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Downtown: Granite State Music Festival back for a second year

The Granite State Music Festival is back for a second year.

On Saturday and Sunday, the festival will fill Kiwanis Riverfront Park with two days of live music and 24 bands.

Last year’s inaugural festival didn’t sell as many tickets as expected, but festival Director Scott Solsky said it still met the goals of bringing an exciting event to Concord and highlighting local music. He’s committed to making it an annual Concord event.

“We just felt that the community needed it,” Solsky said. “And the opportunity that it provided for musicians is also valuable.”

Local vendors will sell food all weekend, and the Concord Arts Market will relocate to the festival grounds from Bicentennial Square on Saturday. New this year: A beer garden and the option of buying a one-day ticket for either Saturday or Sunday.

“We learn something new every year,” Solsky said.

Of the 24 bands set to perform this weekend, 22 are from New Hampshire or regularly perform in the state. The Adam Ezra Group and the Ryan Montbleau Band are the regional headliners for Saturday and Sunday evenings, respectively.

Solsky said festival organizers sorted through hundreds of applications to choose this year’s bands. The festival doesn’t permit bands to perform cover songs, and they must have ties to New Hampshire.

“People say ‘it’s a local

band – they can’t be very good,’ but all the bands you listen to on the radio at one point were a local band,” he said.

Solsky plays in several local bands himself and works as a music teacher at the Shaker Road School. He’ll be focused on organizing the festival this weekend, but said he’ll sit in to play with a few bands and hopes to get a guitar lesson from one of the headline musicians.

The nonprofit festival is aiming to sell 800 tickets this year. Last year, they set out to sell 1,500. About 500 people attended, and the weekend included some rain and thunderstorms that canceled two performances.

The forecast for this weekend looks clear, and Solsky said he believes the tickets will sell out.

“This year, we’re ahead of where we were last year at this time,” he said.

When the festival launched last year, Solsky said “most people” questioned whether it could succeed. But “the reputation that Concord isn’t cool is more of a stigma than an actuality,” he said.

“I think people in general, when they see something new, are more inclined to say that can’t work as opposed to embracing it and saying let’s make this work,” he said. “Support is the key for this to continue to work. There are people who want to see Concord as a destination and a place that’s cool and doesn’t have the reputation of being a place that’s in a coma. (They) should support things like this, should go to them.”

The festival begins at noon Saturday and will continue until 10 p.m. On Sunday, music begins at 11 a.m. and continues until 9 p.m. Tickets are $40 for both days, or $20 for one day. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit

Midsummer magic

Another family event this weekend will include a different kind of music: A parade of kazoos.

Midsummer Night Magic is back for a second year Friday night, with a parade, live music and an outdoor movie. The event will begin with a “Creative Concord Caravan” parade at 5:45 p.m. in front of the State House, featuring a “kazoophony” and costumed dog parade, said event organizer Jessica Fogg.

At dusk, Red River Theatres will show Back to the Future in Eagle Square, with a 1980s-themed costume contest. In Bicentennial Square, True Brew Barista will host Tribal Zoe belly dancers, ArtsFest hula hoopers, beer tasting and live music.

All of the activities are free. The evening is sponsored by the Duprey companies, and the parade is organized by Lincoln Financial and the Creative Concord Committee of the Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce.

Where’s the name?

The name of Steve Duprey’s new building on South Main Street is gone.

But the building’s message, which the developer hasn’t yet revealed, will be back.

Writing on the building’s facade was concealed by a yellow tarp until last week. The facade is now blank, but Duprey told a group touring the new building last month that he’s simply moving its location.

“We’re going to take it off from where it is and put it down on the threshold,” he said.

The new building, on the former site of the New Hampshire Bindery, is scheduled to open this summer. It’s next door to what’s known as the Smile building – Duprey completed its construction in 2011 and unveiled a facade with the word “SMILE!”

Growing into Ballard’s

A local consignment shop is moving in next to Ballard’s Ice Cream in McKee Square.

Here We Grow Again, a consignment shop for women’s and children’s clothing, has been on Fort Eddy Road for the past three years, said owner Elizabeth Arlen.

“We were just looking for a location that would be more convenient for our customers and our consigners,” Arlen said.

So she found a space on Broadway, next to Norm and Doris Ballard’s ice cream shop. The Ballards have owned the building for decades, and Arlen is moving into the retail space that’s been vacant since they closed Ballard’s Novelty and Party Shop in 2010.

Arlen said she plans to move the weekend of July 4 and open by July 8.

Affordable art

There will be art for all budgets on sale at the Kimball Jenkins School of Art on Thursday.

The annual “Art for Everyone” sale will benefit Goodwill Industries of Northern New England.

“We have pieces for $5 and we have a few pieces for $150 to $200, with most art in the $20 to $75 range,” said Bob Parker, Goodwill’s special events coordinator, in a press release.

The sale will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday.

Focus on Facebook

Intown Concord is hosting a seminar on Facebook advertising for local business owners this week.

The free session will be held at 8 a.m. Wednesday in the Smile building on South Main Street, said Liza Poinier, Intown Concord’s operations manager. To sign up, contact Intown Concord.

(Laura McCrystal can be reached at 369-3312 or or on Twitter @lmccrystal.)

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