From PVD Fest at the start of summer to Rhythm and Roots at the end, the list of can’t-miss summer festivals in Rhode Island could keep your calendar stacked for just about every weekend. This Sunday, head to Warren, one of great hidden gems just outside of PVD, for the 2nd Annual Warren Folks Festival, taking place on Sunday August 6th from 2-8pm.
The event features a stellar lineup with some of the area’s best musical acts as well as games, a kid’s area, comedy, food, drinks and more!! While entry is free, the festival serves as a fundraiser for the host organization, The Collaborative 028885, an all-volunteer arts group that supports, promotes and encourages creativity and inspiration. Donations will be accepted.
We caught up with Jeff Danielian, one of the event producers, to learn more about the Collaborative and what we can expect at the festival.
PVDlive: Hi Jeff! Thank you for taking the time to talk to us about The 2nd Annual Warren Folks Fest. You are an author, a teacher, and part of a non-profit arts collaborative. How did you get involved with this festival?
Danielian: The Folks Fest was born out of the early work of The Collaborative. When we opened in mid-March of 2016, we knew we wanted to have a big summer party to celebrate the town and the people of it. Dave Wescott, who owns 30 Cutler, was gracious enough to offer his property as the site for the festival. It just made sense to do something. We had all of our friends play, the weather was perfect, and it was a success.
The 2nd Annual Warren Folks Fest is the title of the festival. Every year. So this year it is the 2nd 2nd Annual.
PVDlive: So last year was the 1st 2nd Annual Folks Fest, got it. What did you learn in year one and have you added anything new this year?
Danielian: The biggest thing you realize is that there are a lot of pieces that need to come together in the end, and the importance of doing so. Thankfully, Uriah takes on the enormous task of organizing everyone. We all lend our talents in different ways during the preparation for the festival, but will all be setting up tables and chairs and running around throughout the day.
We spent the months after the first fest incubating ideas for this year’s event. We didn’t plan for vendors, we didn’t plan for rain, and we certainly didn’t plan for the amount of beer people drink. So, we’ve added more food to the menu, Eli’s Kitchen, Balasco’s, and Rogue Island will all be serving up. 7 brewers will be featuring their beer, and we have a larger vendor area. There’s a kids tent too.
We also breathed a bit and took the time to space everything out more. I think folks returning will notice a difference. In addition, it costs us a great deal to put the festival on. So, we hope that folks will drink up, support the artists, and possibly drop some change in the bucket. This event keeps us going for a bit. We probably wouldn’t be here if not for last year’s.
PVDlive: Can you tell us about The Collaborative, and how it is associated with the Folks Fest?
Danielian: There are four of us who are involved with The Collaborative. Uriah Donnelly’s our Executive Director and other board members include Adam Tracy and Todd Moen, artists in their own right and also dear friends.
The Collaborative is an all-volunteer, nonprofit arts organization that provides a space for local artists to exhibit and share their work, collaborate together, and be supported in their efforts. We also provide support for community projects and educational opportunities for youth.
PVDlive: Your answer leads me to my next question. There is a really strong arts community in Warren. From bands like Brown Bird, to great artists like William Schaff, authors like yourself, and the Fort Foreclosure house shows that take place. Why do you think such talent migrates to Warren?
Danielian: Great question! Will is a good friend and an inspiring person and artist. The ideas for the Collaborative started as conversations at The Fort. He’s been involved with us from the beginning. Sometimes I think it’s the setting, sometimes I think it’s the times. It’s a place rich in history, and mystery, and beauty. The more people come here, and visit here, the more decide to stay. I’ve seen it countless times over the years. It all comes down to a sense of community. Everyone has a song or a story or an image to share. Roots get laid down and they produce. There is always time for conversation. People make time for it. Art and culture thrive here.
PVDlive: How long have you been a Warren resident and what makes it such a special town?
Danielian: It’s going on nearly 20 years in town now, enough to know the ins and outs with traffic and streets, what shop was there once before, the best places to visit, but beyond that, Warren is ever-changing and evolving, around all of us. There is always someone new to meet, somewhere new to go. I oftentimes find it hard to describe to folks. Personally, I have always been drawn to the arts, and the arts seem to have a home in Warren.
PVDlive: This year’s lineup features great acts such as Ian Fitzgerald & Something Else, The Low Cards, and Six Star General. Are all acts Providence and Warren based and what was the selection process of booking the lineup?
Danielian: Its funny because I was just discussing this with someone else the other day. It is a “Folks” Fest and not a “Folk” festival. Perhaps could have been “Folk’s” too. Grammatically, they all work. It is a festival for the folks of Warren and beyond. When thinking of this year’s lineup, Ian, no stranger to Warren, immediately came to mind. We all love the new arrangement, including local MorganEve Swain (of The Huntress and Holder of Hands). Six Star General was next. It’s a rare opportunity to have those guys play in their hometown. Low Cards are returning, for the simple reason that they kick ass. Junior Beat will greet folks on the corner when they arrive and Jodie Treolar, another local, will start things off. Matty O’s Natural Vibes and Kris Hansen’s Viking Jesus will also be playing. Both bands are doing incredible things. We really wanted to have diversity in our acts this year and I think it will be something we’ll continue to do. There are even stand-up comics in between sets.
PVDlive: Aside from the Folks Fest, what other kind of events does The Collaborative put on in the community?
Danielian: We have artist openings, small intimate concerts, weekend pop-up shops, gallery nights, master classes, host the monthly poetry reading, Words at the Fort, down at Fort Foreclosure. We also support and spotlight local youth artists and put on other events, like our winter Afterlight party and yearly anniversary; which all help us stay afloat so that we can increase the exposure to art and nurture a thriving artist community.
PVDlive: How can someone get involved or support The Collaborative?
Danielian: Oh that’s easy, and highly encouraged, even if an hour or two is all that one can spare. Folks can go to the volunteer link and submit their names and Kathy Rodrigues, our volunteer coordinator, will get in touch.
PVDlive: When the festival is over, where should fans go after?
Danielian: Glad you asked. We have an after party over at Market St. Pub, a local favorite of ours, and also huge supporter. So, as soon as Ian and his merry bunch finish, Torn Shorts will start up over there. It’s just a short walk away, and will still be early enough for a Sunday. Josh Grabert, a good friend whose ties are strong at the Collaborative, will be heading home from a wedding and has the opportunity to reunite the original lineup of Torn Shorts for the eve. It’s going to be a kick-ass time.
PVDlive: Lastly, any insider tips for fans coming to Warren? Any favorite spots?
Danielian: Oh man, that is a tough choice when it comes to town. If a good ole bar is your flavor, and refuge is what you seek. Jack’s is top of my list. It has those busy loud times but there’s also room to take a seat. Food? I’d head to Bywater for some oysters or a delicious meal. Chomp, just down from the center of town, has great food. Grab a tea or coffee at the Coffee Depot, just across from the Collaborative. Dave Podsnap has got a great thing going over at The Galactic Theatre. Amaral’s or the Clam Shack for some greasy. Honestly, you’d feel welcome anywhere you walk into and have good time.
They all have bourbon, so that’s good enough for me.
PVDlive: Haha! Cheers! Thanks Jeff! PVDlive looks forward to getting out of the city for a great time at The 2nd Annual Warren Folks Festival this Sunday. Hope to see you there!!
Interview by Michael Panico
Edited by Sarah Goodrich