It’s Deep Roots Y’all
A melodic riff from a blues guitar resonated from the heart of downtown , blending with the giggles of children and the chatter of grownups at Milledgeville’s annual Deep Roots Festival.
On Oct. 20, downtown transformed into a venue for music and arts, sprawling over West Hancock, South Wayne and North Jefferson streets to accommodate the ninth-annual Deep Roots Festival.
On South Wayne Street, a crowd of festival goers congregated at an outdoor marketplace. Art vendors displayed items such as jewelry, pottery, paintings and quilts – all set up in the middle of the street.
“I haven’t been here in several years,” Robin Weinrich, the award-winning artisan and designer of “Reflections by Robin,” said. “Last time I was here, it was Sweetwater. It’s definitely grown; it is definitely a better quality. It is very important for me as an artist that I’m at a place where there is foot-traffic, which there is. They picked a very good weekend – parents weekend – so that was brilliant, and it’s well laid out.”
This year, Weinrich gained recognition at art shows in Canton, winning the merit award, and in Gainesville, where she was awarded second place overall.
Further down the street, residing under a shaded canopy where they set up shop for the day, were ceramic artisans Louise Robertson and Phyllis K. Palmer; this is their first time at Deep Roots.
“This is our first year – we didn’t really know what to expect,” Robertson said. “It’s fabulous.”
Not until recently did Robertson and Palmer begin showing their ceramics at local events in the Athens area. The 90-minute drive to Milledgeville for Deep Roots is the farthest they’ve traveled out of Athens thus far. Their works “Wheezie Works” and “Playn’ the Clay” are two separate brands, but Robertson and Palmer always travel and display their art together.
“There’s so much of a variety,” senior political science major Lee Ann Hughes said. “All kinds of crafts – even things you wouldn’t expect. I loved the wine bottles that were cut in half and shaved down to make candles. A ton of my friends who graduated in May came back for Deep Roots, but I got the candle for a girl friend who couldn’t make it. Deep Roots is something that I will always think of as a favorite college tradition.”
Around 3 p.m. Mayview Road, the first of five headlining bands, initiated the musical lineup with their performance on Deep Root’s main stage across from City Hall. Influences of jazz and blues as well as folk and bluegrass were apparent in their songs.
“It’s a pretty chill scene,” senior accounting major Ashley Lee said. “They seem to cover everything. I’m excited for the rest.”
Baton Rouge native Chris Thomas King was next to stage. Winning both CMA and Grammy awards, he is a reputable icon in the world of blues. It was through the festival’s entertainment committee that Milledgeville was able to host artists such as King.
“We have a wonderful entertainment committee that works year round to find up and coming artists to perform,” Carlee Schulte, Main Street director, said.
The sun gradually faded as The Eclective put together their set.
“I’ve never played at Deep Roots before, so this is like a mini dream-come-true for sure,” Cory Cain, lead vocalist and guitarist of The Eclective, said.
The Eclective is a compilation of artists gathered from the bands Josh Roberts & The Hinges and Stokeswood as well as local bands The Macchios, Elastic Skyline and Bomb Chewey. Each member currently lives in Milledgeville, enabling the band to contribute a distinctly local essence to the night’s lineup.
“Jimmy Holder asked me if I would be interested in putting something together for Deep Roots, and I didn’t really know what he had in mind,” Cain said. “He asked me what I would do if he gave me an hour to do something. I told him I would call four or five of the best people I know for the job, and we would play together for an hour, and it would be awesome – and that’s sort of what happened.”
Brandon Marsolo, lead guitarist, began striking a familiar line of chords as people continued to head toward the pit in front of the stage.
“I don’t know that it’s sunk in yet,” Cain said before the night’s performance. “There are a lot of people. It’s something that I’ve gone to every year, and it’s something that I’ve always wanted to do. I feel okay now – we’ll see in about three hours how I feel. It’s intimidating for sure, but knowing that I have these four people playing with me, I know I don’t have anything to worry about.”
The audience recognized the song.
A large crowd gathered as close to The Eclective as the barrier blocking the stage would allow. Fans sang and moved to the rhythm of the song when Cain hit the chorus to a Cold War Kids cover: “Now hang me up to dry you’ve rung me out too, too, too many times.”
“I have an incredible band that I’m playing with,” Cain said. “It’s exciting to play for something that has been such a part of our community and that people have worked so hard for – we give a local flavor, you know, and show that we like this stuff too. This means a lot to us.”
Transitioning from one local band to another, a trio of heavily bearded men arrived on stage in the form of Dangermuffin. Although these musicians call the shores of Folly Beach home, they are still worthy of the “local” title, as their music is 100 percent organic – locally produced and recorded in their native S.C. home.
Dangermuffin has a sound that categorical restraints cannot accurately define. Their songs exhibit traditional jam-band reggae and funk elements, but they transcend the boundaries of the jam-band genre by fusing bluegrass and folk sounds.
“It was a fantastic event,” Dan Lotti, vocalist and guitarist for Dangermuffin, said. “The streets were overflowing with Georgians opening their minds to new music.”
Streets that only a few hours earlier were flooded with people had more or less emptied, with the exception of the massive audience prepared for the performance by the Louisiana-native band Givers.
“Givers were very high energy and seemed genuinely excited to be here,” Rand Rozier, senior English major, said. “They covered ‘Girlfriend is Better’ by Talking Heads fantastically.”
Givers have gained attention playing at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in April alongside The Black Keys and Radiohead. Their song “Up, Up, Up” was featured on an episode of the show “Glee.”
“My favorite memory this year has to be seeing Givers perform,” Schulte said. “They were a huge hit, and seeing the crowd go wild is always exciting. Just to be a part of this huge venture has always been thrilling to me in general though. … I am very happy with the turnout.”