Concert Festival Heartstrings Review

FESTIVAL REVIEW: Long Beach Folk-2-Funk Festival

By Andrew Kase

Long Beach’s fifth annual Folk-2-Funk Festival occurred Friday, March 27 through Sunday, March 29. That’s right folks, three full days of amazing sounds and talent. In collaboration with the Long Beach Public Library, the event is organized by Artists in Partnership, a non-profit arts organization established in 2000 and located in the heart of Long Beach. Their mission is to empower artists and to engage the community, and includes supporting literary, visual and performing artists by showcasing their talents, creating new avenues of expression, developing multi-generational and cross-cultural projects, providing fiscal sponsorships, and allying with local organizations, businesses and city government to attain these goals (www.aip-arts.org).

Johanna Mathieson-Ellmer, Director of Artists in Partnership and producer of the show, introduced the festival:

There’s a lot of talent now in Brooklyn, and we are bringing them here to showcase their talents,” Ellmer said. “We like to keep things around home here.

“Brooklyn is very hot right now and there is amazing talent there,” added Mathieson-Ellmer, referencing the many acts performing throughout the weekend. Friday included a performance from the Steve Adelson Trio, followed by a group called the Funky Folks.

The Steve Adelson Trio consists of the chapman stick player himself, along with David Langois and Bryan Carrot. During the trio’s melodic set, Carrot suffered a back spasm, but Halftime Howie Radio Show host, Howie Appel, was there to help him recover quickly, and return to the stage. When talking about determining which songs to play, Adelson said, “We don’t practice regularly so sometimes we don’t know what song we’re playing,” to which the crowd erupted in laughter.

The Funky Folks are comprised of singer Pamela Lewis, guitarist John Hurley, and Sean and Donna Gillen, of “Code Bleu,” and played a great set full of prominent covers, such as “Landslide” from the Dixie Chicks, and “Just the Way You Are” by Billy Joel. “They’ve dedicated their entire lives to being the very best at what they do, and it continues to be their passion,” said Mathieson-Ellmer.

Brooklyn native, Feral Foster, performed an impressive solo set on Saturday, and is a regular around local venues in Brooklyn. The Fred Thomas Band followed Foster and as they began to play, audience members around the room started to dance along to the sounds of the eclectic group. Their set included many songs from James Brown and Otis Redding, and old-school covers such as “Get On Up” and “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long to Stop Now.” The soulful crooning of the lead singer’s voice emanated throughout the room and their entire set, and had crowd members leaving their seats and dancing along to the oldies.

A standout from Sunday’s performances was country duo, The Kennedys. Husband and wife singing/songwriting duo, Maura and Pete Kennedy, performed a beautiful set on the festival’s final day. Their performance marked their 20th anniversary not only as a duo, but a married couple as well. The duo also dedicated a few of their original songs to one of their dear friends who passed away. “He had a very short career and dare I say he was better than Bill and I,” Maura said of her late friend.

Deservedly so, the Kennedys received a standing ovation following their time on the stage. The eclectic group M Shanghai subsequently took the stage, normally consisting of seven members, and performed mainly original Americana material.

Additional funding for the Folk-2-Funk Festival was provided by Nassau Country Legislator Denise Ford and Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg. The entire festival was free and the organizers requested that attendees donate non-perishable foods and personal care items as a token of their appreciation. Mathieson-Ellmer said only hopes everyone enjoyed the experience.

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