So Durham gets electronics and technology, but Raleigh gets a little country and some blues? That appears to be the case, at least according to an information packet on the website of New York-based production company Blackbird Presents. (UPDATE: Blackbird removed the information from their website. Good thing we saved it, and you can see it here.)
Illustrated with photos of farms, acoustic guitars and a lot of pale people having fun in the sun, the rather tawdry document says the two-day “American Roots Music & Arts Festival” will come to Walnut Creek Amphitheatre in October. The tentative dates are Oct. 17–18, two weeks after IBMA’s festivities end in Raleigh and a week after Shakori Hills in Chatham County. The first day will include an “incredible lineup of music artists from rock, country, blues bluegrass and Americana.” The mix will continue on the second day and culminate in “our Signature Blackbird Super Jam.” The text also promises that the music will be “All Real and All American Roots,” which is kind of cute.
Keith Wortman, who works as an executive producer for Blackbird, is listed as the contact for the event. He couldn’t comment on the prospective festival, saying he was “jammed on preparing for the launch announcement for the near term” and adding that the announcement date was still pending. Blackbird produces enormous tribute concerts like the “Love for Levon” show in 2012.
One source says that American Roots is the result of Live Nation’s long-standing quest to bring a music festival to Raleigh, adding that the placement at Walnut Creek Amphitheatre is perhaps a stopgap, with the plan being to relocate it to the city’s new property at Dorothea Dix Park. Early talent talk includes Grace Potter, Eric Church and the Tedeschi Trucks Band, though there has been no confirmation of those acts.
The festival map included in the document makes room for “artisan concessions,” a “farmers market [with] regional flavors,” “health stations” and an “artist village,” suggesting a continuation of last year’s Farm Aid, sans the beneficent agricultural component. Strangely, the same grid suggests there will be multiple stages beneath the shed part of Walnut Creek, with festival seating relegated only to the lawn. According to the literature, organizers expect 40,000 fans at American Roots, so they’ll certainly have to do some reconfiguring, as Walnut Creek holds just more than 20,000. But maybe that diagram is just clumsy labeling of a Google Map, meant to match the incorrect latitude-and-longitude coordinates included.
Roger Krupa is the director of the Raleigh Convention Center, which controls the property at Walnut Creek. Friday afternoon, he was surprised to find that an information deck existed for the festival and that an announcement seemed so imminent.
“I knew it was in the offing, but I didn’t know that it was this far along,” he said. “But I’m all for any music this city can have. I don’t think we can ever have enough.”
And we can never find enough new ways to use the often-empty Walnut Creek, either.