Green River Festival announces partial lineup

  • Headliners for the 2021 Green River Festival: Jon Batiste, Shakey Graves, Ani DeFranci, Drive-By Truckers, Valerie June and Mandolin Orange. COURTESY IMAGE/GREEN RIVER FESTIVAL

  • Las Cafeteras play the Dean’s Beans Stage at the 2018 Green River Festival. Staff File Photo/Paul Franz

  • Michael Franti & Spearhead performs on the main stage during the 2018 Green River Festival. Staff File Photo/Dan Little

  • Michael Franti & Spearhead performs on the main stage during the 2018 Green River Festival. Staff File Photo/Dan Little

Staff Writer
Monday, April 19, 2021

GREENFIELD — After having to essentially start from scratch in their planning efforts, organizers of the Green River Festival have announced the first artists of their lineup for August.

This year’s festival is being held later than usual (Aug. 27 to Aug. 29, instead of in July) and at a new location (at the Franklin County Fairgrounds instead of Greenfield Community College) amid the pandemic.

This is also the Green River Festival’s return after last summer, when the festival was canceled due to the pandemic. That would have been the 34th annual festival.

In planning for 2021, everything had to be rethought, from the location to the dates to the roster of performers, said Jim Olsen, the director of the festival and president of Signature Sounds, the Northampton-based company that produces it.

“We pretty much had to start from scratch,” Olsen said.

The first part of the roster was announced Tuesday. Headliners include Ani DiFranco, Shakey Graves, Drive-By Truckers, Valerie June and Jon Batiste, who Olsen noted is the bandleader on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” and is nominated for an Oscar this year for his work on the Pixar movie “Soul.”

More artists will be announced in coming weeks, according to the press release from Signature Sounds.

Although the festival typically happens on the second weekend of July, Olsen said the later date was chosen in the hope pandemic-related conditions might continue to improve, and there may be less chance of having to cancel.

“An event like this, we need to plan far in advance,” Olsen said. “We’re moving forward with the planning, and hoping all will be well.”

Tickets from the canceled 2020 festival will still be honored at this year’s festival.

The venue is different this year, moving to the Franklin County Fairgrounds. That is partly because GCC is still closed to the public and was not available, but also because the Green River Festival has a relationship with the Franklin County Fairgrounds, which has served as an official campsite for festival-goers, Olsen explained.

“We realized the fairgrounds is a great location for a festival,” Olsen said. “It’s all set up for a large-scale event. It’s actually larger than the space we use at GCC.”

An off-site camping location will be announced soon, the press release states.

In the event that the pandemic worsens and it isn’t possible to hold the festival as planned in August, it would be totally canceled, Olsen said.