The I AM Festival is returning to New London on Saturday with a new set of venues and a goal of bringing visitors into downtown businesses.
The free music festival is moving from its traditional venue of to four stages in the Bank Street area. Bands will play from noon to 11 p.m. at , , , and .
Organizers Rich Martin and Sean Murray both said they considered Waterfront Park to be a good location, but that it was too isolated from the downtown area. Murray said he hopes the change will lead more visitors to see the restaurants and shops in downtown.
“I love the pier, but it feels like kind of a deserted island. And only the people who know will go there,” he said.
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The I AM Festival, which began in 2006, is returning after taking a . Fundraising for the free event is done through the , grants, and some sponsoring businesses. Martin said the recession contributed to difficulties in raising enough money for a successful festival in 2011.
“We’ve always had to operate on a nickel and dime,” said Martin.
Performers include both local and national acts, and the festival has booked some bands shortly before they become popular. Martin said these have included Matt and Kim, Girl Talk, and Jay Reatard. Murray said he tries to gauge which bands are going to hit it big, but that sometimes it comes down to a matter of good fortune.
“I think I had a stroke of luck the first year because I had Girl Talk and he wasn’t known by anyone,” he said.
Martin and Murray both came up with the idea to hold a downtown music festival and joined forces once they learned they had a common goal. Martin said he got to know local bands when he was growing up through day-long concerts at City Pier sponsored by WCNI and wanted to bring back a similar event.
“We had this beautiful Waterfront Park and we wanted to utilize it, and we also wanted to highlight our amazing music scene here,” he said.
Murray brainstormed ideas about a festival with musician Sean Spellman of Quiet Life. They came up with the name after Spellman said the event would aim to be an “independent arts and music festival” and Murray suggested the acronym. Murray teamed up with Martin after he began making inquiries about setting up the festival and was told by Barbara Neff that Martin had a similar idea.
Murray said he and Martin found a good division of labor around the third festival. Martin focuses on raising funds for the event while Murray does booking, promotion, and design work.
Martin said he has worked with New London’s colleges to promote the event and bring students downtown to see the bands. He said he considers the event a good introduction to the city.
“We’re really excited,” he said. “I think we’ve got a great lineup. We’ve got some really strong up and coming bands as well as some of our best local bands.”
The schedule of performers is:
CT.com Stage at Parade Plaza
- Frank Lo & The Fly Ones present The Nu Lo Order, 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.
- Sidewalk Dave, 2:30 p.m. to 3:15 p.m.The Hempsteadys, 4 p.m. to 4:45 p.m.
- Sean Bones, 5:30 p.m. to 6:15 p.m.
- Bearstronaut, 7 p.m. to 7:45 p.m.
- Dom, 8:30 p.m. to 9:15 p.m.
- Hospitality, 10 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Hygienic Art Park
- Modern Merchant, 3:15 p.m. to 4 p.m.
- Math The Band, 4:45 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
- Shake The Baron, 6:15 p.m. to 7 p.m.
- Suicide Dolls, 7:45 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
- Bear Hands, 9:15 p.m. to 10 p.m.
- Ferocious F***ing Teeth, 6:15 p.m. to 7 p.m.
- Fake Babies, 7:45 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
- Graverobbers, 11 p.m. to 11:45 p.m.
- MT Bearington, 12 a.m. to 1 a.m.
- Haunt the House, 1 p.m.
- The Sea The Sea, 2 p.m.
- Sister Mary, 3 p.m.
- Sam Perduta (Elison Jackson), 4 p.m.
- TBA, 5 p.m.
- Street People, 6 p.m.