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Arts & Culture

Campus gets folksy at annual festival

Senior Staff Writer
Monday, April 16, 2012

Saturday’s fourth annual Folk Festival brought together an eclectic mix of students, faculty, families and European politicians.

“I come here to have a siesta in the sun,” said Romano Prodi, former prime minister of Italy and professor-at-large at the Watson Institute for International studies.

Sponsored by the student group Folk Musicians of Brown, this year’s event featured a variety of local and on-campus bands that played 30-minute or hour-long sets. The festival kicked off with John Conley, who played guitars made out of suitcases.

The lineup consisted of 17 artists, ranging from rock-oriented folk to guitar folk to Appalachian folk, said Cat Wallace ’15, who was responsible for contacting bands as part of Folk Musicians at Brown. Even sea-shanty folk were represented by Brown’s pirate a cappella group ARR!!!.

“We’ve tried to make the festival more and more representative of local artists,” said Loren Fulton ’12, one of the event’s organizers and a Herald editorial cartoonist.

The daytime portion of the festival emanated a laid-back vibe as the ever-changing audience gathered on Lincoln Field. Shirts and shoes were gradually peeled off under the bright blue sky.

The sunshine was in stark contrast to last year’s festival, which was forced to relocate to Sayles Hall for the entire festival due to inclement weather.

“Nobody is a prima donna,” Prodi said. “We are just spending a nice part of the day.”

Adam Darlow GS also said he enjoyed the relaxed vibe of the festival. “It’s not presumptuous,” he said. “You don’t have to commit. You don’t have to dress up.”

The festival provided a great venue for community members and students to come together on the same lawn, said Becca Rast ‘13.5, another organizer.

As a free event and an alcohol-free event, the folk festival functions as “common ground” between students and the community, Fulton said.

“It’s nice to have a college environment where families can come,” said TJ Ponticelli ’13.

Community member Kathy Silva said her husband attends the event because “he’s an old hippie.” John Silva, her husband, said he found the outdoor setting “relaxing” and added that the festival made him “feel young.”

But the music appealed to diehards and folk novices alike.

“I’m not an expert,” Prodi said. “I am not an American. But I like it – it’s just music.”

The festival began outside at noon and moved into Sayles at 6 p.m. for another six hours of music. The daytime section was more “chill” and family-oriented, while the nighttime portion was catered to students and had a more rocking atmosphere, Wallace said. While attendance experienced several lulls throughout the night, the atmosphere remained energetic, she said.

“We had to earn the crowd,” said Naseem Khuri, lead singer of the Kingsley Flood, the second-to-last band to perform. “But we got a lot of energy out of the room.”

As bands shuffled bass drums and guitars in and out of the back door of Sayles between sets, the building’s wooden walls shook with music and the stomping feet of dancing students.

“Everyone got up and came to the stage – it was captivating,” said Nick Dawson, a member of the Famous Winters.

Last Good Tooth, a high-energy four-man band, closed out the night for the second year in a row.

Cameron Parsons ’14 was less familiar with the band but enjoyed them nonetheless, he said. “This was the first time I ever heard folk, and I’m hooked,” he said. For Parsons, Last Good Tooth’s performance consisted of “good guitar, good mustaches, good atmosphere,” he said.

The Folk Musicians of Brown hold weekly meetings and jam sessions at which they plan the spring festival, Fulton said.

And the festival only continues to grow. “Each year is bigger and better than the last,” Fulton said.

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