Rhythm & Roots – Ninigret Park (Charlestown, RI)

Bill Kirchen Rhythm & Roots

I always look forward to Rhythm & Roots because the multiple headliners turn up reliable and relaxed, and the well-chosen discovery acts arrive anxious to please and thrilled at the response. Not incidentally, the food is as outstanding as the music.

Steve Earle and Marcia Ball rocked the main stage, but I participated in the multiple standing ovations Bill Kirchen earned over in the overflowing Heritage Tent. Cindy Cashdollar and the Texas Guitar Women had torn it up on the main stage earlier in the day, before she and another of her longtime running mates, Johnny Nicholas, joined Kirchen’s band onstage. In addition to Kirchen’s own repertoire, the quintet ripped through a Nichols’ tune or three, drummer Jack O’Dell’s rockin’ spiritual “Holy Ghost” and a balls-out “The Times They Are A-Changin’.”

Rushad Eggleston’s trio had young and old packed inside and out on the lawn at the Family Tent. Strumming a cello and carrying his mandolin player on his shoulders, Eggleston improvised crazy lyrics and proved you don’t have to look serious, be serious, or even to play serious music to have a serious career, which he’s certainly working on. This is one talented individual.

Holly Williams, third generation in the Hank Williams dynasty, led a strong trio with a number of her own tunes, proving that the songwriting gene still dominates the family heritage. Her lovely “Waiting on June” described the life of her grandmother in heartbreaking detail, and her closer, “I Saw the Light,” probably renewed the faith of more than a few in the audience and reminded us all that when invoking the name of the Lord, sometimes we should dance.

– Suzanne Cadgene

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