The Georgia Roots Music Festival, celebrating Georgia’s rich musical heritage, hits Atlanta on January 18 and, best of all, it’s FREE. “Roots music” refers to the music rooted in our culture and the traditions that reflect the past and present residents of our state — Native Americans, Europeans, Africans, and our growing immigrant communities. This year’s festival, which will take place at the Woodruff Arts Center in Midtown, will deliver a diverse and dynamic collection of music from a variety of genres, and here are five performances that are just too good to miss:
1. McIntosh County Shouters: The “ring shout” is a tradition that has endured generations, and no one has done more to preserve and promote the practice than the McIntosh County Shouters. The Shouters tell a story through centuries-old Gullah Geechee slave shouts that have a deep meaning and an equally compelling appeal to the ear. With driving beats derived from nothing more than a stick pounding a board and the clapping of hands, this call and response style of song evokes a sense of how faith, music, and community can lift our spirits. Performance: 12:00 p.m.
2. The AJ Ghent Band: The AJ Ghent Band brings an energy and excitement to the stage that electrifies every crowd. AJ describes himself as “overall, a soulful kind of guy,” although he tends to blend other styles into his playing. His music speaks of love, life, relationships, changes, and hardship, and has been described as providing a “melodic high.” AJ has opened for Zac Brown Band and was recently signed to Southern Ground Records. Performance: 3:15 p.m.
3. The Albany Civil Rights Institute Freedom Singers: Rutha Harris lived the Civil Rights Movement and logged over 50,000 miles traveling the country with the original Freedom Singers. Miss Harris reinstituted the group to keep the songs of the movement alive, and they also know how put on a good show. What better time to have them in Atlanta than on the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend! Performance: 5:50 p.m.
4. The Skillet Lickers: The Skillet Lickers’ name is synonymous with string band music in Georgia. Phil and Russ Tanner, grandson and great grandson of band founder Gid Tanner, keep the band’s nine-decade tradition alive. The music of the Skillet Lickers helped lay the foundation for today’s country and bluegrass genres. The band performs breakdown songs, comic folksongs, and a variety of country and bluegrass standards. Performance: 1:20 p.m.
5. The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra: This is not your typical ASO. Members of the Orchestra will bring immigrant roots into the mix with traditional huapangos arranged by ASO violinist Juan Ramirez. These dances, originating from the Huasteca region of Mexico, never fail to bring the crowd to their feet. You can look forward to sensational violin solos by Assistant Concertmaster Justin Bruns, accompanied by the rhythmic guitar work of Mr. Ramirez, and an energetic string ensemble. Performance: 4:10 p.m.
Additional details are available at GaRoots.org. We hope to see you there!
Georgia Roots Music Festival: January 18, 2014 from Noon-6:30 PM.
The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO), currently in its 69th season, is one of America’s leading orchestras. The ASO performs more than 200 concerts each year for a combined audience of more than a half million in a full schedule of performances, and reaches more than 87,000 students and underserved members of the community through its education and community outreach programs (www.aso.org).