Favorite bands returning to ROMP

Three of the most popular bands at last year’s ROMP: Bluegrass Roots & Branches Festival will return this year.

The Carolina Chocolate Drops, a black string band, was the most popular act at the festival, according to a survey of 998 people who attended.

Gabrielle Gray, executive director of the International Bluegrass Music Museum, said the Chocolate Drops will return for the June 28-30 festival, along with The Punch Brothers featuring Chris Thile, which ranked third on the survey, and the Louisville-based 23 String Band, which placed fourth.

ROMP, a fundraiser for the museum, is held at Yellow Creek Park in Thruston.

“We have offers out to several more acts,” Gray said. “But it’s a great lineup already.”

Last year’s festival, headlined by Steve Martin & the Steep Canyon Rangers and Emmylou Harris, drew more than 15,000 fans from at least 42 states, plus Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, England, Japan and The Netherlands.

The festival was easily the largest of the 27 bluegrass festivals Owensboro has had since 1985.

It was 44 percent larger than the previous record of 9,500 total tickets sold for the International Bluegrass Music Association Fan Fest at English Park in 1995.

ROMP books both traditional and progressive bluegrass bands as well as roots music performers who aren’t really bluegrass artists.

New for this year in the roots and branches category are St. Louis-based Pokey LaFarge & the South City Three, who mix early jazz, string ragtime, country,  blues and western swing, and Snap Jackson & the Knock on Wood Players, an acoustic quartet from Stockton, Calif., which performs Americana, bluegrass, soul and old time music.

Other acts on the 2012 lineup include Town Mountain, Monroeville, The Expedition Show, The Farewell Drifters, Katie Penn & NewTown, Don Stanley & Middle Creek, NewFound Road, Higher Ground, Renegade String Band and Grandview Junction.

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