Rhythm & Roots More High-Tech Than Ever
Big-Screen TVs, Internet Cafe, Wi-Fi and Smart-Phone Apps
By DAVID McGEE | BRISTOL HERALD COURIER | September 20, 2010*** Published Thurs, Sept 16 in the Bristol Herald Courier. ***
BRISTOL, Va. – Staying connected during the Rhythm & Roots Reunion will be as simple as logging on.
On Wednesday, workers from Bristol Virginia Utilities put the finishing touches on a new BVU Pavilion, a temporary Internet cafe that will offer free use of Internet computers throughout the festival this Friday through Sunday.
BVU also temporarily installed equipment to provide wireless Internet access throughout the Twin City's downtown. The access will come in handy for smart-phone users who can download a free festival application featuring artist schedules, stages, a map and other pertinent information.
"This is our gift to the city," BVU's Gail Childress said Wednesday as she oversaw the installation of furniture and large-screen TVs inside a former travel agency at 709 State St.
"We've sponsored children's day since the beginning, but this is something we wanted to do for Rhythm & Roots," Childress said.
Festival Executive Director Leah Ross said she first asked BVU about offering wireless Internet coverage during the event and the pavilion sprang from those discussions.
"BVU has been great to work with," Ross said. "This will allow our fans to check their e-mail, log on to Facebook or Twitter, blog about the festival or surf the Internet."
Users who prefer to take their own netbook or laptop will find available space inside the pavilion to sit and log on. In addition to a row of tables and chairs, the space will feature couches where fans can relax, watch four large-screen televisions or check their mobile devices.
While it's called a cafe, no food or drinks will be allowed inside, Childress said. BVU personnel will staff the facility all weekend to answer questions.
"We're asking folks to be kind to others at the festival and not stay online too long. As long as no one else needs a computer, it's fine, but otherwise we want to limit it so everyone can use the computers," Childress said.
The wi-fi service should be accessible the length of State Street, BVU technician Bob Ramsey said.
"We've installed units next to Java J's, the old Penney's building outside the BVU Pavilion and near the old Acco-Cowan building," Ramsey said. "It should cover State Street and some of the side streets if you're not behind a building."
The smart-phone application is available now for users of iPhones, Blackberries, Droids and similar devices, Ross said.
"Bonaroo and so many other festivals had a mobile app, but we didn't have money in the budget to do one," Ross said. "But Garden & Gun magazine contacted us and wanted to get involved with the festival. We asked them about creating one and they agreed."
The app, available at http://mobile.bristolrhythm.com, has a complete schedule of all performers for the three-day festival, updated information and artist website addresses.
Ross said the magazine also has been involved in promoting festival artists and music.