May 13, 2019
Caramoor’s American Roots Music Festival, a family favorite all-day homegrown music event taking place in every corner and every venue of Caramoor’s idyllic campus, returns for its ninth season on Saturday, June 22, with a crowd-pleasing mixture of folk, country, bluegrass, gospel, blues, old time, and a few folk fusion surprises thrown in. The Milk Carton Kids—known for quirky humor, tight harmonies and stellar musicianship—headline the event backed by a full band; in addition, Amythyst Kiah, a guitarist and singer who returns to Caramoor after a standout daytime set in last season’s festival, opens the evening performance. As with much of Caramoor’s programming, the festival’s emphasis is on rising star performers who are not regularly heard in the area, and this year’s daytime acts include Deva Mahal, Bumper Jacksons, Rainbow Girls, Youth in a Roman Field, Oliver the Crow, Damn Tall Buildings, Our Band, Bethlehem and Sad Patrick, and square dancing with Porch Stomp Revue. More roots music can be heard on July 27, when “two monsters of the banjo” (NPR), Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn, play an intimate show together in the Spanish Courtyard. Finally, three world music concerts punctuate the summer: Tribu Baharú (June 21), BUIKA (June 29), and Russian Renaissance (July 11). Concert ticket raffles, food and drink, and much more make the festival the ideal, kid-friendly opportunity for a family exploration of Caramoor with picnics packed and ears open.
American Roots Music Festival
The Milk Carton Kids have often invited comparison: to Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, for the inventive intertwining of their acoustic guitars; to Simon and Garfunkel, for the intricacy of their harmonies; and to the Smothers Brothers, for their goofy deadpan humor onstage. But since joining forces in 2011, Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan have carved out a unique niche all their own in the American indie folk scene. They have five albums to their credit, the first two of which were notoriously released for free, and three of which earned Grammy nominations. They have toured with Punch Brothers and Sarah Jarosz, performed on Austin City Limits, and been featured in the concert film documentary Another Day/Another Time: Celebrating the Music of Inside Llewyn Davis, alongside Joan Baez, Jack White, Gillian Welch, Marcus Mumford, Punch Brothers and many other folk legends. In 2014 they won Best Duo/Group of the Year from the Americana Music Association. Headlining the annual American Roots Music Festival on June 22, they perform with a full band, echoing the forces on their latest album, All the Things That I Did and All the Things That I Didn’t Do, helmed by multiple Grammy-winning producer Joe Henry. About that project, Pitchfork explains: “After years of making somber, traditionalist folk on dueling acoustic guitars, Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan expand their palette on the duo’s most engaging and diverse record to date.” NPR notes that the album “is meant to reflect several years’ worth of upheaval in the duo’s lives, from Ryan having kids to Pattengale surviving cancer and ending a relationship,” but that any resulting world-weariness is offset by “the sun-dappled beauty of two voices, perfectly paired.”
Also on the evening concert, Tennessee-based multi-instrumentalist Amythyst Kiah showcases her raw, hypnotic old-time sound steeped in the stories of African-American roots music. A professed “Southern Gothic songster,” Kiah has self-released two critically acclaimed albums and performed at the Kennedy Center, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, Cambridge Folk Festival, Southern Fried Festival, Edinburgh Jazz Festival, and Winnipeg Folk Festival, among many others. In 2018 she was invited to tour with Grammy Award-winner Rhiannon Giddens and the Indigo Girls, after which she collaborated with Giddens, Leyla McCalla and Allison Russell on the powerful quartet project Songs of Our Native Daughters. As the New York Times declares of Kiah: “Her razor-sharp guitar picking alone guarantees her a place among blues masters, but it’s her deep-hued voice that can change on a dime from brushed steel to melted toffee that commands attention,” and Rolling Stone calls her “one of roots music’s most exciting emerging talents.”
Among the other confirmed artists this summer are the legendary Taj Mahal’s daughter Deva Mahal, “a vocalist who can wring power from every note” (Bandcamp); Bumper Jacksons, a self-proclaimed “hot and sweet” six-piece Americana band with horns and pedal steel; California-based multi-instrumental trio Rainbow Girls, who describe their sound as being “like a gang of sweet angels punching you in the heart”; Youth In A Roman Field, a New York City-based “bastardized string quartet meets folk band meets jazz combo”; and Oliver the Crow, a fiddle-cello duo that NPR Music calls “an inspired collaboration.” Additional sets come from Damn Tall Buildings, “The Carter Family for the millennial generation” (Boston Globe); Our Band, consisting of first generation Russian-American vocalist and keyboardist Sasha Papernik and North Carolina native vocalist and guitarist Justin Poindexter, fresh from a tour of Poland, Germany and Estonia as ambassadors of American music for the U.S. State Department; Philly vocal and guitar duo Bethlehem and Sad Patrick, which “blends the focused minimalism and poetic lyrics of folk tradition with simmering, freewheeling jazz and blues” (WXPN, Philadelphia); and Porch Stomp Revue, a New York City-based folk collective organizing a square dancing event at this summer’s Roots Festival.
Banjo masters Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn, crowned “the king and queen of the banjo” by Paste Magazine, have a distinct style that stretches “beyond bluegrass, across continents, and into everything from prog-rock to Eastern instrumentation” (NPR). Their 2016 self-titled debut won the Grammy for Best Folk Album, and a follow-up album, Echo in the Valley, was released in 2017. Fleck, a 16-time Grammy Award-winning banjo pioneer, has collaborated at Caramoor with partners as varied as the Brooklyn Rider string quartet, the Marcus Roberts Trio, and Malian singer-songwriter Oumou Sangaré, while Washburn played an early incarnation of Caramoor’s American Roots Music Festival in 2010 (the “New Shoots Festival”) (July 27).
World music this summer comes from Russia, Colombia, and Equatorial Guinea by way of Spain and Miami, with all three acts making Caramoor debuts. BUIKA, a Grammy-nominated Spanish singer born of Equatoguinean parents and who was named one of NPR’s “50 Great Voices” of the world, brings to Caramoor a musical fusion of jazz, flamenco, pop, soul and African polyrhythm (June 29). Colombia’s Tribu Baharú proudly champions champeta, a high-energy hybrid of Colombian, African and Afro-Caribbean styles that was eclipsed in the 1990s by Reggaeton but is enjoying a transformed and expanded resurgence in Colombia’s capital (June 21). And Russian Renaissance, a fast-ascending virtuosic quartet playing traditional Russian folk instruments with a contemporary flair, was catapulted to international fame after winning First Prize at the 69th Coupe Mondiale in Russia in 2016 and the prestigious M-Prize Competition in 2017. In March of last year the group was named Musical America’s “New Artist of the Month” (July 11).
Rosen House Tours
The historic Rosen House, an enchanting Mediterranean villa built by Walter and Lucie Rosen in the 1930s, has recently completed a 5-year revitalization project. Tours of the Rosen House are available throughout the season and are included with the purchase of Afternoon Tea. Limited tours are available during the American Roots and Jazz Festivals. This season, the magnificent Music Room will be open for viewing prior to concerts in the Venetian Theater; audiences are encouraged to arrive early and explore.
Food + Drink Offerings
On performance days during the summer, spread a blanket on the lawn, reminisce with family and friends over a glass of wine at a picnic table, or set up your own table and chairs for the day—Caramoor has plenty of space. The onsite Food + Drink Offerings during the Summer Season feature a variety of delicious, organic, and locally-sourced snacks and beverages provided by Great Performances catering and events company. The Tap Tent has something for everyone: salads, sandwiches, snacks, water, soda, local wine and beer, coffee and tea, and ice cream. Vegetarian, gluten-free, and vegan items are available. On weekends, the Katchkie Food Truck offers the mouth-watering Caramoor Burger, the Summer Farmers Bowl, Chefs Grilled Cheese, the Treble Dog and more. For the Roots Day, Chicken Tinga Tostada with pico de gallo and crema is added to the menu! Caramoor Members enjoy 10% off the Food + Drink selections.
For maximum convenience and to avoid the lines, Great Performances also offers pre-ordered picnic boxes in a variety of menus. Each picnic includes an entrée and sides with dessert options to add-on. Upgrade to Picnic Plus to get a reserved seat at a set table under the Pavilion Tent and unlimited soft beverages. Additionally, on July 7 and 28 a relaxed Symphony Court post-performance buffet meal seated under the Pavilion Tent is offered and includes unlimited wine, beer, and soda. Menus for the picnics and Symphony Court are available online, and patrons can either order online or call the Box Office at 914.232.1252. Order by Tuesday at 4:00pm for the upcoming week’s performance.
For high-resolution photos, click here.
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Caramoor is a performing arts center located on a unique 90-acre estate with Italianate architecture and gardens in Westchester County, NY. It enriches the lives of its audiences through innovative and diverse musical performances of the highest quality. Its mission also includes mentoring young professional musicians and providing educational programs for young children centered around music. Audiences are invited to come early to explore the beautiful grounds; tour the historic Rosen House, a stunning mansion listed on the National Register of Historic Places; unwind with a pre-concert picnic or concessions with beer and wine; enjoy a delicious Afternoon Tea on Wednesdays and Sundays; and discover beautiful music in the relaxed settings of the Venetian Theater, Spanish Courtyard, Music Room of the Rosen House, and magnificent gardens. Summer concerts take place in two outdoor theaters: the acoustically superb Venetian Theater, which seats approximately 1,500, and the more intimate, romantic Spanish Courtyard, which seats around 470. In the fall and spring, concerts are presented in the splendid Music Room in the Rosen House. Caramoor’s gardens, also used for concerts and the sound art exhibition Sonic Innovations, are well worth the visit and include nine unique perennial gardens. Among them are a Sense Circle for the visually impaired, the Sunken Garden, a Butterfly Garden, the Tapestry Hedge, and the Iris and Peony Garden.
Getting to Caramoor
Getting to Caramoor is simple by car, train or public transportation. All parking is free and close to the performance areas. Handicapped parking is also free and readily available.
By car from New York City, take the Henry Hudson Parkway north to the Saw Mill River Parkway north to I-684 north to Exit 6. Go east on Route 35 to the traffic light (0.3 miles). Turn right onto Route 22 south, and travel 1.9 miles to the junction of Girdle Ridge Road where there is a green Caramoor sign. At the junction, veer left and make a quick right onto Girdle Ridge Road. Continue on Girdle Ridge Road 0.5 miles to the Caramoor gates on the right. Approximate drive time is one hour.
By train from Grand Central Station, take the Harlem Division Line of the Metro-North Railroad heading to Southeast, and exit at Katonah. Caramoor is a 3.5-mile drive from the Katonah station, where taxi service is always available and free shuttle service is available for most performances. For current information, check the Metro-North schedule.
Caramoor: American Roots Music Festival, Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn, and world music (2019)
American Roots Music Festival
Youth in a Roman Field*
Oliver the Crow*
Damn Tall Buildings*
Porch Stomp Revue*
Bethlehem and Sad Patrick*
Square Dance! With Porch Stomp Revue*
The Milk Carton Kids
Introducing Amythyst Kiah
Piazzolla: Milonga Is Coming
Zimmer: First Step (from Interstellar)
De Holanda: 1 Byte 10 Cordas
Sakamoto: Tibetan Dance
Fleck: Bug Tussle
Folk Song (Russian): Poliushko Pole (Field, Oh Field)
Folk Song (Russian): Sronila Kolechko (She Dropped A Ring)
Abreu: Tico-Tico no Fubá
Fleck: Sinister Minister
Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn
Béla Fleck, banjo
Abigail Washburn, banjo
* Caramoor debut
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All concerts made possible, in part, by ArtsWestchester with funds from the Westchester County Government.
All concerts made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
The 2019 Summer Music Festival is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.
© 21C Media Group, May 2019