There are a few important events in the history of the music that led to the strong grassroots and sonic diversity that you can find linked together in the robust roots music underground. There were the Outlaws of country music in the 70’s, who were unwilling to compromise. There was the revitalization of lower Broadway in Nashville in the 90’s, that meshed punk kids from all over the country in their appreciation for authentic country and blues. There was the formation of Fat Possum & Bloodshot Records. And there was the Deep Blues Festivals.
For 4 runs, The Deep Blues put together over 200 excellent blues, roots, and country acts that were too raw and true for 98.1. Unfortunately about this time last year, it was announced that founder Chris Johnson, facing mounds of debt to keep the festival going, had called it quits. I still remember a comment left on ninebullets.net’s post about Deep Roots demise by “Mr. Mudd”:
It’s mostly drivel that sells, and the good stuff gets filed under “obscure”. The little man inside my head tells me Chris Johnson knew this from the get go and did it all anyway. To me that is more heroic than doing something based on the belief that it will prosper. Like Dylan Thomas, Chris raged against the dying of the light…but Chris, folks get what they deserve…and they did not deserve Deep Blues.
But I am happy to announce that after a year off, the Deep Blues Festival lives! At the relaunch, it will be a much more trimmed down version that will happen July 16th in Cleveland, OH at the Beachland Ballroom. More info can be found at http://www.dbf2011.com.
In many ways, the much ballyhooed Muddy Roots Festival is an extension of the work that Chris Johnson and many others did to create a network of support for touring roots artists. And many lessons can be learned from it’s initial demise, mainly that fan support is imperative as Mr. Mudd pointed out above, and that there is a razor’s edge between this music thriving, surviving, or falling to demise at any point. The difference between mainstream music and roots music is the fans. Grassroots fans are willing to rise up and support their favorite artists. We do not have the support of radio or big record labels, so we must rely on each other.
The fandom of roots music is the reason it will survive the music Apocalypse going on right now better than the big boys. But all of that is talk unless the attendance numbers for these festivals justify a “next year”. Even if you can’t attend, Deep Roots has set up donation channels and merchandise to give people many ways to support. And of course, one of the best things you can do costs nothing: SPREADING THE WORD!
Deep Blues Festival 2011 Current Lineup:
- Left Lane Cruiser
Ten Foot Polecats
Molly Gene One Whoaman Band
The Misery Jackals
Mississippi Gabe Carter
Old Gray Mule featuring CW Ayon
Mark Porkchop Holder
Javier & The Innocent Sons