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Celebrate youth: Rootstock to showcase young talent

May 17, 2019

Rootstock will make its debut in downtown Ithaca Saturday, May 18, with a mission of celebrating youth musicians in the Finger Lakes region.

Vicious Fishes are one of the many area bands performing at the debut Rootstock Saturday in downtown Ithaca

Co-produced by New Roots Charter School and the Finger Lakes GrassRoots Festival of Music and Dance, the free event runs from noon to 9 p.m. at the Bernie Milton Pavilion in Bank Alley on the Commons.

Rootstock will feature more than a dozen youth acts from a variety of genres. Here's the schedule:

12 p.m.  – Corey Loveless

12:45 p.m.  – OA

1:25 p.m.  – Ron Finesse & Savannah

1:50 p.m.  – Rowan Drake

2:35 p.m.  – Vicious Fishes

3:20 p.m.  – Angel Rose

4 p.m.  – United Dance Troupe

4:25 p.m.  – Free Range Musicians

5:05 p.m.  – Du$tin

5:30 p.m.  – The Knights of the Rock Table

6:15 p.m.  – Saint Kid

7 p.m.  – Rogue Sound

7:45 p.m.  – TMAKOCRAZY

8:20 p.m.  – Banyantree

“We are doing this to facilitate a space for young people to perform in a high-quality venue while having a top-quality experience,” said Ian Cummings, who teaches music at New Roots. “There’s not a lot of opportunities like that for young people – many places have age restrictions or are inappropriate for young people or their families to be in.  So we’re drawing on all the benefits of festivals and outdoor music experiences, and have put together something that is specifically designed for young people in mind.”

Another goal of the event is to create connections between those students who participate in their school’s music programs, and those who play music outside of school.

“We want to draw connections between school music and non-school music,” according to Cummings. “There are a lot of people who make music in school, but there are a lot of people who do not make music in school. The national statistics are only 15 to 20 percent of the students in secondary schools participate in their school’s music program. So there are quite a few more students who are not participating.

“There’s not always opportunities or places where music is celebrated or welcomed, so that’s a really powerful and positive thing that we can do through New Roots with a partner like GrassRoots – bridge that gap between students making music in school and not in school.”

Rootstock organizers solicited applications from students throughout the Finger Lakes region, reaching out to local music programs, music teachers, school districts and guidance counselors.

“We also reached out to a lot of private schools, like Hickey’s Rock School, where there are young people making music in facilitated ways,” Cummings noted. “All of these different types of groups are welcome – the greater the variety, the better. It’s also an opportunity for them to come together and see what the others are doing.”

He re-emphasized: “A lot of young people make music, but in separate venues, and they don’t always have a space to come together. And that promotes and reinforces social segregation. This is intended to be one small effort in breaking down that social segregation.”

Visit newrootsschool.org/rootstock for more information.

YEM also spotlighted

Coincidental with Rootstock, the Youth Entrepreneurship Market (YEM) will showcase more than 25 vendors launching their new businesses during the afternoon in Bank Alley.

“Over the last couple of months, students have been creating businesses through a series of entrepreneurship workshops that focus on business planning, budgeting, and marketing their businesses,” according to organizers. Saturday, “all of their hard work will culminate in an open-air youth market on The Commons. We can't wait for you to meet these superstars!”

There also will be a street taco stand run by the farm-to-school team at New Roots Charter School. To learn more about YEM, visit www.facebook.com/YEMithaca/.

Michael Mazza, who helps to run YEM program, noted the two events symbolize the mission of New Roots Charter School while also having a wider impact.

“This total youth-generated day – with musicians and performers onstage and youth vendors showcasing their new businesses and products they’ve developed – is going to be a really good representation of what New Roots is about: celebrating youth and helping them connect to their roles in the community, and helping to empower them to be whoever they want to be.”