The Deep Roots Festival was a panoply of entertainment for the throngs of tipsy college students, classic car enthusiasts and candy-faced kids who packed downtown Milledgeville on Saturday, Oct. 20.
Residents who don’t just go to the festival for the live music could head to the grounds at 10 a.m. and have a great time tasting barbecue, checking out the annual car show, perusing local craft art and watching their children play on inflatable slides.
But while there’s something for the whole family at the festival, its main attraction is the live music. Students and local residents celebrate the viable holiday with early afternoon beers, congregating around the intimate outdoor stage late into the night. Deep Roots, for many, is about the music, and not just for the chance to see a few local acts for only $5.
Now in its ninth year, the festival’s stage has distinguished itself with a talented repertoire. Past years have seen Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Delta Spirit, The Dirty Guv’nahs and Tim Reynolds mixed in with some local festival flavors, making the stage a veritable medley of musical taste and reputation. This year’s concoction followed the same recipe, featuring hometown groups with acclaimed and experienced national talents.
Local acts Mayview Road and The Eclective resonated with raw folk, heavy jazz and edgy bluegrass in the afternoon, bringing a homey taste to the table. But in between, the crowd was hit with some authentic blues from Chris Thomas King. You might remember him from “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” when his character trades his soul for guitar talent from the devil. Not to say King makes deals with the devil, but his talent Saturday evening was nothing short of supernatural. The man barely moved on stage, but his percussive vocals and escalating blues riffs created an energetic stage presence that halted passing crowds.
As the final headlining support, trio act Dangermuffin brought their own complex energy to the main stage for a touch of organic, calypso-driven bluegrass. They added a welcomed flavor of relaxed, easy festival music to the stage without clumping themselves into the jam band mob. They traded rock for funk and beach music in a tidal pattern that breathed new energy from the stage.
In the end, The Givers took the stage to prove why they were the headlining band at Deep Roots this year. Mixing delectably symphonic flute, saxophone and guitar with raging percussion and vocal harmonies, the five-piece band was musical synergy incarnate. Vocalist and percussionist Tiffany Lamson stood center stage with Taylor Guarisco, vocalist and guitarist. While both projected energetic, interactive vocals for the band’s poppy tunes, Lamson radiated in the spotlight with a wild presence that was shocking and entrancing. Demonstrated by her broken tambourine later in the set, Lamson’s vigor was uncontrollable and contributed to the show’s overall resonance. Their stage chemistry was playful, excited and willful, and the rest of the band displayed enthralling musical passion without sacrificing technical complexity.
Topping off an already eventful night of live music on that stage, The Givers left the crowd with something to look forward to. Metronomic vocals interrupted soulful instruments for a zydeco experience, even while they stepped from their originals to cover a Talking Heads track. They ended the night with an encore performance of their most popular track “Up, Up, Up” to give an exhilarating finish to this year’s Deep Roots festivities.