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The Best Summer Music Festivals (You’ve Never Heard Of)

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Each year, Rhode Island hosts quite a crop of must-see music festivals, with big name acts, thousands of people, and headline-making performances.  The Newport Folk Festival has hosted American icons like Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Johnny Cash, and Muddy Waters and thousands attend the Newport Jazz Festival, Providence Sound Sessions, as well as Rhythm and Roots. 

But what about the music festivals you may never have heard of?  With a cheaper ticket price, fewer crowds, and a chance to see some bands before they make it big—check out this alternative line-up. 

“All these larger more established festivals are wonderful for seeing music that you’re familiar with,” says Tom Chace, who recruited many of the bands for the New Music Festival in Cranston tonight, “For our festival there are people I’m taking a chance on—there is a little bit of an edge in terms of the acts.”  

Read more about Rhode Island’s smaller music festivals, and take your summer music plans off the beaten path.  

New Music Festival (Artist's Exchange)

When: Saturday June 25 (noon-11pm)

Where: 50 Rolfe Square, Cranston

Why: This festival will actually hold true to its promise; “the sensibility that we have is fresh and original music,” says Chace. The New Music Festival will feature several premieres with all original music coming from over thirty local bands, hailing from all over Southeastern New England. See these bands on three distinct stages—one outdoor festival stage with bigger bands, one “theater rock” stage with multimedia capacity, and one acoustic stage for singer-songwriters. 

Go: Tickets are $10 per day, $15 for both days, at the door only.

West Broadway Neighborhood's Annual Block Party

When: Saturday June 25 (2-8pm)

Where: Hudson Street, Providence

Why:  For local music amidst a jovial carnival-like scene, visit West Broadway Neighborhood’s Block Party.  The Silks begin with some folky, roots music at two, and Joe Fletcher & the Wrong Reasons play some old-school blue grass at seven. In between local music acts, Chifferobe will provide “roving entertainment,” plus fun activities, like a dunk tank and a photo booth, abound. 

Kingston Chamber Music Festival 

When: Wednesday July 20 – Sunday July 31, all concerts begin at 8pm

Where: Fine Arts Center at the University of Rhode Island, main campus, Kingston

Why: The lesser-known music festivals also includes some sounds that your parents will appreciate—the Kingston Chamber Music Festival at URI features twenty-two musicians, nine of whom are making their debut.  Each of the six concerts on the schedule features a range of classical sounds—Sunday, July 24th stands out feature pieces by Mozart, Strauss, Brahms, and Ravel.

Go: Tickets $20 individually, $70 for four, $100 for all.

Foo Fest 

When: Saturday August 13

Where: Downtown Providence

Why: The small and quirky festival defines small music festivals for downtown Providence. With ten bands on the outdoor stage, twelve bands on the indoor stage and multimedia and arts installations through out (including a soda-drinking simulation by artist and game developer Will Brierly), this music and arts festival transforms downtown in a not-to-be missed scene with sounds that are sure to be local, experimental, quirky, and original.

Go: Tickets are $5

Newport Storm Luau 

When: Saturday August 20, 4:30-10pm

Where: Fort Adams State Park, Newport

Why: The event, presented by Coastal Extreme Brewing Company (the brewers of Newport Storm) has a Hawaiian theme, perhaps only sensible because of its proximity to seawater, will include live music and, of course, Newport Storm beer.

Go:  Tickets at $15 at the door, $10 in advance, and benefit Fort Adams Trust. It’s a 21+ event.

FOOS Fest 

When: September 25

Where: 50 Rolfe Square, Cranston

Why: The Artist’s Exchange hosts another event with live music—as the ideal way to celebrate the end of summer.  Plans are underway, but sure to feature the original and local vibes that the New Music Festival carries out. 


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