The Thing in the Spring is a one-of-a-kind music, arts and entertainment festival that takes place every year in Peterborough. Combining live performances, film screenings and art shows, it's an experience more likely found in a big city than in sleepy southern New Hampshire. Yet as May approaches, so too does the fourth annual installment of the multimedia extravaganza.
"We liked the idea of bringing folks here, rather than having to drive all the way to Boston or New York City to see a show," said Eric Gagne, who, as part of the arts collaborative The Glass Museum, founded the event 4 years ago. "We were really inspired by all of the shows Bill Graham put on in San Francisco and New York," Gagne said. "So we just kind of got into setting up shows as happenings, big events that deserved people's attention."
That certainly worked; Gagne said that every show at last year's Thing was at capacity. He used his network of music and arts contacts made during his time playing in the band Death To Tyrants to bring a variety of acts to Peterborough. He said that what sets the Thing in the Spring apart from other local festivals is the quality of the artists they can book.
"There has been a big surge in people buying locally and supporting local businesses, which I think is great," Gagne said. "Unfortunately some of these people extend the idea into the arts, which I do not think is great. Just because something is local does not make it good, and making people feel obligated to pay for or listen to something just because it's local is awful."
Quality, affordable and yes, local, art is available as part of the festival. *broke, the Affordable Arts Fair takes place during the weekend. *broke bills itself as a multidisciplinary arts event that presents at least 75 percent of its merchandise for under $50. The weekend features Empty Bowls, an event in which people purchase a handmade bowl and have it filled with soup, with proceeds going to hunger-related charities.
Previous Thing in the Spring acts include The Low Anthem, Happy Birthday, Birdsongs of the Mesozoic, Whales and Wolves, Redwing Blackbird and many more. This year's festival will feature such acts as Thurston Moore, J. Mascis (former Dinosaur Jr. frontman), Giraffes? Giraffes!, Cokeweed and more.
Out Like Lambs... will be performing in Putnam Park, and the audience can hang out with actual lambs courtesy of Sunnyfield Farm as they watch the show.
The photographs of pi will be displayed at Aesop's Tables throughout the weekend. Also, a film by Kevin Barker called Family Jams, a documentary of an early Devandra Banhart/Joanna Newsom tour, will be showing at the Peterborough Library.
This year's Thing will take over downtown Peterborough May 13-15. For more information, visit thethinginthespring.com.