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CHARLESTOWN - For Magnolia, a 7-piece Cajun based in New England, playing the Rhythm and Roots Festival at Ninigret Park is like home. The band, which formed in 1989, has played the festival every year since.
"We have played there every single year since we have been a band," said Michelle Kaminsky, one of Magnolia's fiddle players, "and we look forward to continuing to do so."
Magnolia may be known by most around Rhode Island for their monthly dances in Pawtucket, which have been happening for over 15 years. The band will play their traditional Cajun style music and teach people 2-step and waltz dances to go along with it.
If not for their Pawtucket dances, Rhythm and Roots Festival-goers may recognize the band's twin-fiddle, accordion, guitar, bass, drum, vocals and sometimes even a triangle. They have played every year at the festival's dance tent, but this year will be laying in the workshop, which gives the audience and intimate experience, up close and personal with the musicians.
Kaminsky will be a perfect fit in the workshop, because she has tremendous experience talking about music and imparting her knowledge onto others. She teaches fiddle at the Augusta Heritage Center in Elkins, W. Va., a hub of traditional Cajun music.
She also directs the Cajun Academy for Kids at the Rhythm and Roots festival. The academy is open to students 8-17 years old and culminates in a student performance on Sunday, the last day of the festival. Students of all different levels can learn guitar, Cajun fiddle, accordion, bass and mandolin.
"The Cajun Kids Academy offers children the opportunity to play these instruments and learn more about Cajun music, and I love teaching it to them," Kaminsky said.
Kaminsky could barely hold in her excitement for the festival. She loves it because it is her type of music in her home, a place where is is not too often played. Also, because she is not only able to perform with Magnolia, she gets the opportunity to teach music too.
"It's a thrill for Magnolia to share to share our love of cajun music as the hometown band, as well as getting people out on the dance floor to try some cajun and zydeco dance steps," she said.
"I love all of the dancing, the great people, great lineup," she said. "We love to share cajun music as New Englanders."
She continued, "it is such a great festival and we are excited to play again. There's a huge variety and many kinds of music, four stages, intimate experiences in the workshop, the dance tent, kids tenet, games, food and craft."
without taking a breath, she added, "great mood, great weather, and just a really nice place to spend the day."