More than 800 people, plus six hot bands, played in the park Saturday, Aug. 23, at the fifth annual Summit Music Festival.
The personal project of Summit Neighborhood Association President Dean Weinberg, who put in countless hours to put it together, the free musical extravaganza held in Lippit Park also included a 40 foot-by-8 foot art wall, face painting and other activities for children, a beer and wine garden from Trinity Brewhouse for adults, plus a long string of craft vendors and a vast collection of food trucks and carts that supplemented the park’s playground, fountain, hummingbird habitat and expanses of green open space.
The weekly Hope Street Farmers’ Market in the morning contributed to the festive atmosphere, as many people stayed for the music that started at 1 p.m. and went until just after 6 p.m.
After a welcome to the crowd by master of ceremonies Weinberg, Dr. Jones and the Shiners, a Providence-based folk-rock band led by Kate Jones, opened the show. The band represents a sort of folk supergroup for Providence, featuring members of The Sugar Honey Iced Tea, The Mighty Good Boys and Moga. Bassist Ollie Williams is also a member of Smith&Weeden, which played later in the day. Jones’ distinctive vocals, backed by the plucking of her ukulele, mixed well with the guitar playing of Benny Tilchin, who is her off-stage sweetheart.
Next was the first of two appearances by 16-year-old singer-songwriter Emeline Easton, who was a sensation at last year’s festival. Easton worked through a few tunes, including originals and a cover of Britney Spears’ “Toxic.” The audience response to Easton last year all but demanded she be asked back this year, and she delivered two sets worthy of that praise.
Following her was another Providence band with promise, Smith&Weeden. Members Jesse Emmanuel Smith, Seamus Weeden, Ollie Williams and Dylan Sevey ripped through a set featuring tracks from their newly released, self-titled album. They had the crowd on their feet with fists in the air as they performed their versions of gritty Americana bar rock. This is a band with promise, and had the audience praising the set throughout the rest of the day.
As the stage was reconfigured, East Side piano teacher Johnny Lingo led a variety of duets with three of his students, including Summit resident Amelia Gold.
Then from Tampa, Fla., came the Selwyn Birchwood Band. Selwyn Birchwood is a young electric blues guitarist who has been sweeping up awards all over the world in the last two years. The quartet of seasoned bluesmen proceeded to rain a powerful and electric set over Lippitt Park. They fit the gig into a tight schedule, playing the festival on their way to a show that night in Boston.
Easton did her second set and stayed on stage to help SNA members Weinberg, Sheila Perlow and Anneliese Greenier with drawing names for a raffle of prizes from local artists and craftspeople.
The top-billed attraction for the day, Red Baraat, a unique blend of Indian percussion, brass and funk from Brooklyn, then took the stage and immediately brought listeners to their feet. And the crowd, nearly 1,000 strong by this point, remained on its feet for the 75-minute balance of the event. Having last performed in Providence when they headlined the FirstWorks Festival two years ago, Red Baraat has only gotten tighter and more energetic. They had the crowd bouncing and grooving until the end, and then some.
Earlier, HealthSourceRI, the official health-care insurance exchange for Rhode Island and the festival’s biggest sponsor, made an appeal to the crowd to use the portal to get coverage under the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.
The other sponsors were Empire Guitars, Seven Stars Bakery, Mortgage Network, Sandwich Hut, The Rhode Guide Real Estate Co., Daniele Foods, Kreatelier, Frog & Toad, The Camera Werks, Hope Street Merchants Association, Hope Street Farmers Market Association and the City of Providence.
But mainly, the order of business for the day was music and fun, as families and singles, young and old, ate, drank, clapped, danced and generally partied the afternoon away.
The bands were so hot, the city sent a fire truck early just in case, but it wasn’t needed as the audience left the park in good spirits.