By ROB DUGUAY
Everybody knows about a certain folk festival that takes place in Newport every July, but there’s another one that takes place in The Ocean State later in the summer. It’s gone down under a different name and in a different location in past years, but it’s always maintained a local vibe while showcasing some of the best acoustic acts in the area. After a year off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Rhode Island Folk Festival is returning to Rose Larisa Park on 70 Bullocks Point Avenue in Riverside on August 29. From noon to 6pm, over 40 acts will be performing on three stages with each act performing a short but sweetly timed set. It’s a free all ages event that’s an ideal way to spend a Sunday.
The non-profit Hear In Rhode Island organizes and produces the festival with longtime music scene staple John Fuzek heading the operation. The organization’s primary goal is to produce free music festivals that promote folk singer-songwriters and it has served tens of thousands of people with high quality music from local and national artists over the years.
“We are more than thrilled to be able to present this year’s festival,” Fuzek says. “Missing last year was sad but necessary, the public’s health is a priority but music is healing. We know how much music means to people and having the opportunity to make people happy during this pandemic is important. We hope that folks will come out to hear the music and we have a lot of it. We also urge people to be safe and vaccinated so everyone can enjoy the festival for many, many years to come.”
Tracie Potochnik and Steve Allain, who make up the musical duo Cardboard Ox, will be co-hosting the Band Shell Stage which overlooks the Providence River. Along with them, Michelle Cruz, Swampbirds, The Dust Ruffles, Peace Collective and How’s About Charlie? will be performing among many others.
“Cardboard Ox is so excited that the Rhode Island Folk Festival is happening, and that we get to play and host the Band Shell Stage again this year.,” Allain says. “It’s our seventh year being a part of this incredible festival and we were so disappointed that last year’s festival had to be canceled. Obviously, it was the right thing to do, but we missed it terribly so I think this year will feel even more special than ever. Plus, there are so many great performers lined up on three different stages, it’s going to be an amazing day.”
Allysen Callery and Avi Jacob are going to be co-hosting the Songbird Stage which plans on granting a more intimate listening experience. Callery and Jacob will both be performing along with Jacob Haller, Linda Marks, Allison Rose, Anthony Loffredio, Karen Zanes, Andrew Victor, Dan Blakeslee and Kim Moberg.
“It’s been my pleasure to host the singer-songwriter stage, now christened the Songbird Stage, for the past four years,” Callery says. “This area is brimming with such incredible talent and this is a fantastic way to have a taste of what they each have to offer. I’m really excited to bring a wide selection of the best local music that I know of, there’s something for everyone.”
Last but surely not least, Beth Barron and Joanne Lurgio will be co-hosting the Emerging Songwriters Stage, which will be set up in the park’s gazebo. In an open mic style, there’s going to be a ton of acts performing including Jake Hunsinger, Steve Donovan, Morgan Johnston, Meaghan Casey, Taylor Brennan, Kevin Horan among others along with both Barron and Lurgio. There will be vendors all over the festival grounds and there’s going to be an abundance of music to go around. It’s going to be one of the best things to do in Rhode Island this weekend so make sure you stop by and check it out. For more info on this year’s Rhode Island Folk Festival, log on to rhodeislandfolkfestival.com.