Mondo Roots is bringing art and music back to the streets of Clayton this summer. The festival is in its 2nd year, aiming to celebrate diversity and empower the community. On Saturday June 3rd, Main Street and will be full of local artists selling their art, and a select few will be doing live demonstrations. In addition, musical acts will be preforming throughout the day with a DJ spinning in between sets. This all culminates in the headlining act at 7:25 PM which this year will be Nappy Roots – a best-selling hip-hop group that emerged in the early 2000s and has been cranking out music ever since.
Craft beer, wine, and food truck vendors will be on-hand throughout the day. The event officially starts at noon and goes till around 8:00PM. Pets, children, and sundry are welcome. This is a not-to-be-missed festival drawing locals and visitors to Downtown Clayton. I spoke to one of Mondo’s organizers, Dave Brown, about the festival. Dave owns Earth Plow Productions and works to secure the bands for the event. Mondo Roots is a Clayton Visual Arts event.
Nappy Roots?! Amazing! How did such a headliner come about?
Nappy Roots was always who I envisioned headlining this festival from its inception. The goal of Mondo Roots was always to help unify a community and be true to our “roots” here in this part of the state. Nappy is such a great fit on all counts. They are humble, they rap about things that are very familiar to this area of the state, and they have a very positive message, and to boot, they are just all around great people.
Shindig is another music-centric festival in Clayton in the Fall and has had Grammy-winning headliners. Do you feel that booking higher-caliber talent causes attendance growth or that organic festival growth allows for the attraction of big talent?
I believe they work hand in hand. There is a balance that has to happen, we have always prided ourselves on getting the right headliner for the right crowd size estimation and genre. Of course, we have been very fortunate with both of our festivals getting great talent that peaked at the right time. We always have our eye on the “next big thing”.
You work to blend musical genres at Mondo, what are you looking for when you start the signing process with the line-up every year?
Originality, relevance, and musicianship! Mondo gives us the ability to really stretch the boundaries of genres, whereas the Shindig is Americana and Bluegrass, Mondo is about every culture and every genre so the canvas is blank so to speak for choosing the music.
Tell me a little bit about the VIP package this year.
Well, if you want to get a chance to meet and mingle with the bands, and if you like free beer samples provided by Foothills and most importantly if you like shade and comfort the VIP tent is for you. There was a strong demand last year for a “next level” seating area with some amenities, we answered that call by providing the VIP tent. $20 and you are in, best deal in town, AND the proceeds go to House of Hope – a local charity that helps abused and troubled girls.
Beyond the music, Mondo is a celebration of the arts. What's happening this year at the festival as far as art goes?
We have so many artists there it is going to be pretty impressive for our town. The CVA has done a great job jurying the artist row, and making sure that we have truly handcrafted original works of art. We also have a feature artist area where some remarkable artists in the area are going to be performing live art demonstrations. Those include Clark Hipolito, a Clayton-Raleigh area native. We’ll also have Victor Knight III out again, he is a very accomplished and well known graffiti artist in the area. They will join 3 others on the main lawn for an all-day demo.
What's a good estimate for how attendance has grown from year to year? How many people came last year?
We estimated our attendance of just over 1,500 last year, we expect a fairly large jump this year as have added more to the musical lineup and plus the natural maturation process that happens with festivals.
Do you know where attendees are coming from? Local? Regional? Out of state?
Everywhere, I would say that a large portion are local, but I know we have people coming from Virginia, South Carolina and even Tennessee this year. That’s what happens when you put high grade talent on a stage for free and for a good cause.
What makes Clayton the perfect place to host festivals like this?
I think the biggest thing that makes it a good spot to throw festivals is its proximity to Raleigh and other surrounding areas. Plus, since the beginning of our festival days Clayton as a community has been very supportive. In addition, being tucked in a center of a town with historic buildings acting as a backdrop gives us a great canvas to paint this festival on!
For more information visit www.mondoroots.com. The festival itself and all entertainment is free, but if you’re interested in the VIP experience go here.