The third annual Westport Roots Festival will be the biggest yet. It will span three days, including the pre-festival party Friday night, featuring the music of Dale Watson, and the Hangover Brunch on Sunday, featuring Mountain Sprout. At this year’s festival, more than 60 bands and acts will perform on six stages in five venues. Saturday’s lineup begins at 12:15 p.m. at the Westport Saloon.
Monday afternoon, Jody Hendrix, founder of Little Class Records and a co-founder of the festival, answered questions about this year’s lineup.
Q: What is different about this year’s festival?
A: We definitely grew in size this year. Last year we had 40 some odd bands, and this year we’re working on 60-plus if you include the pre-party on Friday with Dale Watson and the brunch with Mountain Sprout on Sunday.
We’ve moved all of the venues in a little tighter, using Buzzard Beach and Ernie Biggs this year. Gone are the long walks to Harling’s Upstairs. Our farthest venue from the home base of Westport Saloon is Riot Room, just across the way.
We’ve also added a free daytime public event. A Taste of Westport Roots will feature vendors, live busking and a wine-tasting sponsored by Barefoot Wines. We’re shutting down Pennsylvania street from Westport Road to Archibald.
Q: Has the music focus changed at all?
A: Musically, I wanted to add a strong psychobilly and cowpunk element this year to focus on the history of roots music. To do that I had to get some throwback acts like Hickoids and Elvis Hitler.
Keeping it Kansas City-oriented, we’ve resurrected several cowpunk and alt-country bands with reunion shows from Pendergast, Boothill and the BindleStiffs. We still have plenty of traditional honky-tonk and bluegrass.
Q: How many out-of-town acts did you book?
A: Thirty-eight, if you count the whole three-day spread and consider Lawrence local. So, well over half.
Q: Name five acts you recommend and are looking forward to seeing
A: Only five? That’s hard.
Hickoids: If you know anything about the history of cowpunk, you’ll know that this is a not-to-be-missed set. Somewhere between the Sex Pistols and Merle Haggard lie these ’80s cowpunk pioneers.
Sarah Gayle Meech: She’s the whole package. Killer band, authentic country sound and the image to go with it. She’s a honky-tonk angel with a bit of rock ’n’ roll edge.
Dale Watson (pre-party): Dale is the leader of the underground traditional country movement. We’d never be able to afford him on our little stage at the Westport Saloon without the infrastructure of the fest. This set will be small capacity (around 200) and very intimate.
The Goddamn Gallows: These guys always put on an incredible live show. Veterans of the neo-roots movement, they are heavy, mixing metal with rockabilly and gypsy punk.
Julian Davis and the Hay-Burners: I know I’m biased on this one, but there may not be a better picker on the fest. At 16 years old, he makes grown men envious of his skills. Julian is slated to be on “America’s Got Talent” in the 2016 season. Catch him before he blows up.
The Westport Roots Festival
The third annual Westport Roots Festival features more than 60 bands. It begins at 9 p.m. Friday with a pre-festival party at the Westport Saloon, where Dale Watson will headline a four-band lineup. The music resumes at 12:15 p.m. Saturday, when dozens of bands will perform on six stages in five venues. Sunday’s Roots Recovery Brunch begins at noon. Seven acts will perform into Sunday evening, including Truckstop Honeymoon and Mountain Sprout.
Admission Saturday is $25 in advance. Admission to the pre-party and Saturday’s lineup is $40. Admission to Saturday’s lineup and the Sunday brunch is $40. A three-day pass is $50. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit WestportRoots.com.