Back in March, when the Old Town School of Folk Music and the Lincoln Square Chamber of Commerce announced their new joint collaboration, the Square Roots Festival, July seemed a long way off. But here we are at the end of June, and the inaugural Square Roots, set for July 20-22, is nearly upon us.
To pique your interest, organizers have just released the list of breweries participating in the fest, which has been billed as a one-of-a-kind craft beer and music mash-up. Get ready to whet your whistle with brews from Two Brothers, Metropolitan, Finch, 5 Rabbit, Greenbush, Vander Mill Cider, Hinterland, Founders and New Holland.
Can’t wait until the 20th to quaff a few pints? Check out Summer Brew, a special sneak preview courtesy of the Square Roots brew masters, July 19, 6:30 – 10 p.m., held in the parking lot at 4500 N. Lincoln Ave., with The Grafton and Fountainhead providing food pairings. The breweries will be pouring more than 15 selections that won’t be available to the general public during Square Roots. Purchase Summer Brew tickets in advance for $20 or $30 on site, if available.
On the music side, a Spotify playlist puts to rest any concerns that Square Roots programming will be a shadow of the former Folk & Roots Festival. The playlist features 16 tracks by 8 of the 35 musical artists scheduled to appear over the course of the three-day event, from hometown roots rockers the Waco Brothers to the reggae grooves of Taj Weekes & Adowa. We confess we weren’t familiar with Sidi Toure or Elephant Revival, but were immediately won over by the soulful sound of the former and the lush, progressive folk of the latter.
Square Roots, which will be held on the stretch of Lincoln Avenue between Montrose and Wilson, boasts five musical stages — two outdoor (one at Sunnyside and a second at Wilson) and three indoor, making use of the Old Town “campus.” Several acts, including the fiddle championship, will appear at Maurer Hall (the west or “old” Old Town, 4544 N. Lincoln), while a number of dances classes will take advantage of the soundproof rooms housed in the “new” Old Town, 4545 N. Lincoln.
With just weeks to go before the debut of Square Roots, Old Town and the Chamber are still accepting applications for the annual fiddle competition — divided into youth, solo and team categories — and are still recruiting volunteers to assist with the festival. Organizations that rustle up six or more volunteers will be recognized with a banner at the event; applications are due July 6.