The Hippo


Jun 2, 2020








Adam Ezra. Copywright 2014 Tim Carter.

TD Bank Livin’ Free Fest

When: Saturday, Aug. 8, at 4 p.m.
Where: Veterans Park on Elm Street, Manchester

InTown jamming
Rootsy Livin’ Free Fest in Manchester

By Michael Witthaus

InTown Manchester closes out the annual TD Bank Summer Fest music series in a big way with a mini-festival of its own. Three popular regional roots rock bands share the stage in Veterans Park for the first-ever Livin’ Free Festival. 

Entrain headlines; the Martha’s Vineyard-based six-piece is renowned for its percussive wizardry. Adam Ezra Group plays a penultimate set; they’re a multiple New England Music Award winner lauded by one critic as “hands down, the best roots rock band to come out of Boston since the Del Fuegos.” The regionally ubiquitous Roots of Creation, also a past NEMA winner, opens the show.
The festival’s name evokes the state motto but is also a play on words reflecting the event’s mission.
“It’s about living and it’s free,” said Jim Roach, the promoter who recruited talent for the show. “Great musicians and like-minded people getting together to spread a little love in Manchester.” 
Roach hopes it becomes an annual event.
InTown Manchester Executive Director Sara Beaudry is pleased at the growth of Summer Fest. 
“When I started, we did between three and four concerts — that didn’t seem like much of a series,” she said in a recent phone interview. “We were able to jump to 10 events this year, and they are going fantastic. We have some great bands.”
Beaudry came up with the idea of the multiband festival as an exclamation point to the season. 
“I was given the opportunity to put on this Saturday event, and I was really excited about it, but I wanted it to be a little bit different than our Thursday night concerts,” she said, noting that she reached out to Roach, a longtime acquaintance. “Any chance I have to work with him, I do.”
The event will shine a light on the Manchester branch of Families In Transition, a charity that helps the homeless. 
Livin’ Free Festival isn’t the final Veterans Park summer event for the business booster nonprofit, however. That distinction belongs to the Aug. 22 Family Fest, with a Where the Wild Things Are theme and 25 local organizations offering kid-centric activities. Ben Rudnick Band, described by Beaudry as a hybrid of Grateful Dead and The Wiggles, provides musical entertainment. 
This year’s busy InTown slate included six Thursday night shows. All were curated with a local focus, and most featured an ensemble paired with a solo opener. Freese Brothers Big Band kicked things off July 9 with support from singer-songwriter Amanda McCarthy, followed a week later by a searing funk and soul set from Manchuka; the inventive Chris Cavanaugh opened. Subsequent evenings had country and patriotic themes.
Incadence, led by local favorite Alli Beaudry, play the last evening show Aug. 6; Concord singer-songwriter Lauren Hurley opens. 
“They are one of the best cover bands I have ever seen,” said Beaudry — Alli is her sister in law. “They do a little bit of everything that appeals to a broad mixture of people. … It’s always a treat to see her perform.” 
When it came to choosing musical talent for the festival, Roach sought acts with plenty of civic energy. “I wanted to find three bands that are socially conscious and uplifting,” he said. 
Each fills the bill: Entrain tours in a biodiesel-powered bus, while Adam Ezra Group has a new video that celebrates — and stars — cancer survivors. Roots of Creation created and host Uplift Music Festival, an annual benefit near their hometown of Peterborough.
For Roots of Creation, doing the show presented a logistical hurdle — Livin’ Free and Uplift both happen the same day. RoC leader Brett Wilson jumped at the chance to appear, however. 
“We’re playing the night before in Rhode Island, so that means three shows in 24 hours,” said Wilson in a recent phone interview. “But we’ll get it done.”
This year’s Uplift beneficiary is Monadnock Hospital and its program that helps families struggling with cancer.
Wilson’s band is scheduled to play early at Livin’ Free, then head west to close out Uplift with a late night set. A guest will sit in on drums at Veterans Park while regular drummer Mike Chadinha organizes things at the show’s site in Greenfield. 
“There’s a bunch of production involved, and hopefully it all goes well,” said Wilson. “My dad’s from Manchester, and a day show there will be fun. Plus, I’m really excited to play some of our new material.” 
As seen in the August 6, 2015 issue of the Hippo.

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