Release Yourself! New music festival time to ‘hug freely, dance freely’

BECCA MARTIN-BROWN
bmartin@nwadg.com


The pandemic has been hard on everybody in one way or another, but arguably no one more than performers.

Rochelle Bradshaw and Hypnotion will headline the Live Free Music and Arts Festival Oct. 23 at Prairie Street Live in Fayetteville. (Courtesy Photo)

“Not touring or performing around the country and world these past two summers is quite a change from my normal routine, and that hit hard,” says Rochelle Bradshaw, known around Northwest Arkansas for her “easy fusion of reggae and R&B” with her band Hypnotion. “They say you never know a good thing ‘til it’s gone, and it is so very true. Not being able to travel freely, hug freely, dance freely, all that taken away messed with me on a deep emotional level that really surprised me and left me in a state of depression — so I had to do something.”

That something is the inaugural Live Free Music and Arts Festival, scheduled for Oct. 23 at Prairie Street Live in Fayetteville. While Bradshaw and Hypnotion will headline the event, the day will also include all kinds of music, dance performances, art installations, crafters, vendors and speakers, says co-organizer Wendy Love Edge.

“When Rochelle came to me about producing this festival with her, I immediately understood the theme and knew it was a beautiful idea and needed,” she says. “Then we had to table it due to the pandemic. That was when I realized it was necessary.

“All of us have been stifled to some extent creatively in the past year and a half,” she explains. “As creatives we have continued on, even with the reduced human contact and the huge reduction in experiences that normally stimulate all forms of creativity. We’ve been challenged to dig deeper. This means we also need some kind of release too — and this festival will be perfect for that.”

The theme, “Release Yourself,” “could simply be just getting out of the house today,” says Bradshaw. But “it’s really a universal call to celebrate or just to acknowledge each other and our individual struggle.”

“We all want to be free,” Edge expands on the topic. “In fact, freedom to be oneself should be a basic human right. So it’s all of that — LGBTQ+ rights, women’s rights, cannabis rights, Black Lives Matter and more. This last couple of years, with the pressure cooker of fear and the unrest we have all been experiencing in our communities, many people in these minority groups have risen up. They are rising up for the freedom to live as themselves and have the same rights and privileges as their neighbors.

“In addition, we have been stuck more at home with our families,” she adds. “For some, that’s been a beautiful experience. For others, it has been a major challenge, often because the family doesn’t accept them as they are. And for those attendees to this festival, we say this: We want you to be yourself, in every way, when you enter the Live Free Music and Arts Festival. We invite you to ‘release yourself’ and feel the freedom!”

Also on the schedule for the day are performances by the Flip-Off Pirates — “a legend here,” Edge says; rocker Angela Edge, who “sings about freedom from trauma, bad relationships and other themes”; Nic Wit It, an 11-year-old “activist singing about unjust incarceration of parents, plant prisoners and more”; and “the talent of Rachel Ammons and her one woman show.”

“The art installations are the creation of Trisha Guting from Out of Hand Collective,” Edge adds. “As we discussed the experience we wanted for people, she created interactive designs for the event, as well as giant light up jellyfish. Jellyfish, a favorite animal of Ms. Bradshaw, are symbolic of flow, survival, instinct, movement and simplicity. They teach us that we don’t need to resist life and instead should let it guide us naturally. The Art Experience will also be at the event in the evening with their light-up jellyfish.”

Finally, she says, there will be a “pop-up wall” for people to create their own street art and an altar for “leave and take something,” a selfie area and more.

“The Live Free Festival was inspired by my own need for self expression on stage and off,” says Bradshaw. “Knowing that I was definitely not alone, I wanted to invite my community to a space of self awareness, self forgiveness, self acceptance and self love — a space that allows for us to voice to ourselves — and others if need be — whatever it is that’s dampened our light or blocking our path to growth, whether it be external societal issues or inner. On stage is where I truly feel released, so I can’t wait to perform!”

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Wendy Love Edge is the promoter behind the Live Free Music and Arts Festival. (Courtesy Photo)

FAQ

Live Free Music and Arts Festival

WHEN — 1-10 p.m. Oct. 23

WHERE — Prairie Street Live, 509 W. Prairie St. in Fayetteville

COST — $30-$45; children younger than 12 enter free

INFO — livefreemusicandartsfestival.com

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FYI

Live Free Music and Arts Festival

Lineup

2 p.m. — Green Acres Band

3 p.m. — Angela Edge

4 p.m. — Hip hop with Nic Wit It

7 p.m. — Rachel Ammons

8:15 p.m. — Rochelle Bradshaw & Hypnotion

9:30 p.m. — Flipoff Pirates

Also scheduled to appear — Queer Planet, Deanna Starshine, TerraNova Troupe & DJ Soulfree

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FYI

Artist Spotlight

Angela Edge

This is the first live show since 2020 for the Farmington musician.

Q. How did music become a passion for you? And when?

A. I have been creating music for most of my life. My musical journey started when my father put a bass in my hands at the age of 14. I instantly became enamored with this new four-stringed instrument. I taught myself to play on the stage of my father’s hometown Pentecostal church and learned by watching and listening to other bass players. It molded my concept of bass, melody and harmonic style. I had already started playing the trumpet when I was 12 and eventually got a scholarship to the UA in trumpet and music education. I can’t remember when music wasn’t a part of my life. My father recently passed away, and I will be forever grateful to him for putting that bass in my hands and opening my world musically. Despite our ideological differences, we could always connect with music.

Q. How would you describe what you do musically?

A. I have become a one-woman show. Before the pandemic, I would hire a percussionist to accompany me. But the pandemic solidified for me that I need to do it all myself. Thankfully, I taught myself guitar and piano as well. Using my voice, bass, guitar and trumpet, I can get close to the sound I want using a loop pedal. I am open perhaps to adding other musicians in the future, but this current setup suits my style and what I am trying to say musically.

Q. What has music meant to you during all the isolation of the pandemic?

A. Music has allowed me to continue to express myself and grow creatively through this challenging time. In times of sorrow, fear or worry, music is a solace for me.

Q. When you perform, what do you hope audiences experience?

A. I want them to experience the music to whatever extent they do and take from it what it means to them. This festival, in particular, is all about self-expression and personal freedom, and it’s about individual freedom, community, peace and a host of social issues that have limited people’s freedoms. So I put no limits on whatever people take from listening and watching me perform. From my end, I hope they walk away feeling entertained.

Q. What’s next for you after the Live Free Festival?

A. I hope to do more recording and production and perhaps more live shows. Since this is my first in a long time, I’ll have to see how I feel about it afterward. The short answer is, I’m not sure. But I do know that the world will continue to hear from Angela Edge creatively.

Categories: Cover Story