The flier advertising the first Freedom Fest, back in January, said it started at the Utah Arts Alliance digs at 6 p.m. I arrived at 7 to find about 100 people in the parking lot watching fire spinners, dancing to a DJ, eating and shopping for local art. There was already a line out the door and about another 100 peeps inside watching Utah band Robin Mary. Approximately 1,500 patrons were counted by midnight when it finished, drawn by a low-key advertising campaign of fliers, word of mouth and Facebook posts.
The Freedom Fest was created by Salt Lake City musician Lauren Begent and Houston spoken-word artist Seth Walker (pictured above) as a new way to combine art and activism. They met when Walker toured through Utah in 2009, and their like-minded approach led them to tour the country together shortly thereafter.
“We’ve worked on various volunteer/community projects and have been blessed to be able to share our unique music and poetry with as many people as possible,” Begent says of her and Walker’s relationship. “We started brainstorming what we could do to positively affect a city in a lasting way. Salt Lake City was the first test. By creating a free show with local art, music, food, education, activists, understanding, and opportunities to volunteer and donate your time locally in your city and daily life, you truly gain freedom and begin to create change,” she says.
Walker says the first Freedom Fest was almost instantly successful.
“Starting the next day, people were spending their money at different places, spending their free time in new ways that were giving back to their community and looking at their own city in a new way,” Walker says.
The first Freedom Fest was so successful that they had to bring it outside for a second run at the newly renovated Gallivan Center. I’ll be emceeing one of the stages presenting Utah musicians like one of my faves, Fox Van Cleef from Ogden, the funk/metal sounds of Babble Rabbit, Urban Bleu, Lake Mary and many others. Admission will be free, so there really is no excuse for you not to go.
Among the other featured attractions are a poetry slam featuring Adam Love, Doni Faber, Skylar Church, Michael Dimitri and Jesse Parent, marionette performances by Gary Swanson, and kids’ activities.
SALT LAKE CITY FREEDOM FEST 2011
The Gallivan Center
239 S. Main
Saturday, June 18, noon
The monthly Early Portion focuses on UtahFM DJ Portia Early’s (UtahFM.org on Mondays, 3-6 p.m.) take on the local music scene via interviews, CD reviews and Portia’s personal reflections on what’s going down around town.