shameika Copleland, and, though she is more well known, you cant’t forget Iris DeMent, who we are thrilled to have on the bill.
RB: How about some of the name acts?
RR: Well, of course you have to mention Kim Simmonds and Savoy Brown, and, don’t forget Iron Butterfly! We do a lot of promoting on Facebook and Kim Simmonds was #1 in hits until we announced Iron Butterfly.
RB: Yes,Iron Butterfly! How did that happen?
RR: They contacted me and said they were in the studio recording new material and were getting ready to go out on tour and wanted our Festival to be the first show. We were already booked up so I said well, maybe next year and hung up the phone. I though about it for a second and called them back and booked them for the Convention Center main stage on Saturday afternoon.
RB: You also have more venues this year.
RR: The Lancaster Trust is just a great theatre with wonderful sound. We are also doing shows at the Elks Lodge and The Lancaster Dispensing Company.
RB: It should simply be another great Festival and a fantastic event Lancaster.
RR: I plan to do this thing for another 30 years and make it better each time.
For more info and advance tickets go to the website. http://lancasterrootsandblues.com/