The summer sun has arrived just in time for the "premier genre-defying summer music festival" known as Sound Session '09, a weeklong block party and musical melting pot for the masses kicking off on Sunday, July 5 and culminating in the climactic, carnival-style parade trough downtown on Saturday, July 11. The sixth annual series will expand citywide, having umbrellaed a slew of free or low-dough gigs from parks to clubs and cafés, anticipating more than 60,000 music lovers and partygoers throughout the week. From Latin jazz to salsa to alt-rock to gospel and reggae — SS'09 has you covered.
The highly successful partnership between the Providence Black Repertory Company and the Department of Arts, Culture & Tourism has paid dividends yet again with the inclusion of the Kennedy Plaza Skating Center as a main stage venue and bringing some serious heat with a sick roster of rap talent that includes street legends Fat Joe and Noreaga, backed by a bevy of renowned Rhody wordsmiths on Friday, July 10. Other top shelf headliners include Chilean singer/songwriter Claudia Acuna, the Washington, DC-based Marc Cary Trio, and New York-via-London Afrobeat icon Wunmi, who tore the house down at last year's event.
"Sound Session is the type of experience that positions Providence as a city that embraces individual expression and cultural diversity," said PBRC executive/artistic director Donald King.
Sound Session's all-encompassing mantra is even more evident this year, looking to "expand the festival footprint" by incorporating the Cape Verdean Independence Day Festival along with nearly 50 venues throughout the city. The Black Rep recently hosted a weekly Sound Search contest and the three winners — Santa Mamba, Infusion Experience, and Boston's Los Sugar Kings — will perform, and will be guaranteed prime time slots at Sound Session '10. And this year the Black Rep decided to hook up the majority of Sound Search contestants with performance opportunities.
"This year marks the beginning of something bigger," said Donald King. "We've established so many new and wonderful relationships with our New England artists, and we will continue to aggressively advocate for all participants."
With five main stages and dozens of shows scheduled, Sound Session '09 is gonna be straight bananas. We're here to help map out the madness with a glimpse of the lineup.
SS '09 officially kicks off on Sunday (the 5th) when WBRU hosts a gospel brunch starring chorale ensemble RPM Voices at Xxodus Cafe. Tix are $25 for the buffet (including a free mimosa) catered by Food For the Soul, with seatings at 10 am and 2 pm. India Point Park will host the Cape Verdean Independence Day Festival starting at noon, and later that night the Sound Session Kickoff Party presents a host of DJs, including Detroit native DJ Benzi (who recently teamed with Kanye for the Sky High remix album), plus a set from 2009 Best Music Poll nominee Theo Martins, sure to have the Xxodus Cafe jumping when he drops his infectious single "Say It Right."
On Tuesday (the 7th), 'BRU presents "Rock It Don't Stop It" at Xxodus, featuring acclaimed local acts Route .44 and Rock Hunt champs Fairhaven, along with indie crooner Brad Huff (ex-Jim James Band), Grand Army, and DJ Ty Jesso spinning between sets ($10 at the door).
A pair of after-work freebies begin the night on Wednesday (the 8th), with locals Infusion Experience performing their brand of "Latin jazz with a flamenco flair" at Brown Street Park, while reggae/soca outfit Rooted Sound visit Burnside Park; both shows start at 5 pm. And on Wednesday night, Carlos De Leon & the UN Band, Manolo Mairena, and DJ Papo fill the Xxodus dance floor. Tix are $20 at the door.
It's poetry in motion on Thursday (the 9th) when local spoken word artist Christopher Johnson presents the Word Warriors Tour at Local 121 ($5 at the door). Then head to Xxodus Cafe when the Phoenix hosts the Afrosonic Collective ($15 in advance) booming out soulful Deep House grooves.
This miraculous run of sunshine better stick around for Friday (the 10th) when Kennedy Plaza pops off with an unbelievable gathering of local rap talent. Rhody-based hip-hop is alive and well, as evidenced by this ill lineup: Starrs & Murph, Poorly Drawn People, Jon Hope, and my man Romen Rok will warm the stage for Ron Brownz, Noreaga, and Joe Cartagena, aka Joey Crack, aka Fat Joe, the Bronx legend who is set to release his ninth studio album, Jealous Ones Still Envy 2. Meanwhile, the Lupo's Block Party will be in full swing a few hundred yards away, with a varied slate of high-octane local acts including Senior Discount, the Agents, the CobraMatics, and Someday Providence sharing a bill with veteran Sublime tribute band Badfish. Doors for both shows open at 5 pm. Or chill out and soak up some jazz a few blocks over at Xxodus Cafe with the Marc Cary Trio soothing the after-work crowd with from 5 to 7 pm ($5 at the door). Friday night wraps up with the storied Back Lot After Party at the Black Rep, featuring local Cape Verdean rapper Chachi. Charlie "Chachi" Carvalho killed at last year's Sound Session, and this time around he's bringing his live band Eleventh Island to back him.