Photo provided by Wakefield Music Festival

The first Wakefield Music Festival will kick off summer on Saturday, May 27, with multiple bands and entertainers, costumed characters for the kids, barbecue with a Jamaican twist, local brews and the first RiverFire of the year.

If you’ve enjoyed Oktoberfest, which caps off summer, the intention of this festival is similar ­– to bring the community outdoors to enjoy the bike path, the Saugatucket River, downtown Wakefield merchants and a range of entertainment. The festival, from 2 to 10 p.m., will be held behind Phil’s Main Street Grill and at the outdoor stage and patio at the Contemporary Theater Company. The rain date is Sunday, May 28.

“Credit goes to the original downtown merchants who held block parties 20 years ago,” said Chris Simpson, executive director of the Contemporary Theater Company. “We’re honored to carry on the tradition to celebrate all the natural, cultural and historic beauty downtown Wakefield has to offer.”

Main Street will remain open during the event and artisans will be selling their wares along the river, and PHIL’s will serve barbecue, wine, South Kingstown-based Whalers and Shaidzon beers, and cocktails.

The headliner this year is The Talking Dreads, a premier reggae band from southern Connecticut that plays to sold-out crowds in much larger venues. The band, led by Tom Tom Club veteran Mystic Bowie, blends rhythms from his native Jamaica with Talking Heads songs, including hits “Psycho Killer” and “Burning Down the House.” Bowie sang with the Tom Tom Club – a Talking Heads side project – for 20 years and is a huge ‘get’ for a community festival, Simpson said.

The Talking Dreads will start at 8 p.m. to close the festival, but the action starts at 2 p.m. with Paw Patrol costumed characters, Project 401 hip-hop youth dancers, a BMX bike demonstration by Mythic Bike Works in Peace Dale, face-painting, Rhode Island Bucket Drummers and children’s music by Keith Munslow and Friends.

The festival is one of the biggest fundraisers of the year for the nonprofit Contemporary Theater Company, whose summer season includes plays inside the theater and on the performance patio, improv shows, afterglow concerts and youth summer camps.

YouTube video

Other highlights:

4 p.m. – James and the Giants, featuring James DeSalvo, a South Kingstown native and winner of Wakefield Idol season three. The hometown favorite singer/songwriter brings a unique interpretation to soul, country, rock, pop, reggae and hip hop.

6 p.m. ­­­ – Guess Method, Motif magazine’s best jam band of 2022, is returning to Wakefield by popular request after closing out Oktoberfest last year.

Contemporary Theater Stage

2 pm: Keith Munslow & Friends 

        Music for kids and families

4 pm: James and the Giants

6 pm: Guess Method

8 pm: Talking Dreads

Phil’s Stage

2 pm: Kaitlyn Tarro Band

3 pm: Gary Hopp

4 pm: Orange Whip

5 pm: Beer Tent Games

5:30 pm: Project 401 Dancers

6:30 pm: Air Guitar Competition

7 pm: Kids’ Dance Party with DJ

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