GoodWorks Entertainment CEO Tyler Grill talks Rhythm & Roots | Arts & Living


It’s crazy to think that the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic almost killed the Rhythm & Roots Festival last year. Festival founder and organizer Chuck Wentworth was struggling to get it up and running again and when things were looking dire, some fellow music lovers stepped in to help him out. These folks came from the Hartford, Connecticut based full-service concert promoter and special events production organization GoodWorks Entertainment, which ended up purchasing the festival and operating it in time for it to return during the following Labor Day Weekend. Fast forward to now and Rhythm & Roots is going to be coming back to Ninigret Park in Charlestown from September 1-3 with a stacked lineup. There’s bound to be a lot of dancing with a friendly vibe flowing throughout the festival grounds.

I recently had a talk with GoodWorks Entertainment CEO Tyler Grill about how the organization got involved with the festival, keeping Chuck involved in the process as a consultant, what he’s looking forward to seeing the most at Rhythm & Roots and why people should consider going if they haven’t bought a ticket yet.

Rob Duguay: What made you and the rest of GoodWorks Entertainment initially want to pursue this endeavor with purchasing the Rhythm & Roots Festival?

Tyler Grill: We got introduced to Chuck Wentworth through a friend and a local couple. After meeting Chuck and understanding how he’s got over 40 years of doing festivals while knowing that he’s a true professional and he’s got major experience gave us the confidence that if we were to do this then we’d be able to pull it off in six months time. Just getting to know him and his family, how family-driven the festival is and how important Rhythm & Roots is to the local community is really what GoodWorks is all about. We’re all about community, we’re all about family fun and we’re all about small and intimate kinds of settings. All our venues are relatively small and this festival on a grand scale is a smaller one, so it just checked a lot of boxes for us.

It checked off a lot of things that are important to us and are very important to Chuck and his family, so the synergy was there from the get go.

RD: That’s awesome. Since GoodWorks has taken things over, Chuck Wentworth has remained on as a consultant, right?

TG: Yeah, I talk to Chuck almost every day, especially as we get closer to the festival. He’s great, he’s been mentoring us on how and why he’s done what he’s done, why things are set up certain ways and how he’s gone about marketing and selling tickets. The other thing too is that we program the other businesses we have with festivals, outdoor concerts and venues while booking very similar music, so it’s kind of natural. Chuck and I work a lot on which bands we’re going to go for and it’s cool because he brings in this extensive history. He knows what works, he knows what doesn’t, so the collaboration we have together has been really good.

RD: How has it been on your end with booking and organizing both last year’s edition and this year’s edition of Rhythm & Roots? What would you say is the most difficult part about it and what has been the most rewarding part?

TG: The most rewarding part is that we pulled off last year successfully in six months time. Essentially, we’ve put on two festivals in 18 months from the time we purchased Rhythm & Roots and when we did the festival last year to now. You think about pulling off two festivals in less than two years time, that’s kind of where things are a challenge. It’s making sure all the pieces are in place while learning at the same time from Chuck, his family and his team and we haven’t stopped running since we purchased the festival. It’s been rewarding because people are seeing that we’re not looking to change the festival, we’re here to keep the legacy alive.

I think last year that was our mission, we succeeded and this year it’s the same mission and I’m confident that we’ll succeed in that. This year marks 25 years of Rhythm & Roots as well, so the mission is even more important this time around.

RD: Speaking of this year’s edition of the festival marking the 25th anniversary, who are you most excited to see perform as part of the upcoming lineup for this year’s Rhythm & Roots?

TG: There’s the music within the Cajun Dance Tent, which is a fan favorite. I’m personally excited for what will hopefully be a lot of artist collaborations, we have so many artists that are playing who are friends with each other like the Infamous Stringdusters and Greensky Bluegrass. They perform together all the time so it’ll be cool, there’s nothing set but I hope that we see some cool kind of sit-ins with other bands. We got Trombone Shorty who puts on an incredible, energetic performance. You can’t go wrong with Robert Cray and his band and JJ Grey has been getting a huge response from fans on social media.

When we announced that he was playing with Mofro, the positive feedback that we got was incredible.

RD: I actually saw that on social media and I’m really excited for this year’s lineup as a whole. For the people who are thinking about going but haven’t bought a ticket yet, and I know tickets are running low, what’s the biggest selling point to checking out Rhythm & Roots this year?

TG: I’ll just say that this is one of the biggest lineups the festival has ever had. If you’re going to go, I think the best way to enjoy it is by camping. You’re there for three days and you’re fully immersed in it. The food is awesome, there’s so much to choose from and if you have kids, there’s a playground right in the middle of the field where kids can be on the swings and slides while having a blast and listening to good tunes. All around, the full experience is what makes it special.

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