Today, the Folk Americana Roots Hall of Fame, an initiative of the Boch Center in Boston, announced the lineup for the inaugural WasFest, a unique music experience at the Wang and Shubert Theatres. Curated and hosted by musician, legendary producer, and President of Blue Note Records Don Was, the festival will take place June 23-25 and feature some of Was’s longtime collaborators and friends performing unique sets that fans won’t see anywhere else. WasFest is presented by the Folk Americana Roots Hall of Fame and the Boch Center. Tickets for WasFest go on sale Friday, April 14 at 10:00 am at WasFest.org.
“It was a pleasure to put this festival together, pairing some of my favorite artists performing today with some of my all-time favorite records,” said Don Was. “Albums like Wayne Shorter’s ‘Speak No Evil’ or Grant Green’s ‘Street of Dreams’ don’t always get the attention they deserve, and I hope we can bring some incredible music to new audiences with WasFest.”
WasFest will kick off Friday, June 23 at the Shubert Theatre with Singer-Songwriter Meshell Ndegeocello performing her entire album “Plantation Lullabies,” while pianist Robert Glasper will perform “The Best of Black Radio 1, 2 & 3.” The concert will feature musicians Lalah Hathaway, Bilal, and Stokley.
Also on Friday night, Dark Star Orchestra will perform the same sets The Grateful Dead performed on November 14th, 1978, at what was then the Boston Music Hall, and is now the Wang Theatre. This show was the Dead’s final performance at the Music Hall following more than a dozen performances at the theatre in the 70s.
Saturday will feature the Julian Lage Quartet collaborating with famed keyboardist John Medeski to perform Grant Green’s album “Street of Dreams.” Led by guitar prodigy and Grammy nominee Julian Lage, the acclaimed quartet and Medeski will perform the 1964 album in its entirety. The Gerald Clayton Trio will open with special guests Ambrose Akinmusire and Immanuel Wilkins performing the late Wayne Shorter’s "Speak No Evil.”
The festival will wrap up with a double bill of Boston’s own Lettuce with special guest Judith Hill and English reggae stars Steel Pulse. Lettuce and Hill, will be performing Aretha Franklin’s legendary 1971 album “Live at the Fillmore West,“ which features Respect, Love the One You’re With, Bridge Over Troubled Water and so much more. Steel Pulse will be performing their entire album “True Democracy.”
“This is an all-star lineup from top to bottom, with incredibly talented musicians at the top of their craft,” said Joe Spaulding, President and CEO of the Boch Center. “At FARHOF we are committed to uniting our audiences with the common threads that shape all music. WasFest will allow people in the audience to follow those threads from Jazz to Reggae to Roots and more and showcase the power of music in many forms to bring us all together.”
The Folk America Roots Hall of Fame is a performance and education initiative of the Boch Center. These genres of music have historically provided an outlet for individuals of all races, classes and locations to express their joys and sorrows. Through exhibits, lectures, concerts, and more, Boston’s new cultural destination continues to advance this mission for people of all ages. Recent and current exhibits include Arlo Guthrie: Native Son, Life in Six Strings: Ernie Boch Jr., Don't Think Twice: The Daniel Kramer Photographs of Bob Dylan, 1964-65, Boston: A Music Town, The Wang Theatre: A Century of Great Music; historic artifacts from David Bieber Archives and the Cultural Heroes sculptures on loan from Alan LeQuire Galleries in Nashville.
About Don Was
Born in Detroit, Don Was grew up listening to Detroit blues, jazz music, and the Rolling Stones. He went on to form the group Was (Not Was) with school friend David Weiss (David Was), noted for their success in the 1980s. Now widely recognized as a record producer, Don Was has worked with artists including Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Bonnie Raitt, Iggy Pop, Ziggy Marley, the B-52s, Elton John, Garth Brooks, Lucinda Williams, Old Crow Medicine Show, John Mayer, Ringo Starr, Willie Nelson, Brian Wilson, Kris Kristofferson, and Aaron Neville. He has earned multiple Grammy Awards including Producer of the Year in 1995. Don Was has served as musical director or consultant on several motion pictures including Thelma and Louise, The Rainmaker, Hope Floats, Phenomenon, Tin Cup, Honeymoon in Vegas, 8 Seconds, Switch, The Freshman, Days of Thunder, Boys on the Side, and Toy Story. He earned a British Academy Award (BAFTA) for Best Original Score in recognition of his compositions for the film Backbeat. In 1997, he directed and produced the documentary I Just Wasn't Made for These Times, about former Beach Boy Brian Wilson. The film debuted at the Sundance Film Festival and won the San Francisco Film Festival's Golden Gate Award. He has been serving as President of the legendary jazz label, Blue Note Records, since January 2012.
About the Folk Americana Roots Hall of Fame:
In 2019, the Boch Center expanded its educational programming and launched the Folk Americana Roots Hall of Fame (FARHOF) which celebrates the lifeblood of America’s musical and cultural heritage. Folk music provides an outlet for individuals of all races and backgrounds to express their highest joys and deepest sorrows.
FARHOF is dedicated to honoring history, while also nurturing the next generation of Folk, Americana, and Roots musicians. By learning from the past, the Boch Center and FARHOF hope to influence meaningful conversations today.