Folk for Thought

Local Brew Coffeehouse presents their 5th annual Fiddle N Folk Festival on Saturday September 12.


Local Brew Coffeehouse presents their 5th annual Fiddle N Folk Festival on Saturday, September 12 in good spirit and even better company. Larson Gunness, co-producer of Local Brew Coffeehouse’s Fiddle N Folk Festival, reflects on his connection to music and the inspiration behind this event: “A century ago, when lighting was poor and large-scale entertainment was rare, people would gather on front porches, in kitchens and garages throughout the country and someone would tell a story, someone else would tell a joke and then two or three would break out guitars and a fiddle and they’d make music late into the night,” Larson explains. “When the session eventually ended, they’d all head back to their homes, full with good food and good cheer. This is the vibe I hope we’re tapping into with the Local Brew Events.” 

The event will be held from 11am to 5pm at Haines Memorial State Park in Barrington and will feature a dozen bands, storyteller Len Cabral and poets Kara Provost and Lynnie Gobeille. In addition to music, vendors will sell arts and crafts and food trucks will help keep your energy up. The best part? Admittance is free to the public. 

Local Brew Coffeehouse began as a showcase for local musicians, storytellers and poets to perform. Several bands from the thriving folk scene of Rhode Island and southern Massachusetts became regulars. Shows were so successful that Local Brew wanted to channel the energy into an all-day festival. Though the nature of a festival is to increase the scale of everything, keeping the festival as locally driven as possible was key to co-producers Larson and Sydney Monstream-Quas. It’s their desire to maintain their intimate and community-driven atmosphere. 

“There are lots of fests nearby that attract bigger names, but we have so much amazing local talent that we really want to showcase that,” Sydney says. “Additionally, we hope to keep the fest free forever and recognize that we need to keep our expenses low.” Rhode Island State Council of the Arts has supplied them with grants, while local companies such as Wildflour Vegan Bakery have become sponsors. Donation buckets are passed around the audience to garner even more funding. “We are so grateful and honored to have such talented artists willing to support this event by playing and entertaining us year after year,” Sydney adds. 

Going into the fifth year, the festival is already continuing new, but surely longstanding, traditions. Sydney points out the Sunday Night Jammers that close out the festival as a highlight, where an audience that spans generations are led through dances. “The air is full of music and laughter and pure happiness; it is the perfect way to end a spectacular day,” Sydney says. “I also love looking out at the audience, recognizing many faces but also seeing so many new ones and feeling the positive vibe that emanates from the crowd. There is a strong sense of community with the multi-generations tapping their feet and enjoying the low key nature of the event, kids running around and dancing freely, dogs kicking back and lots of happy people.” 

The performing bands are Sydney’s own Bay Spring Folk, Mini-Magnolia, Cowboy and Lady, Barry Brown, Crockett’s Honeymoon, A Bluegrass Invitation Band, Golden Bantams, Bob Drouin and Friends, the aforementioned Sunday Night Jammers, Old Fiddlers Club of RI, Andy Grover and Liz Boehmke. The Local Brewers point out that this dozen is a sample size of a healthy scene. “I think the current folk [scene] is thriving,” Larson says. “There are many strong and established bands who’ve been around for years, such as Pendragon, the Gnomes, Atwater Donnely and Magnolia. There are also many new bands coming along to continue the important work and culture-building of these great artists.” 

In addition to the Fiddle N Folk Festival, Local Brew produces about five other shows every year. The next two will be held at Barrington’s Bay Springs Community Center on October 17, which will feature multiple bands, and on December 5, which is a performance by the Gnomes and Bay Spring Folk. 

Local Brew Coffeehouse’s 5th Fiddle N Folk Festival
Saturday, September 12 
Haines Park, Barrington