Friday, May 29, 2009

As Madonna said: music makes the people come together...yeah

So, as you're wandering around the Festival, munching on your funnel cake or your hot dog or your sno-cone, there are lots of things to see and do. But wherever you go, you're bound to hear music blaring from one of our five stages. Fun Fourth always has a varied roster of bands, from both near and far, and this year is no exception. We got what felt like millions of suggestions and submissions (surely it was only somewhere in the thousands) this year. Below is just a preview of what you'll see and hear.

Tropic Culture, based out of Charlotte, has a sound blending pop, reggae and Latin rhythms that will definitely get you moving (I'm not kidding: I'm sitting here bouncing in my chair). They'll be on Stage 3 at 4:45pm on the 4th.

Big Bang Boom is a locally-grown band performing "kids music that rocks!" and they've become a staple of Fun Fourth. Be sure to catch them at Stage 2 from 11:30am to 12:30pm.

Coming to us from Charlotte, The New Familiars blend acoustic, folk and rock into an entertaining mix. Having seen this band do a rocking, bluegrass-tinged cover of The Who's "Baba O'Reilly" (one of my all-time favorite songs) I am eager to catch their set at the Beer Garden stage from 3:30-4:30.

I first saw The Urban Sophisticates last April when they played at Hamburger Square as part of the Greensboro Bicentennial's Heritage Festival, and I thought they were fantastic. And right now I love the internet, because I found a video clip of that performance. Be sure to make it over to Stage 3 when they play, from 2:45 to 4:15.

Peggy has already shared a little about her experiences as a member of Jamestown Pipes & Drums. They'll be performing in the parade and then at Center City Park at 11am on the 4th.

I wish I could post videos for all of the performers who are going to be at Fun Fourth this year, but that would make for one very unwieldy blog post. Instead, I'll direct you to the Fun Fourth website, which has a roster of who's performing where and when. There are links to each band's website, and we hope you'll take some time to listen to some of their songs.

Also! Be sure to join us for our Flag Day Fun fundraiser on June 14th, from 4-7pm at Hamburger Square. Admission is $5, and we'll have live music from Warren Bodle & Allen and Holy Ghost Tent Revival. Here's a clip of HGTR performing at the Heritage Festival last year.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Meet our staff: Carissa and Owen

Every summer as we work on producing the Fun Fourth Festival and other events in downtown Greensboro we have assistance from a couple of college students. The interns work hands on, helping us implement the logisitics and management plan for the Festival.

What does that really mean? Well, yes there is some grunt work -- hauling tables, stapling tablecloths, labeling bulk mailings, putting up posters. But, there is also some creative work -- developing crafts for kids for Flag Day Fun! (cool ways to make flags or perhaps a scavenger hunt) putting together prize packets for the Kid's 1/2K and Tot Trot, coming up with contests for the new Contest Zone (how fast can you write down all states names, how big of a bubble can you blow with bubblegum?), etc.

This year's interns are Owen Hickle-Edwards and Carissa Pinckney. Carissa is a sophmore at NYU and Owen a junior at UNC-Wilmington -- both of them are actors in their respective theatre departments. Who knows, while this summer you may see them along Elm Street putting up posters or at the Fun Fourth Festival running Contest Zone, in a couple of years, you may see them on Broadway or at your favorite regional theatre.

Take a moment to stop and chat with Carissa and Owen; you'll be glad that you did, as they'll bring a smile to your day.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sponsor Spotlight: SunTrust

"Live Solid, Bank Solid" is more than a slogan - it's a way of doing business. SunTrust Bank's mission to help people and institutions prosper is clearly expressed by the support they provide to the communities they serve. Through lending, investing, and services, SunTrust continues to adhere to the principle "Build your community and you will build your bank."

This year SunTrust Bank is a proud sponsor of the Fun Fourth Festival Freedom Run 10K and the 2-Mile Red, White & Blue Fun Run and Walk! The Freedom Run and Walk will be held on Saturady, June 27th at 8AM -- 800+ runners/walkers/joggers and strollers are expected to participate!

New this year is a costume contest as part of the 2-Mile Red, White & Blue Fun Run and Walk -- come dressed in your Red, White and Blue and win a prize...awards will be given for Most Patriotic, Most Creative and Judges Choice!!

As we have done for the past three years, this year’s run is in honor of our dedicated military personnel and veterans. On the day of the event we will have a letter writing station for those wishing to support our troops with a note of care and concern and other patriotic activities. For participants who run/walk in honor or memoy of a service member or veteran, we will have yellow ribbons available. Each ribbon can list the name and service unit of the military person.

For more information or a Race application click here or register online!

Come on, you know you want to join the Fun!!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Tunes @ Noon

Boothbay Harbor, Maine -- 890 Miles;

Bahama Islands -- 1024 Miles;

Stuart, Florida -- 694 Miles;

Atlanta, Georgia -- 332 Miles;

Gaffney, South Carolina -- 141 Miles;

Greensboro, North Carolina -- Home!

Kris Ferris has lived in all of these cities, as a child, teen and adult -- today he calls Greensboro, NC home. As he traveled the backroads and highways there was always music as a solo performer, in bands, and as a songwriter -- Kris was there playing the guitar and singing.

On Wednesday, May 20th you will only have to come to Center City Park to hear Kris perform as part of the Tunes @ Noon series. Playing original songs and covers of the songs you love to sing along with! Bring your lunch, bring a friend and imagine yourself on that Bahama Island or in Gaffney, South Carolina or wherever you call home and enjoy the music.
See you there!

An ode to carnival food

As you may have noticed, if you scroll down the page a little ways, there is a poll asking what you like about Fun Fourth. If you haven't seen it, you should take a look. Vote if you feel like it. I'll wait.

Ok? Anyhoo. It's a good poll, but I do have a small quibble with it. My absolute favorite part of Fun Fourth is not an option. The thing that I like the most about Fun Fourth is the food. Ever since I was a kid, I've associated street festivals and carnivals and the like with food, because there are certain things that you just can't get at home. The cotton candy, the sno-cones, the roasted corn, the hot dogs, but more than anything else, the funnel cakes.

I love funnel cakes. I wish I could explain why. After all, it's just fried dough and powdered sugar. Some people like to put other toppings on theirs, but I don't need any extra frills (although I did just see a picture of a funnel cake with powdered sugar and M&Ms, which is genius). But look at it.

It's perfect in its simplicity. It's also messy and bad for you, and that is precisely why it's so wonderful.

Several years ago, long before I started working for Grassroots, I was rehearsing for a local community theatre production, and we were in the middle of tech week at the Carolina Theatre during Fun Fourth. At that time, the Festival map was different, and there were rides and booths and food vendors right next door to the theatre. Now, for the first number of the show, I had to wear a short, Pepto-Bismol pink wig (this is important to the story). At one point in the dressing room, one of my fellow cast members mentioned that there was a funnel cake vendor just outside. Naturally, I was very happy about this. I wanted to go get one, but I already had my wig on, and I was a teenager and still cared what strangers thought of me, and so I asked my friend if she would get me a funnel cake if I gave her money. She made me a counter offer: that she would buy me a funnel cake if I would go with her to get it, while wearing my wig.

I hesitated for about two seconds. Some people stared, and little children pointed at me, but I didn't care. I got a free funnel cake, and it was good.

At some point this year on the day of the Festival, you may see me striding through the streets with a sense of purpose, a grin of anticipatory glee on my face, and you'll know why. There's a lot to enjoy at Fun Fourth: the parade, the bands, the crafts, and of course, the wide variety of food. I hope you get a chance to see, hear, and taste it all.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Featured Band: Warren Bodle & Allen

What happens when you take an attorney, an advertising creative director and a psychologist -- mix in a mandolin, harmonica, banjo, dobro and a couple of guitars, then add in tight harmonies and clean picking? You end up with the bluegrass, contemporary-folk-rock and country-rock trio of Warren Bodle & Allen.

For over 20 years, they have been making music together, playing clubs, restaurants, concerts, parties and festivals throughout North Carolina, Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia.

If you haven't had a chance to enjoy them yet, you can click here or better yet come see them at an event!

On Sunday, June 14th, you will be able to enjoy their dynamic good-feeling music when they play for Flag Day Fun! A Fun Fourth Fundraiser. Come sit under the shade trees at Hamburger Square Park (corner of Elm & McGee in Downtown Greensboro), drink a beer provided by Natty Greene's Brewing Company and listen to Warren Bodle & Allen and Holy Ghost Tent Revival! A good time for a good cause!

See you there!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Sponsor Spotlight: GMA

Who else but the GMA can provide you and your business with: Free Workplace Workshops, Free Business Support Seminars, Member to Member discounts and special offers, Tax Deductible Membership and Advertising Discounts!

Your membership dollars are then put to work for the health and prosperity of the community supporting many programs including National Peace Officers Week, Women's ACC, Arts in Business Award and the Festival of Lights!!

For more than a decade the Greensboro Merchant's Association has been a proud sponsor of the Fun Fourth Festival Independence Day Parade! Because of their sponsorship, community groups of all kinds -- cheer teams, veterans groups, service clubs, girl and boy scout troops are all able to participate in the parade without paying any entrance fee!

The Independence Day Parade starts at the corner of Lindsay and Greene @ 9:30am on July 4th -- it will travel south on Greene, East on Market and North on Church disbanding near the Greensboro Children's Museum.

If you are interested in participating in the 2009 Fun Fourth Independence Day Parade download the application and send it in!! Perhaps you will win the award for most patriotic entry!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

End of the World

In case you've not experienced this for yourself, let me share with you an irrefutable fact -- some of the most pivotal moments of life begin as what seems like a coincidence. Ancillary conclusion -- there are no coincidences.

Case in point, End of the World Records. Bear with me, as it may take awhile to get to the point part of this case, and how it relates to Grassroots Productions. The first thing you need to know is that I am a huge fan of bagpipe music. (I told you this might be a long road.) While other girls were swooning over David Cassidy, my heart belonged to the Band of the Black Watch -- my dearest wish was to see them perform live. (Yes, I got to go see them in high school. No, I never got beaten up.) The reason this is important is that it was my love for bagpipe music that took me to the High Point Theatre almost 5 years ago to see the first concert by Jamestown Pipes & Drums. As a part of the concert, the band had invited the wife of one of their pipers to perform.
Her name was Andrea Reese, and when she began to sing her first song -- one of several original compositions she played that night -- my mind lit up like a lightning storm on a late August night. Despite the fact that the sound technician couldn't find his way around a sound board for anything, my world was transformed. I knew I was privileged to be hearing an amazing talent.

So the second thing you need to know about me is that I was trained to be a stage manager so when I go to the after party, I am compelled to shoot my mouth off about how much better the concert could have been if this, that and the other thing had been done differently. Ah yes, I'm sure you can see what's coming -- by the end of the night, I had pretty much agreed to stage manage the second concert (in fact, I stage managed two more concerts, joined the band and learned to play a tenor drum before it was all through, but that really is another story).

In addition to being so bedazzled by bagpipes that I practically signed my life away to a band, I also managed to gush all over Andrea Reese in a very teenage, star struck fashion. The result of that was a phone call from Andi a couple of months later, asking if I wanted to drive to Lenoir with her, where she had a date at a recording studio to lay down some tracks for her CD. Well, gosh, what almost 50 year old, crazed fan, singer wannabe wouldn't want to do that? Andi was livin' the dream, and I was gonna tag along as far as I could!

So who knew that tucked away in Lenoir, NC is Epiphonic Studios, an amazing recording studio in a renovated Catholic Church, complete with stained glass windows? Founded by Nate Pritchard (who has worked on albums for the likes of Martina McBride, Allison Krause and Dave Matthews), Epiphonic is an artist's dream come true. After a day in the studio with Andi, I was more smitten than ever -- with her music, with recording studios and all that wonderfully geeky equipment (so many buttons, so little time), and with the entire music industry as a whole. As much as I would have given my right leg to have even a fraction of Andi's talent, the truth is, I was chosen to clap and cheer.

You never know when inconsequential events in your life will prove to be turning points. So here we are, four years later. Over the years, Andi and Nate have both become good friends of mine. I have been lucky enough to get to watch, not only the evolution of Andi's first CD, Rain, etc., which will be released on May 26th, but the birth of Nate's new NC record label, End of the World Records -- every bit of which, from the artists to the labels that go on the CDs, has roots in North Carolina. Their desire to bring their passions to life has inspired me in ways I could not have foreseen. And it has been my pleasure and my joy to be chosen to clap and cheer all along the way.

Now -- what in the world does this have to do with Grassroots Productions, you're still asking? Well, I have had so much fun clapping and cheering, I want to share the fun with the rest of the world. On May 31st 2-5pm at Center City Park, you, too, can clap and cheer for Andrea Reese as she performs at our very first Sunday in the Park of 2009, along with another little group you may have heard of -- Polecat Creek.

Did I make my point about there being no coincidences? Perhaps it will all be clearer when I see you at Center City Park on May 31st. Hey, who knows, maybe later I'll let you listen to my bagpipe music collection.

Grassroots Bubble Blog of Wonderment

In an attempt to find a cheap, fun, exciting and cheap activity for children (or adults if you're having one of those nostalgic days) to do at our Flag Day Fun event, we came across bubbles. Bubbles, as I have now discovered through various informative online encyclopedias, are vessels created by Renaissance philosophers (also known as "wizards") to trap and deport moon men from the violently peaceful planet of Zoloft Antidepressant. Not to mention they're really, really fun to play with. So, why not get a bunch of bubbles and let the children (or adult-children) have their fun.

I was given the task of finding out which would be cheaper, buying factory made bubble formula or making our own. This would require an experiment.

Step 1: Get a formula to make bubbles
Step 2: Get the ingredients
Step 3: Put the ingredients together
Step 4: Eat that turkey sandwich sitting in the fridge that you've been thinking so much about for the last three hours that you finally started hallucinating that it was literally calling your name
Step 5: Test our bubbles against factory bubbles

After searching several shopping websites for the cheapest price on factory made bubbles, I found that the best price would be about $8.50 for 100 oz. of Mr. Bubbles blowing bubbles. There are probably cheaper prices in actual stores (considering $3.50 of the above price was shipping) but time was of the essence, and I didn't have much gas.

Now to look for a formula to make, and as a side note, the Internet is a marvelous thing. Not only did I discover a good bubble formula, but I found out that the seemingly extinct art of the bubble clown was still in practice. The bubble clown, Casey Carle as he likes to be called, had a website with a formula on it. Of course it wasn't his personal formula, but he gave good reasons why this formula should work anyway. After a long journey around a downtown shopping center, I was able to acquire the ingredients, a bucket to make it in, and some factory made bubbles, all for a little less than ten bucks. For those of you at home that are following along, and didn't use the hyperlink in Casey's name, the ingredients are: distilled water, glycerin, and Dawn dish washing soap.

Half-Time Score:
Factory Made: Approximately $8.50
Homemade: (Minus the cost of the bucket and factory made) Approximately $8

Following the instructions of Casey "Bubble Clown" Carle, I threw all of the ingredients into my bucket and stirred for a little while. Our final product was the picture to the left. In comparing the texture of our strange concoction to that of the factory made bubbles, ours was a little watery. It also seemed that the Dawn was sinking to the bottom of the bucket.

In order to compare our Frankenstein-esque concoction to the factory made stuff, we first had to actually use the factory stuff, to see what it looked like. The picture to the left shows a nice steady stream of bubbles. The only bad thing about these bubbles, is that they pop very easily.

Next we tried ours. Each and every time we tried it, we only got one or two bubbles, not even an 8th of what we got from the factory made stuff. The strange thing about our stuff though, is that they were super strong. They still popped, but they needed a pretty good poke to do so. We started to wonder what we could do to make our bubbles multiply. In a comparison between mixtures, we noticed that our bubble solution was not as goopy as the factory stuff. "How can we make it more goopy?" we asked ourselves. So I poured a little bit of our solution into its own cup and added more soap. This worked a little, but all it really did was increase our one bubble to four.

In a last resort to try and save our concoction, Brenda pulled out a giant bubble wand and dipped it in. The result was a huge bubble that, since it was made using our super strong bubble mix, wouldn't pop very easily.

Our experiment complete, we decided that it would be more fun to buy a bunch of factory bubbles, but keep our mixture so that we could use it for bigger bubbles.

Come join us for Flag Day Fun (with bubbles), Sunday June 14th, on the corner of South Elm and McGee streets in Greensboro.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Tunes @ Noon

Wednesday, May 13th (11:45 - 1:15) come on down to Center City Park for Tunes @ Noon to enjoy the music of Jason Marc Pierce.

Jason has been entertaining audiences along the east coast with his singing and songwriting since 1989. His influences range from classic rock to Celtic folk songs and his music reflects a wide range of styles.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Featured Band -- Holy Ghost Tent Revival

"Just walking down the street,
walking down the street

Looking at my feet,
looking at my feet I don't know,
know where to go"
-- Walking Down the Street

With compelling lyrics and energetic music Holy Ghost Tent Revival brings the party to life!

Join HGTR at the Flag Day Fun! -- A Fun Fourth Festival Fundraisier on June 14 from 4 - 7pm! Hamburger Square (next to Natty Greene's at the corner of S. Elm and Lee in Downtown Greensboro). Tickets $5 -- all proceeds benefit the Fun Fourth Festival!


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Sponsor Spotlight -- Natty Greene's

A great big thank you to Natty Greene's Brewing Company for their sponsorship of the Fun Fourth Festival! We always enjoy working with the team at Natty's and appreciate all of the support that they give us for the Fun Fourth Festival and other events in Greensboro!

Here's a great "behind the scenes" look at the brewing and bottling plant on West Lee Street.

Stop by Natty Greene's Pub at the corner of S.Elm and McGee Streets in downtown Greensboro (345 S. Elm) and enjoy some Buckshot Amber Ale or Old Town Brown Ale or one of their many seasonal beers!

Once again, thanks to Chris Lester and Kayne Fisher for all of their support!


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Flag Day Party

We're having a Fundraising Party!
Save Flag Day, Sunday, June 14th from 4pm - 7pm to celebrate with the Fun Fourth Festival. Come on down to Hamburger Square Park -- beside Natty Greene's and listen to some great bands, raise some funds for the Fun Fourth Festival and celebrate flag day!!!
More info on bands to come soon!!

History of the American Flag.
For more than 200 years, the American flag has been the symbol of our nation's strength and unity. It's been a source of pride and inspiration for millions of citizens. And the American Flag has been a prominent icon in our national history. Here are the highlights of its unique past....more.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Dia de los Ninos

There was some great music at Dia de los Ninos on Saturday, May 2nd at Center City Park. Here is a clip of West End Mambo and of author Pat Mora.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Facebook Page

Become a Fan of Grassroots Productions on Facebook. Check out the posted photos from Earth Day and Dia de los Ninos -- both events held at Center City Park. This photo is of Patches the Llama taking stock of the colorful Llama Pinata created by ArtQuest and lots of kids!!

Downtown Greensboro

There are some great sites and buildings in downtown Greensboro. I found this video online and thought you might enjoy it! Come on down and enjoy all that Greensboro has to offer.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Center City Poetry Experience

Stop by Center City Park -- Friday, May 1 from 6pm - 8pm to take part in the Center City Poetry Experience. Join Josephus II for a free live performance and an open mic.