What better way to celebrate Labor Day weekend than with 10 hours of free music? That’s right, the 21st Keene Music Festival takes place this Saturday, September 3, the best summer farewell possible.
The event will feature original music from nearly 60 artists from across New England on six downtown stages.
This year’s music covers genres such as rock, folk, electronic pop, bluegrass, punk, metal, rap, indie and many more. Many musicians have been performing at the festival for several years and every year new faces appear on stage, with local and returning artists taking precedence.
“We start looking in May and June on Facebook and Instagram for groups (to invite),” said festival volunteer Chelsey Gorczyca. “The schedule is live, so if people want to play that day, they can find (the music festival) on Facebook or Instagram. I tell (musicians) to keep an eye on our social media.
As always, the City Tire stage will feature punk, alternative and metal, including festival regulars Zombie Beatdown, punk/alternative metal band Lobotomobile and Boston-area rock pirates Jonee’s Earthquake. Back for their second year, New Hampshire band Side Effects May Include.
Also returning to Railroad Square this year will be hip-hop artist Humble Among, who performs “psychedelic comedy horror rap”; with TIP, a high-energy five-piece band based in Amherst, MA and formed at Keene State College in the late 90s.
The Lamson Street scene features mostly alternative artists, and this will again be the case this year with bands such as Boston indie rockers Aqua Hamster, as well as several new artists. One is Donut Kings, who describe themselves as “your original friendly neighborhood garage band.”
Another Keene-born band, Kendall Row (led by Gavin Key, who hosts the annual Robin Hood Park Jamfest), play Central Square; and indie rockers and festival stalwarts Jake McKelvie and the Countertops will close the Railroad Square stage as they traditionally do – this will be their eighth annual performance.
Gorczyca said this year’s bands play many different categories of rock as well as folk and country. The Green Mountain Strummers, a ukulele band from Brattleboro, are among about a dozen new artists at the festival this year.
She is thrilled to see performances by Boston’s Witch Cake on the Lamson Street stage, playing “loud, raunchy rock,” and Massachusetts electronic pop duo Telelectrix (playing on the Railroad Square stage).
“They’re at the top of my list,” she said.
Dave Painchaud, guitarist for festival rookie Strangers in the Basement (playing in Central Square), will perform at his eighth festival this year. In recent years he has played with two other bands, most recently as the drummer for psych-prog-fusion rockers (and festival veterans) Omoo Omoo.
Keene’s Strangers in the Basement, made up of three local teachers (including Painchaud) and a doctor (founder and vocalist Rob Guardiano), are influenced by ’90s alternative rock. Colonial Theatre’s SHOWROOM, plans to record its music this winter at Loud Sun Studios in Jaffrey. The festival will attract what will be the group’s largest audience to date.
Painchaud has been attending the festival for 20 years.
“Keene’s music scene is quite diverse but still very inclusive,” he said. “Passersby will stop and support whatever level the musician demonstrates. The festival provides another reason to hang out in downtown Keene; it is still a place for art at all levels. I would like to see this continue to grow.
Gorczyca recommends visiting the festival’s Facebook page for up-to-date schedules, band spotlights, a map of the stage, and links to musicians’ music.
The 21st Keene Music Festival takes place this Saturday, September 3 starting at 10:45 a.m. in downtown Keene. The event is free. For more information, visit Keene Music Festival on Facebook.
The 63rd Art in the Park, which opens on the same day as the Keene Music Festival a few blocks away, takes place under tents this Saturday, September 3 and Sunday, September 4 at Ashuelot River Park on West Street.
More than 65 artists from across New England will be featured at this year’s Monadnock Area Artists Association event (2020 was the first year in its history that it hasn’t taken place), representing
a wide variety of styles and media (fine art only), including sculpture, pen and ink, photography, pencil, mixed media, charcoal, pastel, and paint (oil, acrylic and watercolor).
Each artist will set up a booth in the park and showcase their original artwork as well as merchandise featuring that artwork, including prints and cards.
The event – once held over one day – has blossomed considerably since its first year, when a group of a dozen artists presented works at what was called The Art Festival. It was in Keene’s central plaza, and the artists hung their paintings around the township on temporary wooden fencing provided by the town.
Nearly 10 of the participating artists are new to Art in the Park this year, said Mary Delisle, co-chair of the event with George Foskett.
On that list is watercolor artist Cheryl Sager, who grew up surrounded by 75 acres of farm and woods, where she developed a love for the trees, rocks, water and plants that are her subjects. She also lived in California, where she explored miles of forest and coastline before settling in Exeter, NH.
Also new to this year’s event is Massachusetts artist Lisa Nelson, an illustrator and graphic designer inspired by nature, mythology and history.
Art in the Park Milford, NH resident David Harris is a landscape and still life painter who grew up in Western New York and is drawn to the oceans, forests and mountains.
Returning artists this year include Maggie Cahoon, who explores the “inner landscapes of the human psyche” using alcohol ink and a wax-based medium, encaustic; artist Keene David Bulger, who creates works in paint and pencil in his studio in Harrisville; and American realist painter Kyle Stuckey, who grew up in the Monadnock area and now lives in Charleston, SC
Art in the Park participating artist Alyssa Belval described her work, “These are ink drawings, and I think my inspirations would be the beauty and diversity of nature, including the human form. My process usually starts with a portrait and I add natural elements to it until I’m happy with it.
Students from Keene High School will be exhibiting their work again in the main tent this year (winners will be rewarded), as will members of the Keene Photography Club.
Prizes will be awarded to artists for first, second and third place (and honorable mention). This year, judges will evaluate the work for qualities such as originality, innovation and vitality.
There will be an arts raffle to support the Monadnock Area Artists Association Scholarship Fund for a student from Keene High School pursuing further education in the arts (the only fundraiser in the ‘association). The raffle allows visitors to win a work of art of their choice.
There will be live music, grills and baked goods prepared by the Keene High School Interact Club and the tennis club. Frozen sweet treats will be available for sale at Frisky Cow Gelato.
The 63rd annual Art in the Park will take place this Saturday, September 3 and Sunday, September 4 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days. Admission to the event is free and the park is handicapped accessible. Visit www.monadnockareaartists.org for more information.