Whole lotta Foo Fest going on!

By JIM MACNIE  |  August 13, 2010

Of course, the local master of the kids' tunes is BILL HARLEY (1:15 pm). The Grammy-winning songwriter and storyteller is full of charisma, and he has audiences on his side in a matter of moments. I glanced at the video for his "Milky Way" tune the other day and, as he explained how sign language worked, he had me smiling. The pleasure-power of the WHAT CHEER? BRIGADE (6 pm) wasn't lost on those attending the Newport Folk Festival two weeks ago. The hard-hitting brass band was everywhere at Fort Adams — welcoming ticket holders as they arrived, popping out of nowhere on a stone wall overlook, giving folks one last dance before leaving the grounds at the end of the day. I caught them rocking an ersatz klezmer tune at one point, and everyone within earshot had a grin on their face. My favorite member was the drummer who wore a rubber death mask on the 95-degree afternoon. He's going to heaven. ROUTE .44 (2:15 pm) won the Phoenix's "Best Local Album" award last year because This Is My America has focus and scope. That's a tough balancing act, but the group pulled it off nicely. Horns, viola, grooves, weirdness — their music is always spinning. Speaking of strings being put to good use, BROWN BIRD (4:15 pm) uses an array of 'em to bolster the moody wonders that songwriter David Lamb comes up with. Cellos can really cast a spell and, like the Low Anthem or Deer Tick, BB's sound is enticing even when it's deeply somber.

There's a ton of variety at the indoor and outdoor stages of the Foo Fest today. The ever-ebullient KEITH MUNSLOW will guide you through it as the master of ceremonies. More details are at as220.org/foofest_2010/performers.html.

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