Music fans looking for a non-traditional way to celebrate Easter weekend and the beginning of Passover (April 15-17) this year need look no further than the Sarasota Opera House. But it won’t be hearing voluptuous voices singing Madama Butterfly. After a two-year disruption in live music, the annual Rites of Spring Festival (RoSFest), now at its 17th edition, returns to Sarasota with an exciting line-up of acts from past and present to satisfy every taste.
The 3-day festival has been entertaining audiences with international line-ups since 2004, but almost permanently shut down when Covid-19 restrictions ground live music to a halt. Original founder and promoter, George Roldan, cited increasing production costs, tighter visa restrictions, and financial losses due to the pandemic as reasons for no longer being able to continue staging the event. Luckily, with the support of a large fanbase, musician and RoSFest patron, John Blangero, stepped in to revive the festival, putting together a new 6-member Board of Directors to steer the non-profit organization into the future. “People were heartbroken at the thought of RoSFest’s demise”, states Blangero, now President of the Board. “As a lover of the festival, I saw that the community was in need and stepped up”.
This year’s edition of RoSFest will feature 9 bands representing a wide array of progressive and art rock music. The festival is set to kick off on Friday, April 15 at 8:30 pm, with Talking Heads guitarist Jerry Harrison, and former King Crimson guitarist/vocalist Adrian Belew, performing songs off the iconic Talking Heads album, “Remain in Light”, accompanied on stage by ex-members of super funk group, Turkuaz. April 16 – Saturday’s headlining act, progressive rock legend, Jon Anderson, together with students from the Paul Green Rock Academy, will delight concertgoers with classic songs by the band Yes along with a few other surprises. Sunday, April 17, will close out the festival with a rock extravaganza from Miami resident, Dave Kerzner’s All-Stars of Progressive Rock. Six support bands: Robert Berry’s 3.2, Pattern Seeking Animals, Ten Jinn, The Tea Club, Lobate Scarp, and Head With Wings complete the bill.
To see the full schedule and read about the bands click here.
In addition to promoting innovative live music by providing lesser-known acts the opportunity to perform to a large audience alongside established artists, RoSFest’s mission is to foster a community spirit by encouraging local business and school participation. “Our focus in the next few years will be to host an art competition in chosen Sarasota schools to design future RoSFest artwork”, says Blangero. “We want people to return to RoSFest to see major musical artists in an intimate, high-quality setting with a warm and welcoming atmosphere and establish a connection with Sarasota and all it has to offer”.
Single-day and weekend tickets for RoSFest available here.