News Column

Acoustic fest marks 35th year Sunday

August 8, 2014

By Arianna MacNeill, Gloucester Daily Times, Mass.

Aug. 08--ROCKPORT -- Milbrook Meadow is expected to be alive with the sounds of live music Sunday, thanks to the town's annual Rockport Accoustic Music Festival.

The event is in its 35th year and has remained true to its original form, allowing musicians young and old with varying levels of skill and performance experience to take to the festival's outdoor stage. And the event remains free, as it has for the past 31/2 decades, said David Cutler, one of the event's organizers and spokesman.

"Yes, there's a crowd there ... but it's music for the sake of music," Cutler said. "It's all volunteers."

Cutler said the festival was started by people who wanted to share music in the park. At the time, they only used acoustic instruments.

Now, the 35th festival will span from sound checks starting at noon with the last act planned for 5 p.m. that evening. This year, the festival also falls in with what organizers are calling Illumination Weekend, with the town's second ever fireworks show slated for Saturday night. Paper lanterns are also planned to be placed throughout town and lit during the weekend.

Musical genres are varied, from blues and folk, to world, fusion and hip hop. Electric instruments are now a part of the festival's musical landscape as well.

Many performers are seasoned musicians who have played at the festival before, while for others it's the first time they're taking the stage.

"Every year I try to have a musician, or a group of musicians, that haven't played at it before," Cutler said.

Performers include Alek Razdan and A-Train Orchestra, a blues band based out of Rockport and Gloucester. They will take the stage at 5 p.m., the festival's last performers.

"It's just a jewel people don't know," Cutler said of the group.

Sam Bowen and Blue Cat Groove will also perform. Based in Worcester, they, too, take on the blues in their music.

"It's not just local bands," Cutler said.

A total of 10 performers are scheduled in all, each slated for about a half-hour performance each.

Musicians will be selling CDs for those interested, he said. Food -- including a lot of barbecue favorites -- can also be purchased from Claire Franklin, who organizes the New Years Rockport Eve. Proceeds from food sales, Cutler said, will directly support this event.

Depending on the weather, Cutler said the festival usually draws "a few hundred or twice a few hundred." In the case of inclement weather, the rain location is Spiran Hall on Broadway.

Those interested in attending can bring a blanket or lawn chairs to use while enjoying the music.

"It's professionally done but it's not serious," Cutler explained. "It's kind of loose and that's the beauty of it."

Arianna MacNeill can be reached at 978-675-2710 or at Follow her on Twitter at @GDTArianna.


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Source: Gloucester Daily Times (MA)

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