One look at the lineup for the Lancaster Roots And Blues Festival and you know this is gonna be a good one. Loudon Wainright III, James Cotton, Johnny and Edgar Winter, not to mention the return of Suddenly Tammy’s Beth Sorrentino, the list goes on and on. Local and National acts will converge on Lancaster PA on the 21st and 22nd of February. The range of talent is diverse and exciting. World class horn man Tim Warfield brings his Organ Band to the Ware Center on Friday while around the corner at the Federal Taphouse, Sweet Leda play their brand of Naptown funk. Brave Combo, Steve Guyger and The Excellos, guitarist Gennaro Porcelli from Italy, this shit is just plain crazy!
I meet promoter and former Chameleon Club owner Rich Ruoff at Cafe Di Vetro to get some of the lowdown on this extravaganza.
TSI: This is a pretty ambitious project. You had a “kickstarter” in the beginning.
Rich Ruoff: Yes,that started and that went well, we hit our budget. Kickstarter was kind of an emotional thing that got people talking about it. We raised some extra money which was nice and it definitely got the buzz going.
TSI: I remember you always doing a blues festival or weekend when you had Chameleon. How did the process for this begin?
RR: About this time last year I started thinking something like this could work and I formed it into the Lancaster Roots And Blues. I knew I needed a year to make it happen and in actuality could have used a year and a half but, there you go.
TSI: So you are doing things at Tellus 360 and the Convention Center; what other venues are you using around town?
RR: The Ware Center two stages, the Convention Center two stages, Chameleon Club two stages, Tellus two stages and the Federal Taphouse. Five venues with nine stages. The goal will be to grow it in future years.
TSI: You are offering a really good ticket price as well.
RR: Yes, it’s $69 for the weekend $35 per night. Considering the level of artists that are coming, thats an amazing value.
TSI: Tickets just went live last Friday. How has the response been?
RR: It’s just been amazing. A lady ordered $700 worth of tickets today.
TSI: You have been promoting shows for about thirty years – what keeps you going?
RR: It’s all about booking a band and them having that special night when they are really on and connect with the audience. I got lucky early and booked Dickie Betts at the Chameleon Club in I think December of 1985. To this day it was the best show I’ve ever seen in my life anywhere. It was a magical night. Having tasted that young and early it was like, thats the goal, thats the goal all the time. What’s also really fun is to watch a young band who doesn’t get to play that much when it really starts to come together for them.
TSI: So that leads to my next question. What young or unknown acts should we be looking out for at Lancaster Roots And Blues?
RR: Parker Millsap I’m absolutely ga-ga about. He’s 22 years old from Oklahoma and is the second coming of folk. Also, Lake Street Dive. They are going to be on the Colbert Report two weeks prior and their video on You-Tube has gotten over a million hits.
TSI: Any other surprises you want to talk about?
RR: Well, Johnny Winter is playing Saturday night in the big room at the Convention Center on his 70th birthday. James Cotton will be jamming with him all night and there probably will some special guests show up. I won’t confirm anything yet but you can use your imagination.”
Yes I can and it doesn’t take too much imagining to know what an incredible weekend of music this will be. For more info check out the website HERE