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Festival(s) free-for-all

Rockin' the East Bay and PVD's West Side
By CHRIS CONTI  |  September 10, 2014

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POWER TRIO Coma Coma.

Two free festivals in one day — in this economy? Get ready for a jam-packed Saturday (the 13th), with all-day (and family-friendly) action from some of RI’s finest musical acts. Warren-based label 75orLess Records fills the Fusion Fest 2014 bill with a hometown throwdown, while the capital city’s West End gets ready to rock Narragansett Beer’s Neighbor Days Block Party. Both events kick off around noontime with absolutely no cover charge all day!

Take Route 114 to Burr’s Hill Park for the 6th Annual Fusion Fest. This is the fourth year Mark MacDougall has curated the musical lineup via his label (75orlessrecords.com). And Fusion Fest ’14 marks the first year at the new-and-improved location — “no more battling the wind and playing on clam shells” as they did at Blount’s Clam Shack, as MacDougall noted.

“We now have a large bandshell behind us and a giant stage.” he said. “Getting the sound right will be more of a challenge, but should be much better than previous years.” And the scenic view overlooks the town beach, so pull up a chair or blanket and rock out with a wide variety of 75orLess reps, ranging from roots-rock newcomers Foul Weather Friend to singer-songwriter icon Mark Cutler, slated to perform an acoustic set. Be sure to get there early for our old friend and Galvanize singer/guitarist Bill Keough, playing a solo set of material from his forthcoming 75orLess album, The Slow Get Up. SwampBirds features members of Cardboard Cannons and the Assembly of Light Choir. Warren’s favorite mail carrier Jeff Davies — aka Jeff the Postman, who released an album on 75orLess last year — will perform poetry throughout the day with musician friend Prescott Cronin (of Boston-based ’80s punk band Chain Link Fence) backing him on guitar. One of my all-time favorite Rhody rock bands, Coma Coma, will follow (around 2:30 pm); singer/bassist Eric Sampson, guitarist Steve Demers, and drummer Dan Ulmschneider surely will bust out more new tracks from the loooong-awaited follow-up to 2010’s Chateau Rex. The trio is also known for blistering, spot-on covers from indie greats like Pavement, Dinosaur Jr, and Sparklehorse. And buy a beer or three for Ulmschneider, who will pull off his first onstage triple-play behind the kit for the mighty Six Star General followed by his debut with Fusion Fest headliner Bob Kendall & the Crisis Celebration Band.

There will be food trucks (including the Blount Clam Shack Express) and an expanded beer garden serving BBC, Downeast Cider House, Foolproof, Two Roads, and more. Plenty of free parking and activities for the kids, too.

Proceeds will benefit Fusionworks Dance Company, Rhode Island’s only modern repertory troupe.

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