The decision by the Old Town School of Folk Music to replace its popular Folk & Roots Festival with Square Roots, a joint collaboration with the Lincoln Square Chamber of Commerce, can be linked directly to the opening of the School’s East Building back in January. “The main instigation, from our perspective, was the new facility,” explained Bau Graves, Old Town School’s executive director.
The goal, according to Graves, was to tie Old Town’s signature summer event to the new space, “to show it off as much as we can.” Where Folk & Roots took place largely in the confines of Welles Park, Square Roots, which will stretch along Lincoln Avenue from Wilson to Montrose, brings the action “right outside our doors.”
At the same time that Old Town’s leadership was rethinking Folk & Roots, they were approached by the Lincoln Square Chamber of Commerce with a request to use Old Town’s parking lot for a microbrew event. A light bulb went off–why not mesh the Chamber’s idea with Old Town’s festival.
“It took us awhile to work out how to put the administrative pieces together,” said Graves. “It’s been unfolding over the last two to three weeks.”
While acknowledging that the details of festival production–fees, permits, etc.–are challenging, Graves reiterated that the change in festival plans had little to do with the technical side or costs of mounting an event and everything to do with the new building. “Frankly, it was a really welcome opportunity to work with the Chamber and merchants up and down Lincoln. It all seemed positive to us.”
Though Graves wouldn’t close the door on resurrecting Folk & Roots in the future, he noted of Square Roots: “We’re trying this out to see how it goes.” Presumably, “if it goes fabulously,” Square Roots would become Old Town’s new annual event.
“As always, we’ll have a very extravagant array of performing artists,” Graves promised. “We’ll deliver what people have come to expect from Old Town.”