The annual American Roots Music Festival offers a day full of folk, country, bluegrass, gospel, blues, singer/songwriter, string band, old time, and everything in between. Multiple award winning banjo and fiddle player Rhiannon Giddens headlines with her masterful blend of Americana genres and dazzling vocal prowess. Sarah Jarosz, 2017 Grammy Award winner, Texas songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, returns with her new trio. Join us for an enchanting day of exploration and discovery.
Evening Headliners 7:30pm
The Mammals (feat. Mike + Ruthy)
The Lonely Heartstring Band
Anthony da Costa
Cole Quest & The City Pickers
The Brother Brothers
Eddie Barbash Band
NERFA presents Young Folk Brian Dunne, more TBA
Getting to Caramoor
Taking the train? We’ll give you a lift! Free Metro-North Katonah Shuttle beginning at 11:00am.
Enhance your Caramoor experience.
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It was toward the end of a celebration of the early ’60s folk revival when singer Rhiannon Giddens indisputably stole the show. Performing Odetta’s “Water Boy” with, as the New York Times put it, “the fervor of a spiritual, the yips of a folk holler, and the sultry insinuation of the blues,” Rhiannon brought the star-studded audience to its feet. She was the talk of the lobby during intermission as those attendees unfamiliar with her Grammy Award–winning work as a member of African-American folk interpreters Carolina Chocolate Drops wondered who exactly Rhiannon Giddens was, with her elegant bearing, prodigious voice, and fierce spirit.
Reviving, interpreting, and recasting traditional material from a variety of sources has been central to Rhiannon’s career, especially in her groundbreaking work with the Carolina Chocolate Drops (CCDs). The CCDs have investigated and promoted the foundational role African-American performers and songwriters have played in folk-music history, while making recordings that are vital, contemporary, and exuberant. Now, Rhiannon has embarked on a more personal sort of journey, but with a nod towards history as well. She has a broad array of songs associated with the female artists who are her musical and spiritual forebears and has fashioned an album that serves both as patchwork autobiography and as a subtle tribute to those artists and their often hard-won legacies.
“I really like that word,” Sarah Jarosz says of the title of Undercurrent, her fourth Sugar Hill album. “If you look up the definition, it’s ‘an underlying feeling or influence’ or ‘a flow of water moving below the surface.’ To me, that really encompasses the feeling behind this record.”
That evocative imagery is appropriate for Undercurrent, whose 11 original songs seem to reveal new lyrical depth and sonic nuance with every listen. A gifted multi-instrumentalist, a singularly expressive vocalist and a songwriter of rare insight, Sarah Jarosz has been described by The New York Times as “one of acoustic music’s most promising young talents: a singer-songwriter and mandolin and banjo prodigy with the taste and poise to strike that rare balance of commercial and critical success.”
While Undercurrent is a creative landmark for Jarosz, she’s been making music for most of her life. Growing up in Wimberley, Texas, she began singing in early childhood. Receiving a mandolin for Christmas when she was nine years old, she worked tirelessly to master the instrument, and learned to play guitar and clawhammer banjo along the way. When she was 11, she performed at her first bluegrass festival; over the next few years, she gained an impressive reputation as a young phenom on the festival circuit, absorbing a world of traditional influences while honing her own highly original songwriting sensibility.
“From an early age, I’ve had a strong desire to create music,” Jarosz states. “I was also fortunate to be surrounded by older, accomplished musicians who were my mentors. From the very beginning, all of my heroes looked out for me and challenged me in the best ways. It was great being raised in music that way. I always felt completely supported, and I think that that attitude affected the way I approach music now.”
Jarosz spent much of 2015 touring widely as one-third of I’m With Her, the mini-supergroup she shares with kindred spirits Sara Watkins and Aoife O’Donovan. “After singing my own songs for so many years, it was eye-opening to shift gears and be a part of something different,” Jarosz observes. “We’ve only been a band for a year, but I’ve learned so much from it already, and I definitely brought some of those lessons to Undercurrent.
“I’m just trying to become more focused and more honest, and trying to be a better listener and observer of the world around me,” she asserts. “That’s what I tried to do on Undercurrent, and I’m really pleased with how true this record feels to me. In some ways, it feels like my first record, in the sense that it was the first time I could focus all of my energy on it. Everything felt like it was leading to this moment.”
The Mammals (feat. Mike + Ruthy)
Mike + Ruthy, touring American folk act and founders of The Mammals are bringing back the band name that energized crowds in the 00’s and gave them their start. “We’ve always been Mammals at heart,” laughs Ruth Ungar, the band’s soulful singer and fiddler. “The music we’re making has the same old-time and Americana roots, and our lyrics have gotten more political again.” It’s true, The Mammals’ were known for their rabble-rousing musical statements which sometimes caused a stir with politically divided audiences from Louisiana to Michigan. “If you tell the whole truth you won’t please everyone,” smiles Mike Merenda. He’s the songwriter and guitar/banjo player who’s 2004 Mammals anthem “The Bush Boys” made the Dixie Chicks seem downright polite.
This time around their goals remain two-fold: raise positive social awareness & have a good party! In their recent tenure as “Mike + Ruthy” they began a home-town festival near Woodstock, NY called The Hoot which exemplifies these ideals. Pete Seeger, who performed at the inaugural Summer Hoot wrote “Dear Mike + Ruthy, your Hoot was one of the best song gatherings I’ve seen in all my 94 years.” Perhaps it was the multi-generational celebration, the hand-built wooden stage, or the re-usable pint cups – either way, these musicians take pride in the small details that make a big difference.
“Our lives are about building community and growing together everywhere we go,” says Ungar. In addition to organizing festivals, Mike + Ruthy have spent the past 9 years raising their two young children and recording and touring behind 5 albums that say things like, “wherever the good energy is, that’s where I wanna raise my kids,” “some people wanna tell you that you shouldn’t even try / but I wanna tell you that’s a lie,” and “you’ve got to be as bright as you can.”
Back in 2001, The Mammals originated as a partnership between Ungar, Merenda and Tao Rodriguez-Seeger (Pete’s grandson) and later grew to include other players. The 2017 lineup will include some former Mammal members including Jacob Silver and Ken Maiuri when they are not touring with Lee Fields and the B-52’s respectively. “It’s a blessing to have a connection to the past and such great new players too,” says Mike. “The alchemy of fiddle, banjo, guitar, bass and drums is magic… and when keys, pedal steel, and horns are in the mix we leap to the next level.”
The Mammals has released a rowdy live-in-the-living-room video of the song “On My Way Home” and are digitally sharing a pair of topical tunes, “Culture War” and “Beautiful One” from their website themammals.love this Spring.
Stay tuned for more news on the next full record, slated for release in early 2018. They’re in the studio capturing road-tested songs that like “Maple Leaf” and “When My Story Ends,” experimental journeys like “I Dreamed” and “Open the Door” and some brand new beauties and foot-stompers to boot.
When River Whyless set out to write We All The Light, its three original members – O’Keefe, Anderson and McWalters – were already accustomed to “collaborating” with each other. Collaboration is a word often used to glamorize a much less appealing process: compromise. It’s a give and take, a back and forth, an amendment of individual visions for the sake of something greater. With We All The Light, River Whyless bought into that process.
In O’Keefe and Anderson the Asheville, NC band already had two accomplished songwriters. In McWalters, an idiosyncratic percussionist, but when Shearin joined the band in 2012, River Whyless acquired not only an accomplished bass player and multi-instrumentalist, but also a third singer/songwriter. The result was a period of creative gestation wherein the band’s four distinct musical voices struggled to coalesce into a single vision.
At its core, We All The Light is still very much a folk album. The global music influence is subtle, but significant in that it ties the record together, if not sonically, then spiritually. With three superlative singers and songwriters in O’Keefe, Anderson and Shearin, River Whyless consciously worked to blur the designation of a lead singer on We All The Light, deftly blending the three voices throughout the record. The trio’s vocals intertwine and layer together with gorgeous harmonies, rarely working alone.
The band’s music has already gained fans in the press. NPR Music’s Bob Boilen says the “immensely talented band from Asheville, N.C., was my favorite discovery at this year’s Americana Music Festival. River Whyless builds its music around fiddle, guitar and harmonies, with imagination and textures that set the band apart from many of its acoustic and folk-based peers.” Paste called their self-titled EP one of the best of 2015, saying “sometimes it can be hard to stand out in the crowd when you’re producing experimental folk rock. Plenty of groups are capable of harmonizing well and turning simplistic rhythms into infectious anthems, but it’s rare to find artists who can evoke as much emotion as River Whyless.” River Whyless will make their Newport Folk Festival debut this summer, and also return to the Americana Music Festival in Nashville.
The Lonely Heartstring Band
Nourished by deep roots in the expansive canon of traditional American music, The Lonely Heartstring Band embodies the modern American condition—an understanding and reverence for the past that informs a push into the future. This multi-talented group of musicians is a Bluegrass quintet insofar as they’re far greater than the sum of its parts, but unlike a traditional Bluegrass band, their music stretches far beyond any genre-specific title. Combining soulful instrumental virtuosity with soaring three-part harmonies, their growing repertoire of original songs and compositions showcases not only their considerable talents, but a dedication to meaningful roots-conscious music.
Since their beginnings in 2012, The Lonely Heartstring Band has been on the rise and shows no sign of slowing down. With their 2015 IBMA Momentum Award and the imminent release of their debut full-length album on the legendary Rounder Records label, there is every reason to believe that they are at the front edge of a significant career.
Already they have generated a devoted following of music-lovers across North America, performing and headlining at major music festivals and historic venues from Western Canada to California, from Kentucky to New Hampshire. Whether it’s a festival stage, theatre, or intimate listening room, The Lonely Heartstring Band always delivers a dynamic, diverse, and heartfelt performance. Over the last three years of touring, the band has crafted shows that generate a genuine connection and bring crowds to their feet.
Eager to hit the road again in 2016, The Lonely Heartstring Band will continue bringing thoughtful, energetic, and memorable performances to audiences across the country and around the world.
Upon releasing her 2014 album, Ease My Mind, singer-songwriter Michaela Anne garnered considerable acclaim for her introspective songwriting. The New York Times praised the “plain-spoken songs of romantic regret and small-town longing” and the Village Voice listed it among its Top 5 Country Albums of the year. Since then, however, this once-solitary diarist has transformed herself into a gregarious storyteller. Michaela Anne has discovered her inner extrovert.
Having recently relocated from Brooklyn to Nashville, Michaela Anne took advantage of the collaborative writing opportunities in Nashville. She’d met the Grammy-nominated producer Dave Brainard after opening for singer Brandi Clark at the Highline Ballroom in Manhattan. Michaela Anne and Brainard had a lot in common: they both were raised in very disciplined military families but were drawn to the more freewheeling world of the musician. Their collaboration also illustrates the two sides of her second album, Bright Lights and the Fame. It’s both pensive and tender and upbeat and swinging.
Bright Lights and the Fame was produced by Dan Knobler, a guitarist who’d often performed live with Michaela Anne. Along with producer Knobler, a few more Brooklyn ex-pats join Michaela Anne on Bright Lights and the Fame. Punch Brother banjoist Noam Pikelney, singer Kristin Andreassen, Corey Chisel and Erin Rae, and Rodney Crowell.
Given her dad’s military service, Michaela Anne’s upbringing was an itinerant one. As she recalls, “Growing up, I felt like a chameleon. I wanted to quickly fit in wherever I could. And that informed my musical tastes, I liked everything. My dad loved country and so did I, but I also listened to pop and hip-hop. I was a typical kid of the nineties and the early oughts.” Coming on her own to New York City, she enrolled in the School of Jazz at the New School in Manhattan, thinking that jazz was where her talent lied, but a chance introduction to the Brooklyn-based folk-bluegrass guitarist Michael Daves, who tutored some of her fellow students as part of their curriculum, changed her musical path forever. “I went to his house and we would transcribe harmony parts from Bill Monroe records. He taught me bluegrass harmony and we would sing together. And then he helped me pick out my first guitar and he taught me how to play it.”
The new album from young African-Canadian roots phenom Kaia Kater couldn’t come at a better time. As a new generation takes the reins, American roots music is needed more than ever to remind us of the troubled pathways of our own history. Born of African-Caribbean descent in Québec, Kaia Kater grew up between two worlds: one her family’s deep ties to Canadian folk music in her Toronto home; the other the years she spent learning and studying Appalachian music in West Virginia. Her acclaimed debut album Sorrow Bound (May 2015) touched on this divide, but her new album, Nine Pin (May 2016), delves even further, and casts an unflinching eye at the realities faced by people of colour in North America every day. Her songs on the new album are fueled by her rich low tenor vocals, jazz-influenced instrumentation, and beautifully understated banjo, and they’ve got as much in common with Kendrick Lamar right now as they do with Pete Seeger.
Born in Montreal, Kaia has lived Winnipeg, Wakefield and, most recently, West Virginia, she now resides in Toronto. Her old-time banjo-picking skills, deft arrangements, and songwriting abilities have landed her in the spotlight in North America and the UK, garnering critical acclaim from outlets such as Rolling Stone, CBC Music and The Roots Music Report. Often praised for her capacity to sound new and old at once, Kaia anchors her music the space where tradition and innovation intersect.
Seeing a Spuyten Duyvil (pronounced “SPITE-en DIE+vul”) show for the first time is like “throwing a cherry bomb into a lake” (Rich Warren, WFMT). It wakes you up. Their brand of original and traditional American Roots music blends Olde Time, Blues, 2nd Line, Bluegrass, and Folk Rock with a pinch of Punk Rock energy to create a uniquely modern mix. Lead by song-writing couple, Mark Miller and Beth Kaufman, this six piece powerhouse brings barn burning energy to venues throughout the East Coast and Midwest. Drop them on a large festival stage and they electrify the crowd. Place them in a listening room and their stripped down acoustic sets connect powerfully.
Riding high on their International Folk Music Awards Album Of The Year nomination, 2016 was a year of great adventures for Spuyten Duyvil. Their American Embassy backed tour of Israel featured two headlining sets at the Jacob’s Ladder Festival on the Sea of Galilee. US dates found the band playing intimate acoustic house concerts, rockin’ electric sets on big festival stages and every kind of place in between. In addition to many return engagements (Philly Folk Fest, Caramoor’s ARMF, New Bedford FF), they debuted headlining the South Florida Folk Festival, in Vermont at Roots On The River and shared the main stage of Long Island’s Great South Bay Music Festival with Blues Traveler. Past venues of note include Citi Field, The Krannart Center For The Performing Arts, Levitt Pavilions Steel Stacks, Musikfest, Clearwater, and the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival.
In showcasing the music of Mississippi John Hurt, Elizabeth Cotten, Woody Guthrie and Big Bill Broonzy here and abroad, the album’s title has become a guiding philosophy. “Social Music” represents Spuyten Duyvil’s commitment to sharing stages, engaging creatively with friends and strangers and taking tradition off the pedestal into the here and now. Reinventing traditional songs, they honor the folk process and transform the audience from listeners to participants and owners.
In addition to the IFMA nomination, “The Social Music Hour Vol. 1” has received a lot of love on the radio with airplay on over 250 stations worldwide including rotation on SiriusXM’s The Village, #4 Album, the #8 Artist and #7 of the Top 100 songs on the 2015 Annual International Folk DJ Airplay Chart, #2 album on Airplay Directs’ monthly AAA chart, #2 on The Roots Music Report’s Traditional Folk Chart with #1 and #2 Songs on May’s Roots Music Report’s Contemporary Folk Chart.
Their 2013 CD, Temptation made it to #7 on the Folk DJ Chart in it’s first full month out. “I’ll Fly Away” grabbed the #2 song spot. Temptation also made it to the top #20 on the Roots Music Report and into the top #30 on the Roots 66 Airplay Chart. Their 2011 release New Amsterdam landed on a dozen DJ Top 10 lists and received a nomination for the Alternate Root TV’s “2011 Top American Roots Album.”
Anthony da Costa
Anthony da Costa is a 26-year-old singer/songwriter/guitarist living in Nashville, TN. Originally hailing from Pleasantville, NY, Anthony has been writing and performing his songs since he was 13 years old. At the age of 16, Anthony became the youngest winner ever of both the Falcon Ridge and Kerrville Folk Festival songwriting competitions. He has released 8 albums and 3 EP’s to date. His latest release is DA COSTA, which was recorded in Austin, TX and features his music in an electric format. Sing Out! Magazine once called him “an outstanding writer of plainspoken Americana.”
Anthony has opened for the likes of Loretta Lynn, Dan Bern, Judy Collins, Suzanne Vega, Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation), John Moreland, Kenny Loggins, and other awesome folks like that. He played guitar in a band called Nancy and Beth, featuring actor/singers Megan Mullally (Will and Grace) and Stephanie Hunt. That band has played some amazing stages, including CONAN on TBS. Anthony has toured as a guitarist and harmony singer with Aoife O’Donovan (Crooked Still), Jimmy LaFave, and now the Grammy Award-winning songwriter Sarah Jarosz. He’s appeared at numerous festivals such as the Newport Folk Festival, Sasquatch, Tønder (Denmark) and Celtic Connections (Scotland).
Cole Quest & The City Pickers
Cole Quest and The City Pickers are a group of New York City musicians connected by friendship and a love of bluegrass. Cole Quest, grandson of the folk icon Woody Guthrie, has brought together a collection of eclectic pickers who have gained recognition on the local scene. Performing both Quest’s original tunes as well as traditional favorites, The City Pickers bring their special brand of high-spirited talent to the stage, with up-beat, knee slapping energy and a high lonesome sound that’ll leave you wanting more.
After recording at NYC’s renowned Magic Shop studio, by Grammy award winning producer Steve Rosenthal, they released their debut album in late July. Having shared bills with acts such as Sierra Hull, Billy Strings & Don Julin, The Brothers Comatose, The Lil Smokies, Whiskey Shivers, Lucinda Williams, Parker Millsap and Michael Daves, you can catch them playing all over the northeast region.
The Brother Brothers
Brooklyn based fiddler and songster Adam Moss’ musical career can most easily be characterized by the variance of his influence. Adam loves and plays in the Klezmer, Bluegrass, Old-time and swing traditions which lends itself to a very unique and innovative style in performance setting. He is actively touring with Boston’s Session Americana, Brooklyns The Defibulators, Ana Egge, and has formerly toured with Anais Mitchell’s “Hadestown,” and Texas’ 3 Redneck Tenors.
Originally from Peoria, IL, David Moss began his musical journey playing cello and singing in various formats from a very young age. After receiving a degree in cello performance from the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign), he moved to Austin, TX in 2007 where he immediately formed with the trio The Blue Hit. There, David attended the Kerrville Folk Festival, and before long was playing guitar and writing songs. By the summer 2011 he was a finalist in the prestigious New Folk competition and went on to become a winner.
On his album “Bag of Bones” which was released in 2010, David has a gruff voice as a result of a Granuloma on his vocal chords. In November 2012, however he underwent surgery and has rejoined with his old and original vocal timbre. He is currently living in Brooklyn, NY and performing his songs in various formats with his twin brother Adam Moss and continuing his cello career playing and composing with The Blue Hit as well as groups such as the Satellite Ballet, Moishe Circus, The Broken Stares, Ana Egge, Roy Williams, and The Human Hands, and many others.
David released his album Songs for Willoughby in March 2014, and his breakout hit “Jerusalem” was featured on Democracy Now! in July 2014.
Eddie Barbash Band
Eddie Barbash plays American roots music on alto saxophone. He is a founding member of Jon Batiste Stay Human, the house band for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. He has performed with stars in almost every genre: jazz with Wynton Marsalis, classical with Yo-Yo Ma, rock with Lenny Kravitz, country with Vince Gill, funk with Parliament, He brings his horn and sensibility to Texas and Appalachian fiddle tunes, bluegrass, old time, R&B, soul, and classic New Orleans.
He has performed at major festivals worldwide. He debuted at Carnegie Zankel Hall with Stay Human in 2013. His portrait graced the t-shirt for the Newport Jazz Festival two years later. In New York City he has led residencies at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, the Django, and the Manderley Bar in Chelsea. He currently leads his orchestra Saturday nights at the Roxy Hotel in TriBeca. He has taught master classes at Carnegie Hall.
His luminous sound and creative vitality first caught the attention of legendary drummer Chico Hamilton, who invited him to join his sextet when he was 19 (70 years younger than Chico) and a freshman at The Juilliard School. He began playing with Batiste the same year (2008). New York Times critic Ben Ratliff in a review of a performance at the Rubin Museum that fall described him as “gifted, young and driven.” He was raised in Oaxaca, Mexico, Atlanta, Georgia and Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He is 27 and lives in Brooklyn.
NERFA presents Young Folk featuring…
“A pure, expressive voice and a fondness for lonesome steel guitar” – CMT Edge
Raised in New York, folk rock singer/songwriter Brian Dunne’s music has won the attention and praise of many. With his sharp lyrical prowess and country-influenced vocals, Brian has played in the U.S. scene far and wide.
On February 17th, 2015, Brian released his full length debut Songs From The Hive, which garnered praise from CMT, Songwriting Magazine, and countless others. He will release his sophomore record on May 12, 2017 entitled Bug Fixes & Performance Improvements.