PARTY MIX The Gnomes.
The block is hot (like, stifling hot) and about to get hotter as the capital city's grandest music and dance festival — the eighth annual Sound Session — once again descends upon Downcity. Get ready to join approximately 10,000 partygoers around Roots Cafe and beyond, with multiple stages presenting and celebrating cultural diversity all weekend long.
Len Cabral is president of both Providence Inner City Arts (PICA) and the Roots Cultural Center, the principal folks to thank for keeping the festival alive and thriving since jumping onboard last year.
"Festivals are a beast to produce, but our ongoing relationship with staff and volunteers help make it easier," Cabral told me.
While the lineup boasts the typical wide-ranging variety of homegrown and international artists, there is a particular focus on family fun with the new Kid City, including workshops featuring CityArts for Youth. And be on the lookout for the Big Nazo crew offering a project-making workshop to be presented during the Saturday night procession.
"We approached the festival with a 'homegrown' theme this year," Cabral said. He also promised a few "surprises" along the way, so stay tuned.
I inquired about the noticeable lack of hip-hop on the SS '12 roster, though there will be plenty of DJs spinning betweens sets all weekend, including DJ Spin (from WBRU's 360 programming), DJ Magee, DJ Luv, and more. Past years featured performances by Chachi, Juan Deuce, Big Rush, and other notables.
Original Jelly Roll Soul
"While there was an emphasis on hip-hop during the 2011 Sound Session, this year we are highlighting larger stage acts," Cabral said.
The Sound Session action kicked off earlier this week with a handful of prelude events at the Roots Café, leading into an action-packed weekend on stages stationed along Westminster Street (from Union to Mathewson). Hotel Providence will host the popular Sunday morning Gospel Brunch.
Here's a go-to rundown of what's in store:
Kickstart your Sound Session on FRIDAY (the 13th) at Roots with Luna's House Girl Lightning spinning tunes (starting at 7 pm), followed by local, uber-eclectic world-folk-fusion collective the Gnomes (did you pick up Everybody Must Get Gnomed?), Australian folk-pop act Women in Docs, and Original Jelly Roll Soul, with locals Robin Soares & Friends headlining.
The Hotel Providence stage is the site of Kid City, which kicks off SATURDAY (the 14th) at 4 pm and includes appearances from Joe's Backyard Band and activities galore, starting with a percussion workshop hosted by Miguel Almestica, plus big fun with Big Nazo, dance demos and lessons from Project 401 B-Boys, and inspiration provided by Providence CityArts for Youth. African drum and dance ensemble Akwaaba will warm up the Westminster stage, followed by the Caribbean flavor of Los Pleneros del Coco. This year's parade procession begins at 8:30 pm, so get out there and take to the streets (joyfully, of course) with Big Nazo and the Providence Roller Derby ladies, followed by the booming horns of Brass Attack and 2012 Best Music Poll champs the Agents (11 pm). Or rock out at the Mathewson Street stage with hometown greats We Own Land and the Silks (!), and Brooklyn's Miracles of Modern Science.
Terrell Osborne's Music One will provide the sounds at the Gospel Brunch at Hotel Providence on SUNDAY (the 15th) from 10 am-1 pm ($14.95 pp), followed by a special edition of the Who Dat Blues/Jazz Jam at the Roots Café at 7 pm.
Sound Session 2012 tickets are $7 per day for adults and $3 for kids 12 and under (free under 5). Visit soundsession.org for the full scoop.