Deep Roots Festival: review + photos

I headed down to Milledgeville a few weeks ago for my first/the fourteenth annual Deep Roots Festival. I was really impressed with the lineup–for the low, low price of $8, you got to see Rainbow Kitten Surprise, Drivin N Cryin, Muddy Magnolias, & Trae Pierce. I think the promoters kind of outdid themselves with the great lineup, as there really wasn’t enough room for everyone by the end of the night, but the festival seemed well run overall. Food & drink prices were not outlandish & the sets were each around 45 minutes–long enough to get a good feel for the artists, not so short that it felt like anyone was being rushed off stage.
I arrived in time for the second set, Trae Pierce & the T-Stone Band, & was able to grab a great spot on the rail. This was my second time seeing them & I was again impressed. They play with such joy & energy, it’s readily apparent they love what they do. In an era of hearing the same old thing on the radio day after day, their variety is refreshing. They played several originals, but it was their phenomenal assortment of covers that was the highlight of the set. Jumping effortlessly from the Fresh Prince of Bel Air theme song to The Beatles to Rage Against the Machine to Michael Jackson, each opening guitar riff brought out a new opportunity to guess what song would be coming up next.
Next up was Drivin N Cryin. A great many people were at the festival just to see them, & the crowd got noticeably thicker as the veteran Southern rockers appeared on stage. They sang all their hits in celebration of the re-release of 1989’s Mystery Road. Many crowd members got extremely emotional & there was a great deal of singing along, especially on Straight to Hell (lead singer Kevn Kinney described it as “being about Romeo & Juliet if they had grown up in Milledgeville”).

Up & coming soulful rockers Muddy Magnolias were next. The Nashville based group is fronted by the beautiful & immensely talented Jessy Wilson. Their bluesy rhythms were unlike anything else heard on stage that night. Wilson had a wonderful stage presence & was simply electrifying.
I’m gonna preface this paragraph by saying I’m a total fangirl for Rainbow Kitten Surprise & they’re the primary reason I drove two hours to get to Milledgeville for the festival. Man oh man, are they awesome. This was my fourth time seeing them & I could honestly go another 40. Lead singer Sam Melo looks utterly boneless as he thrashes around on stage in a way that it looks like no human being should be able to move. The band is likable and charismatic & just pure fun, it’s nearly impossible to look away from the magnetic Melo, they’re everything I love about live shows & you can feel the energy pouring off of them as they give it their all up on stage. They get better & better every time I see them, & the crowd gets rowdier & larger–they’ve played many large festivals over the last few months (Firefly, Bonnaroo, Hangout, & SXSW to name a few) & I think they’re going to blow up onto the national mainstream pretty soon.
All in all, it was a great lineup with great weather & a great time. Will definitely be adding the Deep Roots Festival to my yearly plans!
Check out more photos behind the cut.