PAWTUCKET — There was dancin’ in the street on Saturday, as the fifth annual Rocktucket music festival got underway on a perfect early fall day.
The line-up began at 11:30 a.m. with over a dozen bands and performers scheduled to take the Main Street stage. Rich Watrous, Pawtucket Arts Festival co-chairman, explained that the more “family friendly” bands, with folk and acoustic styles and country rock would be featured early on. Later in the afternoon, the music would turn more to rock and grow increasingly harder in sound until nighttime, when it would switch over to hip-hop. “We’re trying to stagger three different genres throughout the course of the event,” he said.
Watrous noted that one of his favorite bands, Girls, Guns & Glory, would be performing later that night at the Ocean Mist in Matunuck for a $25 cover charge. Yet, the Rocktucket audience could enjoy them for free.
John Baxter, Pawtucket Arts Festival chairman, said he was pleased with the afternoon turn-out and the amount of money that had been generated through T-shirt sales and donations that go toward producing next year’s festival. He also noted that the crowds tend to grow bigger at night as a younger audience gathers. “Rocktucket has an energy all its own,” he stated.
Matt Odabashian, a member of the reggae-style band Natural Element, said his band has performed at all types of outdoor music festivals throughout Rhode Island and finds “this is one of the good ones. It has a nice, home-knit feel to it.”
Odabashian’s girlfriend, Casey, agreed, saying that she rode her bike to Rocktucket from her home in Providence. “I think it’s very nice to have something like this here,” she stated.
John Sawyer, listening to some of the afternoon bands with his wife, Sally, and six-year-old daughter, Una, said he comes to Rocktucket every year. “We enjoy it. And I’ve been trying to pull people down here. I’ve been putting it on Facebook all week,” he said.
City Council President Dave Moran admitted he is not a Rocktucket “regular” but said he and his wife, Lynn, along with some friends, had decided to come down and check it out. “It’s just nice being outside on a day like this,” he said.
Bruce Klucznik, a Pawtucket native now living in Cumberland, said “I had a ball last year,” so he returned with his wife, son, and mother.
Fran Klucznik, of Pawtucket, noted that the music was more to her son and grandson’s liking, but said she was still happy to be out and enjoying the sunshine.
Seated on a portable chair with his dog by his side, Pawtucket resident Tom Fleming said this was his first trip to Rocktucket and he considered it “fantastic.” He added, “I feel bad for the people who aren’t here, because they’re missing out on some good bands.”
For younger folks like Jaylene Badillo, 10; Jordan Badillo, 9; and Jared Badillo, 7, Rocktucket was more about ice cream, snow cones and toy vendors. However, the trio, along with cousin Sean Duran, 7, joined in the break dancing lessons that were being given by Jose Facce Maldonado of Project 401 on the top level of the municipal parking garage. “First, I was shy, but then I stepped up,” said Jordan Badillo, after perfecting some dance moves.
DJ Bryant Moscote of WRIU’s “Music Please” program would be taking the Rocktucket main stage later that night, but in the afternoon, he supplied rooftop hip-hop as children danced and street artists from The Avenue Concept, a group that looks to build communities through urban arts, painted on a large pop-up wall.
Elvira Matthews and Ida Avujade, former Providence residents who moved to Pawtucket two years ago, had nothing but praise for Rocktucket and the entire Pawtucket Arts Festival schedule of events. “We went to the food festival last Friday. That was nice. We’ve been going to everything,” said Matthews. “Pawtucket is a beautiful place.”
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