Art, music, and fun in downtown Oxford
● By Steven Hoffman
A celebration of music and art in downtown Oxford is now just a few days away.
The second annual Connective Art & Music Festival begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 3, and there is a full day of fun planned. The festival features Blind Melon and family favorite Trout Fishing in America, as well as many other diverse acts that will be performing on three different stages in downtown Oxford. There will be interactive music and art activities, plus plenty of food trucks, craft beers, local wine, and more.
“We want people to hear a lot of different music and to see a lot of different kinds of art,” explained Mary Lou Baily, the Main Street Manager for Oxford Mainstreet, Inc. “There will be lots of interesting things to do at the festival.”
Baily said that the Gallery Row of artists has been expanded for the second festival, and there will be more than 40 local and regional artists showcasing their art. Attendees can also be on the lookout for artists demonstrating their skills like wood carving, macramé, chainsaw art, and more throughout the day.
Oxford shined during the first Connective Art & Music Festival in August of 2018. Thousands turned out for the event, and the immediate responses on social media suggested that everyone who attended the event had a great time.
“I think it’s an amazing event,” said Jamie Corbett, who was one of the artists who took part in the Clash of the Canvases competition at the first festival. “Oxford is a great community.”
Organizers have worked hard to make sure that the second festival is even better. They started making announcements about this year’s festival lineup several months ago. Blind Melon has been tapped to headline the main stage of the festival. Blind Melon is a multi-platinum recording artist best known for “Tones of Home,” “Change,” and their smash hit, “No Rain.”
This year, the music lineup is expanded—it will run from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. There will be several main stage performers leading up to Blind Melon’s performance.
Another highlight will be the performance of four-time Grammy nominee Trout Fishing in America, which will welcome kids and kids-at-heart with an eclectic mix of folk and rock children's music.
Songs like “My Hair Had a Party Last Night,” “18 Wheels on a Big Rig” and “When I Was a Dinosaur” have earned them a place in the hearts of kids and parents everywhere.
Also performing will be Swift Technique, a Philadelphia-based band that blends funk, soul, rock and hip-hop. Rounding out the lineup is the National Reserve, a Brooklyn-based band that focuses on song-craft and showmanship.
There will once again be a Battle of the Bands competition where local groups can compete for cash prizes and the chance to be the first opener for the headliner on the main stage.
For the second year in a row, Lincoln University is providing significant support to the Connective Festival through the sponsorship of the World Stage. The World Stage will feature a lineup of five acts, with sounds ranging from Celtic to Caribbean. Eva Salina and Peter Stan are a duo of accordion and voice, traveling through the traditional songs of Balkan Roma communities. Their performances showcase stories, history, insight, humor, melancholy and friendship. Jah People moves crowds with their spirited sets that include improvisational interpretations of reggae classics, as well as newly crafted original music. This is an embodiment of Bob Marley’s melodic messages of love, spirituality and good vibes. Poor Man’s Gambit is a Bethlehem, Pa.-based trio that plays a fusion of traditional music of Ireland, France, and Scotland. PhillyBloco is modeled after the blocos of Brazil with their large percussion sections and harmonic/vocal accompaniment. The group is high energy, performing a raucous mash-up of samba, funk, reggae and New Orleans jazz.
On the Americana Stage, a number of talented artists will be featured. Colebrook Road is a five-piece ensemble from Harrisburg, and performs original bluegrass while staying deeply rooted in tradition.
David Wax Museum is exploring uncharted musical territory with its latest studio album.
Rylan Brooks is the mainstay at the Skinny Dennis honkytonk in Brooklyn, with a dose of good-natured humor. Originally from Havertown, the band splits their time between New York City and Nashville, Tenn.
Another performer on the Americana Stage will be Gooch and The Motion. The band delivers a unique blend of country, blues, and rock that’s straight out of South Jersey. Formed in 2016, the band began as a rotation of many talented musicians from the Philadelphia and New Jersey areas.
Singer-songwriter Morgan Pinkstone has been writing and performing original music across the Philadelphia area since 2009. As the primary songwriter and front-woman for the band Swedeland, she is influenced heavily by 1960s soul, classic rock, Americana and jazz. She released her debut solo album, Swimmer, in late 2016.
Baily explained that organizers set out to bring in an even more diverse group of musicians for the second Connective Festival, and they have heard some very positive feedback about the 2019 lineup.
“There is truly something for everybody,” Baily explained.
The art offerings are also being expanded. This year, the Gallery Row will house more than 30 visual artists, and an additional 10 artisans will be showcased in the World Market, a new addition to this year’s festival. Themed tents featuring demonstrations and activities for kids and adults, and a variety of interactive music and art opportunities will be available for guests to experience.
The Oxford Arts Alliance has a strong presence in Oxford, and they are always planning special events and activities to engage people of all ages. The work of the arts alliance has helped make Oxford a destination for people who enjoy art and music. The Connective Art & Music Festival benefits the Oxford Arts Alliance and Oxford Mainstreet, Inc., and the two organizations take an active role in planning the event.
Baily said that Chester County’s Brandywine Valley, the organization that promotes tourism for Chester County and the Brandywine Valley, designated August as Festival Month, in part because of the Connective Festival in Oxford.
Additionally, Philadelphia-based, member-supported radio station WXPN recognized the 2019 Connective Art & Music Festival as an official “XPN Welcomes” event, and is lending its support to the festival in its sophomore year.
The fun and excitement of the Connective Festival kicks off at the First Friday event on Aug. 2. The music, art, and fun takes place on Friday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Tickets are available through the festival website, www.connectivefestival.org.