Folk Fest Hits Town

Whitney Kidder PhotoFour years ago, members of the folk band Red Molly had a problem: They were down a guitar player, and searching for the member who would make their group complete again.

Miles away in New Haven, guitarist Molly Venter was playing local spots, gracing hangouts like Cafe 9 with her winding, bluesy tunes. She fit right in with the group (pictured), soon becoming the missing piece that would give the band a “home base” in the Elm City.

“It’s been a kind of home away from home for us,” band member Abbie Gardner said in a recent interview with the Independent.

Now, at the end of summer, they have another chance to show their love for the city. This coming Saturday, the group will return as the headlining act for the 2014 Connecticut Folk Festival, taking place from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. in Edgerton Park. The free festival, now in its sixth year, will share its jam-packed lineup with the CT Green Expo, running from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

So what can New Haveners (and out-of-towners, for that matter) expect to see and hear?

A lot of different acts, each bringing a new sound to the crowd. On the event’s stage, lesser to well known folk bands – including locals like the Professors of Bluegrass and others – will offer a rotating schedule of music from the late morning into the night, with folk favorites Pesky J. Nixon (video below) and Red Molly closing out the evening.

The bands, Gardner said, are expecting to have a really folking good time. “We’re coming back with a brand new album, The Red Album, and we’re just excited to share that with everybody and play some of the new songs. It’s also a nice chance to see some of our other musician friends ... to get to hear a lot of the music as well.”

For her and musicians like Jake Bush of Pesky J. Nixon, with whom they’ve dueted, this year’s festival is about much more than headlining. It is about bringing the spirit of folk – that is, an open sense of community and storytelling – to a city in which the alternative music scene has been blown open in recent years, making new room for folk and Americana. 

Courtesy of Pesky J. Nixon“Connecticut was a place where we really hadn’t played [before]. We definitely feel like the scene has been taking off in the last few years in Connecticut in general, but in New Haven specifically. So we are feeling great ... thrilled to be playing this festival with a lot of friends ... to share the stage with Red Molly and folks like that is really a dream for us,” said Bush (pictured above with band members Ethan Scott Baird, Dan Carp and Eric McDonald) in a recent interview.

Already an old friend of his, Gardner agreed:

“It’s very different than a formal education. Music is something … you learn so much by just doing it. It becomes a community. And then this festival … It just brings people together.”

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