The Roots Picnic will expand to New York City this fall (updated)

NYC’s version of the Philly-born festival is being pitched as a two-day event this fall, we’ve learned.

Black Thought of the Roots on the mic at last year's picnic.

Black Thought of the Roots on the mic at last year's picnic.

Cassie Owens

UPDATE: 1:30

The Roots Picnic is heading to New York City this fall, Billy Penn has learned.

A source close to the Roots confirmed for Billy Penn that the event is expanding to NYC, and that Philly’s picnics will continue.

This will be the first Roots Picnic outside Philadelphia, where the original genre-bending outdoor music fest is entering its ninth year this June. But according to a draft of planning materials reviewed by Billy Penn, the New York installment would be a two-day event.

“The Roots will maintain their presence in Philly for the picnic for the foreseeable future while expanding the event to NY,” the source wrote via email.

The band is aiming to host Roots Picnic NYC in September or October. No location has been finalized, but according to what appears to be a pitch to the New York City Parks Department, the band would partner on the event with Bryant Park and Live Nation. The materials also offer a barefoot gala and free summer DJ events with Questlove on the ones and twos in New York City parks, meaning a more regular presence for the band in the city than just the weekend picnic.

No details are available about headliners or a specific date, though Live Nation is the show’s expected production partner.

The Roots Picnic in Philly is typically filled by a mix of genres— there’s been jazz musicians, buzzing indie bands, hip hop acts with pop hits for days and so on. The event has shifted a bit. For the main act, the Roots used to link up with a hip hop legend and become, for that night, their backing band, making samples come to life for the likes of Rakim, Nas, Snoop and De La Soul.

They switched things up in 2015: the headliner was Erykah Badu. This year, they’ll be collaborating with Usher, and the line-up is bananas: Future, Kehlani, DMX, Willow Smith, Blood Orange, Anderson Paak and more. 

Bringing the picnic to other cities seems to be long-held goal of the Roots crew. Back in 2008, during the first edition, Black Thought told Okayplayer: “We got our eyes set next year for doing this in Brooklyn and in DC, as well as Philly. So, if we get the right investors, get the right people behind it, this could be something like a Coachella or a Bonnaroo or Lollapalooza. You know what I’m saying? The Blockapalooza.”

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