Blame My Roots Festival Ready to Roll

The Blame My Roots Festival preparations are nearly complete. The festival will begin Thursday at the Valley View Campgrounds in Belmont.

MORRISTOWN — With the absence of Jamboree in the Hills this summer, the owners of Valley View Campgrounds are hoping to fill the vacuum with their own music festival — Blame My Roots.

In recent days, a logo has been erected on the property and people will soon see more signs of a music festival with stages and equipment for the artists.

Chris Dutton, one of the organizers spearheading the festival, said these were only the tip of the iceberg, with much of the preparation going on behind the scenes. The Gentile family owns the Valley View Campgrounds, which neighbor the former site of Jamboree in the Hills.

“Even in November we felt we had this obligation to at least look into it and see if there is something we can pull off,” Dutton said.

“Probably the biggest obstacle we have is everything is rented,” he said. “Much like you renting a tent for a graduation party, it comes the day before or the morning of. … That’s pretty much how these stages work. They’ll be coming in Wednesday and Thursday. It’s big equipment. Over $1 million worth of equipment is going to be on the ground and it’s put up in three or four hours.”

“It’s big stages and big equipment, but we’re not building anything,” Dutton said. “I think everyone’s waiting to see us build a big, red barn with a hanger door on the front. That’s just not what we’re doing.”

Dutton’s enthusiasm was evident when he spoke about setting up the roadside signage and logo. When formulating the festival, he said from the start, he wanted “roots” to be part of the name.

“It’s got a little attitude behind it. It can mean so many things,” Dutton said, adding that the writing is an homage to Jamboree In The Hills.

“We had a huge response when we announced it. I think we surprised a lot of people with how we put that thing together. We stayed relatively quiet through the winter as we were just trying to see if we could actually do it. It was very tedious trying to figure out the booking process,” he said. “Trying to get Nashville to understand we were really trying to put something together, we really had the resources to do it, we had a venue where we could do it and we had experience in something similar as far as being a campgrounds.”

Dutton said he has seen an impressive response in social media and Google hits, with close to 180,000 views of the launch video.

“All these numbers were massive,” he said. “It’s been steady every since. Just excitement at seeing something being put together.”

While their primary experience is in campgrounds, Dutton said the organizers have been working with booking agents to meet the challenge of promoting the event and bringing in artists.

Dutton said the proximity of the campground to the traditional site, their experience with Jamboree In The Hills and with the camp site, and his availability to organize, created a unique opportunity to continue the beloved concert tradition, but there was still no shortage of challenges.

Dutton, who works in Columbus as a realtor, has effectively taken a work hiatus to concentrate on helping bring Blame My Roots to life.

“I’ve been here four days a week for the past month,” he said.

“I think we took some people by surprise that we had the start of a really good show put together,” he said.

The festival has secured a mix of past and newer performers.

“We wanted to have a mix of some legacy acts and some younger people,” he said. “There are a lot of generations represented at Jamboree.”

Performers will include performances from Tyler Farr and Whey Jennings, guitar playing by Lindsay Ell, and old-school songs from Dillon Carmichael. While he has been working primarily through a booking agent, he has spoken to some of them and looks forward to meeting them all directly.

“They’re excited to be there,” he said. “It’s going to be interesting when I talk to these guys, what their response is like. A lot of these guys have played Jamboree, and it’s right across the street. I’m excited to hear what they think. … I’ve chatted with Joe Zelek. He’s such a fan of what’s going on and he understands the tradition and the roots as much as anyone…I love the lineup, I’m proud of the lineup.”

“We’ve got a guy like Tyler Farr who has a lot of hits. We have a band, … Whiskey Myers. They’ve gotten really big because they’re on the TV show Yellowstone,” he said. The band recently opened for the Rolling Stones, on their “No Filter” tour, in late June.

While they are seeing steady ticket sales and are expecting a significant spike shortly before the start, the three-day event will not have the scale of Jamboree In The Hills. Dutton hopes the crowd will be more manageable than Jamboree’s famously energetic crowds, which unofficially opened the festival with the “Redneck Run” to secure a good vantage point.

“When you’re looking at security controls and you’re looking at EMS, you’re looking at your gates and all the people who you’re hiring,” Dutton said.

“We wouldn’t be able to handle 10,000 people in there. Not in a rush at the end,” he said. “We’re not going to get 15,000 and we’re not going to get rushed at the gate. This isn’t going to be a Woodstock situation where it’s going to be chaos.”

Dutton added that another challenge was the insurance process, which started in January and wrapped up last week.

The festival will be held Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 43263 National Road. For more information, visit www.blamefest.com.

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