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The Third Annual Roots & Rhythm Festival Returns to Headwaters Park

By Ben Larson

Fort Wayne Reader


On July 31st, the third annual Roots & Rhythm concert will take place at Headwaters Park. Aside from providing an evening of top notch musical talent, the event is also a fundraiser for Vincent Village, a local organization dedicated to providing shelter, care, advocacy, affordable housing, and support services for the area’s homeless families with children.

The organization started out as Vincent House Transitional Shelter in 1989. Since then they have purchased and renovated 30 homes, and provided service to over 650 families. One of the main ways they have been able to fund these services is through the Roots & Rhythm concert, which has now become their main fundraising event of the year. This year’s lineup includes locals Deuce, The End Times Spasm Band, Urban Legend, The Sunny Taylor Band, and Creole Stomp from Illinois. Tickets are $10, and can be purchased online at rootsandrhythm.org, at the Wooden Nickel Music on N. Anthony, or by calling 456-4172 ext. 229. Doors will open and 5p.m., and the music will start at 6p.m., with the hopes of wrapping everything up by 11:00p.m.

Aside from the music, this year’s Roots & Rhythm concert will also have a raffle, where they will be giving away such prizes as an ipod touch, a guitar from B-Sharp Guitars, and tickets and a jersey from the Komets. I spoke with Bruce Lehman, a Vincent Village board member and the man behind R&R, to get some details on the show, and why they’ve decided to go primarily local for this year’s acts.

“The original concept has always been local talent (or local roots, if you will), celebrating the roots and celebrating the music, or the rhythm that our community has with a lot of musicians,” he said. “[The board] sat down and talked about it, and I started thinking about local people that I know, and the first ones that came to my mind were groups like End Times and Deuce. Obviously these are all bands that have followings and are excellent musicians and songwriters, and we think that this is a combination that our audience is going to find really worthwhile.” Lehman again stressed the idea of localizing the talent pool for this year’s concert, saying “it was the evolution of the event this year, seeing where we could take it as far as more localized music, as well as having some national perspective with Creole Stomp.”

Also new this year is sponsorship from Rock 104, with Doc West acting as emcee for the evening. “Doc is just one of the most gracious, big-hearted guys the city has ever seen,” Lehman said, “and we’re incredibly fortunate to have him here in the city, and to have Rock 104 as an official sponsor.” Lehman also said that he and Vincent Village have been incredibly fortunate with the support they’ve received from the community, including Mad Anthony Brewing Co., New Haven Print, and Old Crown Coffee Roasters, as well as support from many private citizens. “We have terrific sponsors, and this year we’ve been particularly fortunate with people right up front who have pledged to help us move the festival along and bring great talent to the stage.”

For Lehman and Vincent Village, it’s all about community. “We’ll use Headwaters Park, A Party Apart, Mr. Cheese, and it’s just one step after another to include our community and always to create awareness of the homeless issue. We’re very proud that Fort Wayne is showing such support for an event like ours.” As to why Vincent Village has chosen to have a concert for their main fundraiser, Lehman said “our concept has always been that we are serving our community, and we’re celebrating the fact that we all have roots here. And many of the families [we serve], of course, their roots are here, but their roots have been torn up. So they’ve lost their roots, and our feeling is that, because of that, they have lost their rhythm of life. And the last few years it’s just gotten worse.” For Lehman and the rest of Vincent Village, a concert seemed like a symbolic way to represent their philosophy while bringing awareness and support to the homeless problem.

Roots & Rhythm 2010
The End Times Spasm Band
The Sunny Taylor Band
Creole Stomp
Urban Legend

July 31 at Headwaters Park
Gate opens at 5 p.m.
Music starts at 6 p.m.
All tickets: $10

For tickets, visit www.rootsandrhythm.org or call (260) 456-4172 (X229).

Tickets also available at the North Anthony Wooden Nickel (cash only for this location).

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