cutNscratch: A Rooster Walk Co-Founder Moves On; opera and poetry at The Spot; Girl Rock! group directory | The music

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Many positive things have happened for the Rooster Walk Music & Arts Festival since William Baptist co-founded the event in the Martinsville area.

Rooster Walk, intended to posthumously honor the lives of Edwin “The Rooster” Penn and Walker Shank, has become a regional nonprofit that has donated more than $100,000 to a scholarship program destined for Martinsville High School. And it has earned a reputation as a family event on beautiful grounds that attract top touring artists from across the country.

After two years of shutdown due to COVID, the festival is scheduled for its 12th edition, from May 26 to 29 at Pop’s Farm. Baptiste, however, will not be at the center of the action. The festival announced this week that it had decided to leave.

Baptist, who was the event’s chief operating officer, founded Rooster Walk alongside Johnny Buck in 2009. Baptist and Buck, the executive director, created Rooster Walk in memory of childhood friends, natives of Martinsville, died when they were in their twenties.

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Baptist, in an exchange of messages on Facebook, said he was grateful to his colleagues, board members, supporters, sponsors, artists and especially the fans of Rooster Walk “for making the Last 15 years of my life so rich in memories and experiences.

“We started this thing when we lost two very special people. My experiences with Rooster Walk made me feel a closer presence to Edwin and Walker (and others we lost along the way) and all they stood for. I would never have been able to deal with the loss of my two best friends without finding my joy in bringing joy to others.

He said he was looking to learn new skills and create, and was moving to Charlottesville. Baptist has lived at Pop’s Farm most of the time since Rooster Walk moved there in 2015.

“It will be interesting to try a ‘9-5’ job,” he wrote. “I hope I can get off work at work for a little while and spend more time with my family and friends who are like family. I promise this won’t be the last time our music scene sees me.

Rusty Lacy, chairman of the board of directors of Rooster Walk Inc., said in a festival press release that he and everyone associated with the festival are grateful for Baptist’s time and effort.

“Without him, the company and the festival would not exist as we know them today,” Lacy said in the statement. “His countless hours of work, as well as his vision and imagination will leave an indelible mark. We wish him nothing but the best as he embarks on new endeavors.

The festival has launched a search to fill the position.

Grace Potter, Little Feat, Lettuce, and Moon Taxi headline this year’s release. To hit for more info and tickets.

Opera and poetryOpera Roanoke and The Spot on Kirk combine on March 17 to explore the intersection of music and poetry with two MacArthur “Genius” Fellows.

A Way With Words: A Celebration of Black Voices in Poetry and Music will feature Terrance Hayes and Tyshawn Sorey. Hayes is a poet and professor of English at New York University. Sorey is a multi-instrumentalist and composer. The men co-wrote Cycles of My Being with internationally acclaimed tenor Lawrence Brownlee, who will perform it May 1 at Shaftman Performance Hall at the Jefferson Center. Opera Roanoke is funding the project with a $15,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

At the March 17 event, Hayes and Sorey will share stories and music from their perspective as black artists, according to a press release from Opera Roanoke.

“Having performers of this caliber here in Roanoke is going to be an unforgettable experience,” Opera General Manager Brooke Tolley said in the press release. “We want people to know that while opera is our daily bread, providing unique experiences that wouldn’t exist without arts organizations in our community is also important to us.

Tickets are $20 via 540-982-2742 or

Rock girls! Roanoke adds music listsAre you a female, non-binary, or gender-diverse person looking to get their music out there? Rock girls! Roanoke has a service for you.

The Musical Girls After School and Summer School Program has added a band directory to its website. Go to to publish the information of your act. The organization’s executive director, Lacey Levy, said in an email that the free listing, called Girls + Rock Roanoke Collective, is intended to help venues, festivals and talent scouts easily find artists.

“We’re working to do our part to make sure music is fair and accessible!” Levy wrote.