Going back to your (musical) roots, in Aroostook County

The Arootsakoostik Music Festival every year is a relaxed, homespun affair, building on the previous year’s successes and bringing together a wide array of Maine and New England artists for a day of summertime fun in New Sweden’s Thomas Park. And every year Travis Cyr – the singer, songwriter, guitarist, proud County boy and mastermind behind the six-year-old festival – misses most of his own party. He’s too busy making sure everything is running smoothly.

“Every year I always have 2-3 bands I am very excited for,”  said Cyr, who plays with the Strings of Calamity. “Every year I miss 90 percent of the music because I am running around like a madman.”

For this year’s festival – Saturday, July 7 – Cyr intends on sitting still for sets from Portland bands like anthemic pop rockers Grand Hotel and melodic bluegrass troubadours Coloradas – as well as sets from Madawaska natives Dominic and the Lucid, Portland Americana ensemble Dark Hollow Bottling Company and Providence, RI experimental folk duo Brown Bird. But not before kicking off the festival by playing his own set of his trademark tough, driving, heartfelt folk rock – at 10:20 a.m., while the dew is still evaporating on the grass at Thomas Park. For that set, he’ll play the entirety of his new EP, “The Non Electric Dream Machine,” released just this week.

In total, there are 23 bands on the bill – from Portland electronic indie rockers Glass Fingers, to Bangor’s own power pop duo, When Particles Collide. Though plenty of other festivals in the state feature lots of Maine bands, only Arootsakoostik is 95% comprised of musicians hailing from the Pine Tree State. For a chance to see some of the best indie rock, folk, bluegrass and electronic music that the state has to offer all in one place, on one day, nothing beats Arootsakoostik.

This year’s festival will follow the same format as previous years, though Cyr is happy to point out that there will be fair trade coffee added to the list of food vendors, and artist Pasco Grove will be there all afternoon, creating chainsaw art for spectators. There are three stages, the main one being the Thomas Park band stand, a white half-shell public structure that the festival takes over for the day, as well as a secondary stage on the other side of the park, and a mini stage set up in the woods, where Portland experimental and psychedelic folk groups Herbcraft and Planets Around the Sun will play a very unique set. Attendees must find their own place to stay, if they don’t want to drive back – there are hotels and motels in nearby Presque Isle, Limestone and Caribou, and there are also campgrounds. It’s roughly three hours to Bangor, and the show wraps up just after 8 p.m. with Brown Bird’s set, so it is possible to make it a very long day trip.

Admission for the full day is $15, and proceeds will benefit the care and maintenance of Thomas Park, and local charities. Fundraisers held back in April – a concert and an IndieGoGo campaign – helped pay for things like generators and cleanup. There’s also a canned food drive. For a full schedule of music and information on lodging and directions, visit http://www.facebook.com/pages/Arootsakoostik-Music-Festival/213363612111.

Emily Burnham

About Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native, UMaine graduate, proud Bangorian and a writer and editor for Bangor Metro Magazine, the Weekly and the Bangor Daily News, where she's worked since 2004. She reports on everything from local bands to local food to all the cool things going on in the Greater Bangor area. In her quest for stories, she's seen countless concerts and plays, been lobster fishing, interviewed celebrities, hung out with water buffalo and played in a ukulele orchestra. She's interested in everything that happens in Maine. Albums for review are accepted digitally only; please no CDs.