Sanctum Sully to headline “Rooster Walk Preview” May 11

7 May

Sanctum SullySanctum Sully has a busy summer ahead, and in many ways it will start this Saturday when the popular progressive bluegrass band plays the “Rooster Walk Preview” show at the Rives Theatre in uptown Martinsville.

The show, which will open with a solo set from Gunchux frontman Rob Cheatham, is a preview event for the fifth annual Rooster Walk Music & Arts Festival. Rooster Walk 5 will take place May 23-26 at Blue Mountain Festival Grounds and feature more than 30 bands.

Saturday’s show at the Rives will also serve as a homecoming of sorts for Sanctum Sully members Jay Franck and Win Webster, each of whom grew up in Martinsville and graduated from Martinsville High School.

“We’ve got a busy couple of months ahead of us, which we’re looking forward to,” said Franck. “Two Martinsville shows with the Rives & Rooster Walk, a big Asheville show at the Grey Eagle with Love Canon. We’re doing a show with Keller & The Travelin’ McCourys and Hot Tuna on June 8th at Pisgah Brewing in Black Mountain. Then Floyd Fest in July … can’t wait to be a part of that.”
Sanctum Sully has played at the Rives each of the last three years, and this time they will have two new band members, as former banjo player Bill Turner and bass player Matt Blue have left the group.

“Life is good. The band is good…though it feels a little different. Bill left the band to help raise his son who was born in November. Blue saw this changing of the guards as a chance to move home to Michigan to be with his family. We dearly miss having these guys around – but the remaining three of us were committed to making music and keeping this thing going. Rather than feeling nostalgic, we’re very excited for the future. We’ve been trying out some new songs live and feel like we’re sounding better than ever.”

New members Dakota Waddell (upright bass) and Bradley “Chum” Carter (banjo) have filled the once-vacant spots, and long-time lead guitarist Matt Mommsen remains a constant, along with Webster and Franck.

Cheatham will open the show with a solo set. A singer/song writer from Charlottesville, he currently plays with the band Gunchux and is the former front man of The Nice Jenkins. His music blends elements of alternative rock, classic country and a Springsteen-esque folk sound.

Saturday’s show is part of the Live at the Rives concert series. Season passes are accepted. Tickets are $8 in advance from Studio 107 or Woodall’s Music & Sounds. Tickets will be $10 at the doors of the theatre. 

“It’s an honor to be the headliner for the Rooster Walk Preview show,” said Franck. “I personally still just get a kick out of seeing our name up there on the same marquee where I grew up seeing my favorite movies. It has always been a real pleasure, that warm and fuzzy kind, to play in Martinsville and see so many familiar smiling faces. Playing Rooster Walk every year has been a blast. We hadn’t been a band for very long at all for RW1 … so we’ve really kind of grown up with the festival. It’s fun to look back on year’s past as each Rooster Walk sort of captures a different chapter in Sanctum Sully’s growth.”

Sanctum Sully will perform at Rooster Walk 5 on Saturday, May 25, while Rob Cheatham and Gunchux will play on Thursday night, May 23.

Rooster Walk will be headlined by Leftover Salmon and Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk. Other bands will include Yarn, Larry Keel and Sammy Shelor, Kung Fu, Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds, Space Capone, Dangermuffin, Lizzy Ross and the Kings of Belmont, among others. The festival will also host the Tuff Strutter 5K footrace on May 26th through a partnership with the local YMCA and Activate. A temporary three-hole disc golf course will be set up at the festival, and a variety of arts, crafts and children’s workshops will also be present.

Rooster Walk was created in memory of late Martinsville native Edwin “the Rooster” Penn and Walker Shank. Proceeds from the festival support the Penn-Shank Memorial Scholarship Fund at Martinsville High School. For more information about the festival, visit

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