NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

PortWatch

June 26, 2014

A community celebration

Byfield festival to raise money for arts center

With at least 15 bands and dozens of artists, a new festival this weekend will celebrate the local creative community and raise money for additional events.

The Byfield Community Arts Center is hosting the inaugural Byfield Music and Arts Festival on Saturday at Manter Field.

Peabody native Ryan Montbleau will headline with his famous Americana style, according to Dave Hill of Newburyport’s Fusion Blue Productions.

Other musical acts include Sarah Blacker, who has performed at the Great Bay Music Festival in Dover, N.H.; Big Ol’ Dirty Bucket, described as “a funk band that meets hip-hop”; and Richard James and the Name Changers.

This weekend’s festival is a reinvigoration of the annual “Byfield Days” tradition. Feeling that Byfield Days was “getting stale,” the three members of the arts center decided this winter to replace it with a larger and more ambitious event, according to Heidi Fram, BCAC president and program coordinator.

“A friend of mine was talking with a third person last summer about, ‘We should have this outdoor music festival,’” Fram said. “Then we all met up and realized we had the same idea, and here we are. It’s an exciting move for us, it’s a bigger thing than we’ve done, but we’re anticipating that we’ll be doing this as an annual event.”

The high level of coordination required for the event was part of the draw for Hill, who volunteered a month of his time to book performers and accepted a contract for sound and lighting equipment needs through Fusion Blue. He hopes a successful day of festivities will raise enough money for the center to continue.

“The people with the arts center are great people, but they’ve never really done something like this,” Hill said. “I’ve been involved with a lot of festivals in the past, so I’m here to help them figure their way through this. ... I’m hoping that in the future I can stand off a little bit and everybody can have their own role.”

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