The festival is the pandemic-inspired brainchild of drummer Dan Ryan (Madaila, Dan Ryan Express) and guitarist Michael-Louis Smith (Brooklyn Circle). During quarantine, the two musicians would chat over Zoom and scheme ways they could revitalize the community once live shows returned.
"Usually we'll all have a summer of shows booked," Smith explained over another Zoom call, this time with Seven Days. "Obviously coming out of pandemic, that wasn't the case, so we were just trying to be proactive."
"It would be around 2 a.m. usually," Ryan added with a laugh. "Some beers and a Zoom and ideas. We just kept saying how cool it would be to throw the comeback festival."
"The Comeback Fest was the original idea for the name, actually," Smith said. "That changed after I talked to Rob Morse."
Morse (Vorcza) offered up his family farm, the Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks as a venue, which was ideal for Smith and Ryan's plans. From there, the pieces started falling into place, from sound and lighting to promotion. Smith and Ryan enlisted people they knew from their many years in the music scene, all with an eye to the future.
"We made such great connections and assembled such an awesome team," Smith recounted. "So we have this base of people we can keep working with and hopefully continue the festival into the future. "
"It was magic, how it came together," Ryan added. "Just a lot of musicians and friends. The fact that we're not a bunch of suits, I think that made people want to help us out. The musicians in this community, we've always got each other's backs."
Both Ryan and Smith will perform with multiple acts at the festival. Even though Ryan said it will be "somewhat hectic and stressful" to split duties as organizers and performers, the two musicians are otherwise excited to debut their new festival.
"It's a festival by musicians, so there's no middle man," Smith said. "I think that makes us unique. And beyond that, it's a night of great music at a beautiful venue. That's hard to beat!"
The Maple Roots Festival is free and open to the public, and features food and beverages sold by local vendors. Onsite parking is $20 per vehicle. Visit maplerootsfest.com for more information.