Three wicked freakin' awesome free festivals

Rockin’ the nice price
By CHRIS CONTI  |  June 29, 2011

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BURNSIDE-BOUND Javelin.
July is upon us, and Providence is about to ratchet up the al fresco action with an outdoor music festival season sure to satisfy freaks and families alike. From the Independence Day LibertyFest to the return of WBRU's weekly (and free!) Summer Concert Series, the capital city has become synonymous with badass (and budget-friendly) summer jams. Oppressive humidity and swamp-ass be damned — let's roll out the itinerary and highlight a handful of upcoming shows guaranteed to rock your dampened socks.

The four-day weekend is upon us, and while the 4th of July in RI offers infinite entertainment options, be sure to carve out some quality time for the 12th annual LIBERTYFEST on Smith Hill (West Park and Calverly streets) beginning at noon. There's plenty of drink, potluck grub and, of course, the traditional roasted goat accompanying an eclectic roster rocking four stages and over nine hours, plus plenty of family-friendly fun during the day before the Foundry freaks and West Enders come out in full force for the Midnight Creeps, Girl Haggard (featuring 2011 BMP female vox champ Mandy Allan), Maria Monk, Atlantic Thrills, and She Rides (featuring a freshly-shaven Dan Brown) among the 30 local and touring acts scheduled. The lineup is still being finalized, so visit the Facebook page for set times. We caught up with David Rocha, one of the LibertyFest organizers, just prior to deadline.

ORGANIZING 30 BANDS ON FOUR STAGES MUST BE A BIT STRESSFUL. Even more difficult is the fact that we can't fit all the acts that we'd like to have there. It's sort of like putting together a Christmas wish list, then painfully realizing that you can't get everything that you want. Providence has so much talent that we could double this list of acts and it would still be nonstop greatness. It's a herculean effort to try to schedule this many acts, plus many of these artists are headliners in their own regard, so organizing them into a daytime festival requires a lot of compromises and apologies.

WILL THERE BE A COVER CHARGE THIS YEAR? No. None. NEVER.

HOW DID THE ROASTED GOAT TRADITION START UP? Well, because LibertyFest is a potluck event, the roasting of hoofed animals began as a cost-efficient manner of feeding a lot of people. It has become a centerpiece of the party.

WHAT MAKES LIBERTYFEST STAND OUT FROM ALL THE OTHER GREAT PVD SUMMER FESTS? It is organized solely by the community; none of us are getting paid to do this. The bands play for free, the crews work for free, people bring food and drinks to share, folks set up children's activities — it's really quite beautiful. And, for me, it's a blessing to work with people so dedicated to help carry on a Smith Hill tradition. I think the city just has this innate collective desire to throw big parties all summer long, and LibertyFest is the embodiment of Providence's neighborhood spirit. It goes to show that despite all the problems and stresses of the world, we can all get together and be wicked freaking awesome.

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