Rhythm and Roots Festival at the Troy-Hayner Center

Photo: Cincinnati band Buffalo Wabs and the Price Hill Hustle headlines the festival

By Tim Smith

 It’s been said that the soul of man is in his music. Throughout our country’s history, music has always been a vital part of American culture. The Troy-Hayner Center in Troy plans to celebrate our American heritage with the Rhythm and Roots Festival on Sept 23. This is just the latest in a long list of events that the Center sponsors throughout the year.The first Rhythm and Roots Festival was staged in October of 2015. Since then, it has grown to include seven bands performing on two stages, artisan music vendors, food vendors, a pie festival, and this year, a vintage historic vinyl records exhibit. According to Terrilyn Meece of the Troy-Hayner Center, the festival was initially a team decision.

“Almost everything at the Hayner happens because someone gets an idea or someone pitches in and makes something happen,” Meece says. “The Rhythm and Roots festival is a committee-driven event. The first time we got together we knew we wanted a ‘Roots’ festival and the youngest guy there, James Duty, says ‘Why not explore the roots of all of our American genres? Roots ofbluegrass, roots of soul, roots of blues…’ I really thought that would never work! But I talked to everyone I knew about the idea and everyone thought it was a really fresh way to look at it. We decided right away that we would explore the genres as they are today and look for musicians that have evolved along with the genres. Music is a living thing and grows with each generation.”

The planning process for a festival of this magnitude starts well in advance.

“The committee and I began planning about a year ago,” Meece says. “We had to review what we wanted to improve for this festival and follow through on new ideas and directions. Choosing the right musicians takes a lot of time and a lot of patience, but the reward is getting to know these artists and their work. There are always a million details to wrestle into awesomeness but it is always the details that make it awesome. Like adding the Pie Party this year. Really, what could be more American than a Pie Party? I am looking forward to some apple pie more than I care to divulge to you right now. And we are so happy to have the American Root on Vinyl exhibit on the second floor. This exhibit took a great deal of time and detail wrangling but, because the collector Tim Kozul had a vision for what the exhibit would be, he stuck with it and made it happen.”

The musicians slated to appear include Rum River Blend, The New Old-Fashioned Band, Niki D. and the Sisters of Thunder, Terry Harmonica Bean, The Great Northern String Band, Jeremy and Lynne and the Typical Johnsons, and Americana headliner Buffalo Wabs and the Price Hill Hustle.

“We wanted to find a cohesive group of folks that would sound well together in our line-up, but that would also offer interesting points of contrast between each other,” Meece says. “We wanted to support our great regional artists and our own regional music but also to bring artists in from other areas to feed our souls and let us hear their perspective and see and hear what sounds they are evolving in their region. We chose Rum River Blend to open the festival because they are just a cornerstone of Troy. It is hard to live in Troy for very long without coming into contact with Rum River Blend and their open, funny, generous approach to bluegrass. Our headliner, Buffalo Wabs and the Price Hill Hustle, is an Americana group. Americana is one of our newer genres but you will hear a bluegrass sound woven throughout everything they do. They are from Cincinnati, which is a creative mecca in Ohio.”

Putting together an all-day music festival is a significant undertaking filled with challenges, and the Rhythm and Roots Festival is no exception.

“It is always the thing that you least anticipate being a problem,” Meece says. “Some little thing that should take a couple hours but turns into a week and a half, which throws all the important stuff out of whack. The boring stuff is the hardest–the permits, the number of tables you need, making sure there is ice type of details. Any big exciting festival is really made up of a million details.”

In addition to a day filled with music, food, and fun, Meece has one important takeaway for the attendees.

“The idea that music is alive,” she says. “That young people aren’t mistaken or wrong about music–they are evolving and they are evolving our music! We all have a drive within us to say our piece and music is a great way to listen to someone else’s pieces. The Rhythm and Roots Festival is an exploration of the roots of our American musical heritage. By exploring and celebrating our heritage, we learn what we can become.”

The Rhythm and Roots Festival will take place on Sept 23 at the Troy-Hayner Cultural Center, 301 W. Main St., Troy, Ohio from 11 a m to 7 p m. The family friendly event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.TroyHayner.org or call 937.339.0457.

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Tim Smith is an award-winning, bestselling author. Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Smith at TimSmith@DaytonCityPaper.com

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