The goal of the Roots Retreat music festival next weekend is right there in the name — a return to the real roots of an event where the focus is on the music, not big crowds and high prices, which will also serve as a retreat, a mini-vacation from the stress and cares of regular life.
Creating the Roots Retreat was a collaborative effort between Dewey Paul Moffitt of the Goat Soup and Whiskey Tavern in Keystone and local musician Leon Joseph Littlebird. Putting on music festivals is nothing new to Moffitt, who’s been involved with events from San Francisco to Florida. While he loves the music industry, Moffitt had become increasingly frustrated with many concerts’ high costs and large crowds. Having lived in Summit County for five years, he has been hoping to put together a music festival.
“I had the idea of doing a retreat-type festival, something that’s a smaller scale, not overwhelming like a lot of big festivals get,” he said.
About a year ago, Moffitt was approached by Littlebird, who had envisioned a “roots festival” and wanted help bringing it to life. The two put their heads together and came up with the Roots Retreat, mixing Littlebird’s “roots” idea with Moffitt’s “retreat.” It all really came together, Moffitt said, when they hit upon the location for their festival — Aspen Canyon Ranch, 26 miles north of Silverthorne in Grand County.
“The site out there is so beautiful,” Moffitt said. He’s also excited that having the festival at Aspen Canyon Ranch means that festivalgoers can not only enjoy the music but the natural surroundings and recreational opportunities. Camping and parking at the festival are free, as are opportunities for fishing and hiking. The ranch provides guided activities, such as horseback riding, and other amenities including massage, that will be an additional cost for those who opt to do them.
The natural setting also supports the health focus of the Roots Retreat festival. Retreats, usually, are for healing — physical, emotional, spiritual. Moffitt wants people to come to the festival, put their stresses behind them and leave in a happier, healthier state.
To emphasize this aspect, Moffitt and other event organizers have decided that a portion of the proceeds from the festival will go toward the Summit Community Care Clinic.
“There are …. people in this community that rely on the Summit Community Care Clinic,” Moffitt said. “What better organization to tie into the whole thing, so we can give back to them who give so much to us.”
Brandi Thompson, development specialist at the Summit Community Care Clinic, said that they were grateful and honored to be chosen as festival beneficiaries, particularly at an event with a health-related focus.
“I think it’s really special that this (festival) is community-driven. It’s great that they want to give back to a resource that’s critical for the community,” she said. “It applies to our mission and it’s really cool how they decided to make that a focus of the event, and we feel that we align with that. We’re very honored.”
Roots and music
The music lineup for the Roots Retreat features almost entirely Colorado-based bands, with just a few exceptions. Most of the bands are local Summit County musicians, which Moffitt calls, “staples in the community.”
Among those include performances by Littlebird, the Arnie J. Green Band, Funky Johnson, the Luv Brothers and Home Grown Mountain Jams, to name just a few.
Regional bands that are attending include The Grant Fun out of Boulder, Oakhurst, a bluegrass band from Denver, and The Congress, also from Denver.
From out of state is the Kris Lager Band, hailing from Nebraska and who are “a really fun and funky soul band,” according to Moffitt.
The Giving Tree, out of Chicago, will bring their Americana rock sound to the festival on Sunday. According to its bio, the band includes a wide variety of instruments, from acoustic and electric guitars to banjos, violins, mandolins and more.
A last-minute add is Billy Iuso and the Restless Natives, coming to Summit County from New Orleans and performing a special set with Tori Pater from the band Polytoxic.
“It’s all kind of Americana-based,” Moffitt said of the music line-up. “It just goes in all different directions, to rock or funk or blues or bluegrass. It’s a little bit of everything.”
Variety is something that Home Grown Mountain Jams thrives off of, according to lead guitarist Ryan Emmett. “I’m looking forward to it,” he said of the festival. “We try to do as big of a variety as we can. Everybody in the band has a different background.”
Moffitt said he’s looking forward to seeing the blend of music and styles at the festival. All of the sounds fit with the Roots Retreat theme. “It all has roots somewhere,” he said. “It’ll be perfect. I have no doubts that all the styles will blend perfectly together.”
Listen and learn
In addition to listening to music, festivalgoers will have a chance to participate as well. In the morning on Saturday and Sunday, Music on the Mountains will provide free music clinics for children, with instruments and singing. For the adults, guitar workshop classes will allow attendees to chat with local musicians about every aspect of music, from technicalities of playing an instrument to how to manage show business. Guitars are encouraged but not required.
“It’s set up that way. It’s very interactive in that sense, where the crowd isn’t being alienated or treated like a commodity,” Moffitt said. “The people that are coming up, they’re the roots, they’re part of the whole experience. In that way it’s very different from other festivals.”