Concert Review: The Greater New Bedford Summerfest


July 3, 2010
The Greater New Bedford Summerfest at New Bedford Whaling National Park in New Bedford, MA

Peter Mulvey displaying some guitar mastery on "Black Rabbit."

Summerfest is a great weekend-long event in which the historic district of this storied whaling town is turned into one big folk music and arts festival.  The breadth of folk music spans contemporary folk music and more traditional and international styles.  The festival draws some great headliners and  yet the tickets are only $15/day or $20/weekend.  Despite only my positive feelings for the festival this is only the second time I’ve attended and the last time was ten years ago.  I need to make this a more regular tradition.

I attended the festival with my mother, wife and toddler son and we all had a great time.  We attended the following three performances:

  • Peter Mulvey at the Custom House Stage – the singer/songwriter is one of our all-time favorites and his set included fine guitar work, inspired lyrics, and even impressive readings of letters he wrote for his nieces and nephews.
  • The Irish Session at the Busker Stage – a big change from the large Custom House tent, this “stage” was just a small tent set-up on a street corner for local musicians.  Peter got up to dance around a street sign and  a little girl his age joined him.  This was the highlight of the festival for me.
  • Rosin Up Your Bow: great fiddlers (Jeremy Kittel, Guy Fletcher, Doug Lamey, Jake Armerding, & Ruairidh MacMillan) at the Centre Street Stage –  This stage was set on a charming hillside and cobblestone street surrounded by historic buildings.  What a place to listen to traditional fiddle tunes and watch Peter run about.
Peter improvises to the jigs and reels of the Irish Session.

In addition to the music we enjoyed a pizza supper at Pizans New York Style Pizza and Peter climbed on whaling tools in a small park.  It’s a great event where we could all enjoy the music and feel safe with Peter running about in the streets.  As noted above I need to attend this festival again and also need to visit and explore historic New Bedford even when there’s not a festival going on.

New England maritime charm on Centre St.

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