story & photo by Jon Persson
At this year’s New London’s 2012 I AM Fest, held on Saturday, September 8, a wide spectrum of the resulting artistry plays on four stages that stretch from Parade Plaza to the Hygienic Arts Park.
At the 2012 comeback, center stage has moved from the Custom House Pier to Parade Plaza, giving an added level of exposure to the cars and buses which pass through New London’s heart. Additional stages at the Hygienic Art Park, Oasis Pub, and Telegraph Recording Co., allows for more acts and more music than ever before.
Technology has delivered access to, and perfectible, capabilities in recording, production, distribution, and broadcasting that were once reserved for the top acts of record industry giants. And, it has created a new reality–music is a business that goes beyond performance. The performers are now promoters and managers and roadies, too.
This new age of techno-music mirrors the traveling troubadours and home-grown folk singers of pre-electric times. The new tradition is built on of artistry not destined for mass-consumption markets.
Adding to this “organic,” built from independent sources, sense are the vendors who have set up on Parade Plaza, the Hula-Hoop tent, organic coffee sellers, body-artists, handmade jewelry makers, and more. An audience bridging the generations — ’60’s survivors amongst the Gen X’ers and Millennium Babies — also parallels a past time. Amidst this modern Americana, the distinct English accent of the sound-check man adds a surreal British-invasion feel to the festivities.
I Am Fest began in 2006, founded by Sean Murray and Rich Martin. They were seeking to bring people, Indie music, and vendors together for a Saturday of fun in September. Despite having to take a hiatus in 2011 (due to the economy), I AM Fest is now Connecticut’s largest Indie music festival.
The music itself covers many genres from rap to rock, garage-band roots showing through in throaty lead vocals. There are social messages intermixed with surprising covers, the musical influences not always obvious in the prevalent original songs.
I Am Fest 2012 has made a good comeback ; next year promises to be an even bigger and better festival, now that the expanded version has been rolled out and tested.