Rooster Walk 9

Written by Tyler Davis

Returning to Pop’s Farm in Martinsville, VA, this spring will mark the 9th year of Rooster Walk, the annual celebration of life, music, friendship and togetherness nestled among a beautiful Blueridge backdrop.  Rooster Walk is founded in memory of two friends from Martinsville that passed in their 20’s.  In addition to the Musical Instrument Program, which donates used instruments to local kids; the event gives back in other ways.  So far they’ve raised more than $100,000 for local and regional charities with half going to the Penn-Shank Memorial Scholarship Fund named for those two young men.  The festival “celebrates life and the notion that you shouldn’t waste a moment of it.”

Rooster Walk 9 returns with over 40 bands on 5 stages.  A great line-up full of heavy hitters that pulls from all sorts of different pockets of musical talent and style.  Headliners include The Wailers, who will hold down the headline spot Friday night- a perfect way to jump off the weekend!  The amount of talent and the proverbial Marley family tree stretching across the stage is truly magical and would excite any music lover.  Drummer and founding member Aston “Familyman” Barret is joined by original Wailers Junior Marvin and Donald Kinsey.  These OG’s are backed by an impressive line-up of players, most of which have a direct relation to members of the original super group fronted by Bob Marley.  Festivalgoers should expect Marley’s hits, as well as new and original material from the Wailers; this group is authentic as it gets in the reggae world.

On the other side of the spectrum, progressive bluegrass power players Greensky Bluegrass will headline the festival with a 2-hour Saturday night set.  The band has seen a surge in success and followers over the past 6-7 years, and rightly so, they are selling out their own shows all over while managing to hit spots like Red Rocks, Telluride, Northwest String Summit and Jam Cruise.  Festivals large and small have brought these guys on and never looked back.  The Kalamazoo, MI based bluegrass pickers are setting venues ablaze all across the country during their relentless touring schedule.  If you like quality songwriting and a good bluegrass jam session, but also enjoy getting your face shredded to bits during a psychedelic rock show, do not miss Greensky Bluegrass.  Trust me on this.

These two headliners could not be more distinctly different in their own ways, a smart move by Rooster Walk in my opinion.  Give the people variety, praise Jah! The music never stops!  Rooster Walk has done it again, a mixed-bag lineup that makes me think, “Grass and brass!”  Bluegrass, Americana, rock and folk groups mixed right in with that NOLA soul, funk, blues and beats.  Anders Osborne, Pimps of Joytime, Eric Krasno, The Nth Power, The Motet, and Empire Strikes Brass will be dropping the funk and soul.  Hot licks and cool bass lines are on the menu from this impressive list of musicians that are sure to keep things loose during the weekend.   Marcus King Band, Anderson East, The Trongone Band round out the rock groups for the weekend.  These folks will leave it all out on stage and should not be overlooked!

Sticking to the roots of the fest’s Appalachian surroundings, Rooster Walk’s line up takes a turn for the traditional.  This solid line-up of folk, Americana and bluegrass players has been hand picked and each group is making waves in their respective scene.   In addition to Greensky, bands like Mandolin Orange, Billy Strings, Jon Stickley Trio, Mipso, and Love Canon will be spitting that bluegrass fire, sending the sweet sounds of the mountains long into the night.  The festival also features several younger bands out making names for themselves.  Bluegrassers After Jack, Shadowgrass, and The Fernandez Sisters will all get to strut their stuff at Rooster Walk 9.  What a great place to showcase what you got for the folks out there, always looking for new music and a good time.  This is why we come to these places.

With 4 nights of optional camping, VIP, etc there are no shortage of amenities at Rooster Walk.  Lagunitas Brewing Co., New Belgium Brewing, Foothills Brewing and Founders Brewing Co. will be pouring all weekend.  Food vendors, arts and crafts, healing arts all are available to satisfy any needs.    Seems like they have a good thing going here in southern Virginia for Memorial Day weekend. A first timer here that can’t wait for this one.  Hopefully see your smiling faces out there!