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GrassRoots Festival announces 2023 lineup

Dave Burbank Photography
Donna the Buffalo performs on the Infield Stage at the 2022 GrassRoots Festival.

The Finger Lakes GrassRoots Festival of Music and Dance has announced its lineup for this summer’s event, which returns to the Trumansburg Fairgrounds July 20-23.

Hosted by roots-rock band Donna the Buffalo, who founded the festival in 1990, GrassRoots will feature dozens of bands performing on five stages throughout the event, which organizers bill as a “family-friendly camping music festival focused on the sharing of culture through music and dance.”

This year’s headliners include Americana duo Watchhouse (formerly known as Mandolin Orange); Gambian multi-instrumentalist, singer and composer Sona Jobarteh; Grammy Award-winning country-Latin band The Mavericks; Jamaican lyricist Kabaka Pyramid, who won the 2022 Grammy for best reggae album; Ukrainian quartet DakhaBrakha (returning for its fourth appearance); and Jupiter and Okwess from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Longtime festival favorites Keith Frank & The Soileau Zydeco Band, Walter Mouton and the Scott Playboys (both from Louisiana), the Flying Clouds of South Carolina, and Arizona’s Sihasin are scheduled to perform, along with regional returnees the Campbell Brothers, Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad, Driftwood, and Sophistafunk.

Maddy Walsh performs at the 2022 GrassRoots Festival.
Casey Martin
Casey Martin Photography
Maddy Walsh performs at the 2022 GrassRoots Festival.

Ithaca will be well-represented as usual, with Johnny Dowd, the Sim Redmond Band, Gunpoets, Kevin Kinsella, Hank Roberts, Jimkata and Maddy Walsh set to return alongside newcomers Gravestone Glue, the Comb Down, and Microbes, Mostly.

Tickets, along with a complete list of performers, are available at the GrassRoots website. Early-bird rates are now in effect: four-day passes are $149 for adults 16 and up, increasing to $164 after May 1 and to $179 at the gate. Four-day passes are $80 for kids age 13-15, while children 12 and under are admitted free with a parent or guardian. Single-day tickets range from $55 to $78, and camping passes will also be on sale soon.

Read about the 2022 GrassRoots Festival here.

Students gather at the 2022 Culture Camp
Bela Stearns
GrassRoots Festival
Students gather at the 2022 Culture Camp

Culture Camp returns

GrassRoots will also host its annual Culture Camp, held July 16-19, at the Trumansburg Fairgrounds as well. Curated by Donna the Buffalo’s Tara Nevins, the camp will feature classes taught by a lineup of roots-music luminaries in an intimate setting.

This year’s teaching roster includes Zydeco stalwart Preston Frank, multi-instrumentalist Dirk Powell, and guitarist Johnny Nicholas along with members of Donna the Buffalo, The Horse Flies, the Pine Leaf Boys, Richie and Rosie, and Miss Tess and the Talkbacks. Classes will cover singing, songwriting, and musicianship, along with instruction on a variety of instruments.

Four-day Culture Camp passes are $175 in advance, $190 at the gate; single-day tickets are $60 in advance, $70 at the gate. For kids 15 and under, four-day passes are $80 in advance, $90 at the gate; single-day passes are $44 in advance, $49 at the gate.

Culture Camp will also feature nightly themed dances and dinners, which are open to the public separately from the camp. Advance tickets are $40 for the dinner and dance; $15 for just the dance.

Read about the 2022 Culture Camp here.

Jim Catalano covers the Finger Lakes music scene for WITH (90.1 FM in Ithaca, WITHradio.org) and its affiliates.