Rock On Fest is making a big-time move

Matt Bonner (left) as DJ Red Mamba and Luke Bonner took the stage during the DJ Red Mamba Family Fun Dance Party of Rock On Fest at White Park in Concord on Aug. 13, 2016. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz
Matt Bonner (left) as DJ Red Mamba and Luke Bonner took the stage during the DJ Red Mamba Family Fun Dance Party of Rock On Fest at White Park in Concord on Aug. 13, 2016. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz
Dirty Bangs performs during the 2016 Rock On Fest at White Park in Concord on Saturday, Aug. 13, 2016. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz
Dirty Bangs performs during the 2016 Rock On Fest at White Park in Concord on Saturday, Aug. 13, 2016. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz

Around these parts, events just seem to get bigger and better each year. Add Rock On Fest to the list.

If you’re not familiar, Rock On Fest was started by brothers Luke and Matt Bonner, and their Rock On Foundation, three years ago as a way to bring free musical acts to Concord.

The first two were held at White Park and were wildly successful. And this weekend, the third installment will take over Concord.

But before you jump in the family station wagon with your GPS set for the White Park, you should probably keep reading – that’s because the concert has made a big-time move.

This year, the State House lawn is the place to catch all the great musical acts, as well as the laundry list of other fun that comes with Rock On Fest. (Keep reading and you’ll see what we mean.)

With a brand new looking Main Street, and a real push to show it off, it only made sense for the event to move downtown.

“With the revitalized downtown, there’s a new energy in the area,” Luke said.

So after some discussions with the powers that be at the city, they were given the go aheadto make the move. Nothing against White Park, but who wouldn’t want to catch an outdoor concert in the heart of the state capital?

“The city is welcoming to the idea of events like this and the importance of having them,” Luke said.

The whole point of the event for the Bonners was to create an event that would be something special for both the city and the state. They grew up here and want more people to see just how great Concord can be.

“I think it’s going to be really cool to have a festival like this in front of the State House,” Luke said. “It broadens the appeal of the festival.”

And what better way than to give the people what they want – something free.

“We want it to be accessible to anyone and everyone,” Luke said.

While the festivities begin on Friday with basketball events and a movie night, the music doesn’t get going until Saturday.

The music kicks off at 1:30 p.m. with Mr. Aaron, which is something fun for the whole family. Mr. Aaron, who has quickly become one of Concord’s favorites on the kindie music scene, will get the kiddos up and dancing – and probably most of the parents too.

“He’s a great addition to the community. I take my son to his shows and classes,” Luke said. “And he’s a big draw.”

While the entire event is meant to be family friendly, the remaining four acts will be more along the lines of what the parents (and adults without children) will want to move and groove to.

Beginning at 3:30 p.m., there will be music for the rest of the day.

Tough Guy, led by local favorite Kate West, takes the stage first, and Photocomfort follows at 4:45 p.m.

Holly Miranda, who will be playing her third show in three days, will take the stage at 6 p.m. Headlining this year’s Rock On Fest will be none other than Laura Stevenson at 7:30 p.m. Stevenson will play shows in Indiana, Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey in the week prior to making her way to New Hampshire. Talk about some big time acts.

And if you aren’t too familiar with the first two bands on the set list, there’s a theme to this year’s collection of artists – all are female featured.

Since it’s free, you can come and go as you please, although you’d have a hard time getting us to go anywhere while live music is going on.

“If there’s something that doesn’t interest you, you can go and explore and come back,” Luke said.

But remember, this is much more than just music, and you can probably imagine how much goes into an event of this size.

“There’s definitely a lot of effort from a lot of folks that go into piecing something like this together,” Luke said.

There will be food vendors like Arnie’s Ice Cream, Dos Amigos, The Common Man, Puppy Love and Miss Polly’s Traveling Treats, and a few things for sale courtesy of Concord Handmade, The Mountain and Rock On Foundation.

On Saturday, Main Street will be closed from Centre Street and School Street, so plan accordingly.

For more, search Rock On Fest on Facebook.

Author: Tim Goodwin

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