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2001 Vitoria-Gasteiz and San Sebastian Jazz Festivals

Robert Randolph: The Word

Driving through torrential downpour to a 10-hour outdoor music festival you’re already late for is not an auspicious start to the day. But arriving to find a lineup of expert musicians jamming away and joyful audience members doing head-first mudslides makes up for the day’s inauspicious beginning. The second annual Grassroots Music and Arts Festival took place Sat. Aug. 11 at Oregon Ridge Park in Cockeysville, Md., despite heavy rainfall that persisted throughout the day.

With clothes as whet as their appetites for funk, crowd members gathered around for one of the best jam-band lineups of the year: the Almighty Senators, Lake Trout, the Word (featuring John Medeski, the North Mississippi Allstars and Robert Randolph), the David Grisman Quintet, Sam Bush, Galactic and Medeski, Martin and Wood. Festival attendance dropped half from last year, but you wouldn’t have known it by the number of Frisbees flying around, or the number of times audience members shouted “Dawg!” in reference to David Grisman’s self-coined “Dawg” music, which he defines as an “all-inclusive umbrella” (apt imagery for the rainy day). Grisman’s mandolin was joined on stage by a flute, guitar, upright bass, hand drums and a performance painter named Frenchy who, throughout the festival, painted band portraits as colorful as their music and as tie-died as the Grateful Dead T-shirts that lay on the ground as half-naked mud-sliders took to the swamp baths.

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