Roots Festival, initially viewed as a fringe festival to complement the official Paisley Book Festival 2020, grew to have its own independent identity. It provides an encompassing platform for the promotion of local talent hence the subtitle : @Rootslocaltexts
Together with Elise Gordon Kelly of Weaving Musical Threads, Karen Herbison of H-arts and spoken word poet Shaun Moore, Anne helped create and stage the inaugural festival which ran in February 2020. Despite the lack of funding and a crazy pressure of time — the team met for the first time in November 2019 — they put together an impressive programme.
The festival gave Anne an opportunity to work with the talented trio, We Three Quinns, as well as guest singer, Annie Lennox (yes, really), of the accapela band, Tripple, who delighted the packed audience with a selection of traditional and modern songs and tunes as part of the Gig @ The Gatehouse. Fitting with the setting of a mill gatehouse, Anne read her prose poem ‘In Ma Day’ – a poem which she says ‘wrote itself’ after extensive interviews with former Paisley mill girls which is published in her book Provenance. As Roots Festival fell within Fairtrade Fortnight, and after a break for excellent coffee, fairtrade tea and chocolate, Anne then read her hilarious account of an enterprising fund-raising, never-to-be repeated event, involving Blues Brothers, a Christian Soul choir, ironing and fairtrade undies … the full account to be found in her book, Cadences.
The wider Roots programme included:
- A fast-paced ‘Rootsy Rammy’ poetry slam
- A guided walk around historical Paisley
- A poetry read and an open-mic opportunity
- A script-to-stage table read session
- A ‘Write into Recovery’ event
- A lively interactive, story-telling afternoon for kids with Karen Herbison of H-arts and her naughty puppets, Tilly and Eddie.
- A free-entry art exhibition
- A stomping’ skirlin’ celebratory ceilidh as a fund-raiser for Rainbow Turtle
All members of Roots organising team gave of their talents for free. Following this spirit of generosity and goodwill, many local businesses gave their premises as a free venue for events and a tuneful piano, donated by PS Pianos, was positioned in a local shopping mall for passing shoppers to enjoy. The eye-catching logo of Roots was designed and gifted to the festival by local artist Caroline Watson. It was a busy but highly successful nine days! The team are already in discussion for Roots Festival 2021.