As summer officially makes its way to the greater northeast, “frends” begin to prepare to return to Sugarbush, VT for the 2018 Frendly Gathering. The three-day grassroots celebration of music, friendship and conscious awareness begins June 28 and will feature a variety of music, activities and community efforts designed to be more than a typical music festival experience.
At the forefront of the Frendly Gathering is a thoughtful and diverse line-up of musicians and artists and includes several high-billed “must see” acts for the weekend. Vermont quartet Twiddle is a long time Frendly staple. While the band is only performing one set at this year’s event, Twiddle frontman Mihali Savoulidis and Nahko Bear of Nahko and Medicine for the People will be performing a special set together on the festival’s opening evening.
Bluegrass favorites Greensky Bluegrass also anchor the festival’s line-up and will be making their Frendly debut. Among the other event headliners, be sure to catch The Devil Makes Three, who will be bringing their blend of folk, blues, ragtime and rock to the weekend as well saxophonist and bandleader Kamasi Washington, whose highly emotional and highly praised twist to typical jazz incorporates elements of hip-hop, classical music and R&B. Additional weekend headliners include Nahko and Medicine for the People, electronica producer Emancipator and acoustic folk rocker Trevor Hall.
Music fans looking for tunes beyond the headliners will have plenty of great choices. This year’s line-up is packed with buzz worthy artists like area songwriter and soulful siren Kat Wright and New York-based Appalachian Soul seven-piece outfit Upstate Rubdown are two female fronted bands expected to exceed expectations.
With over 30 stellar musical acts to catch throughout the weekend on this year’s Frendly line-up, fans of all genres will be pleased with the weekend’s offerings. Jam fans won’t want to miss Arizona-based Spafford. Burlington native Rachel Grenier told NYS Music that the electrofunk quartet shouldn’t be overlooked. “I’m really digging Spafford’s refreshing sound,” she said. “These guys bring the heat.”
Be sure to check out Boston-based electrofunk five-piece Strange Machines and Houston’s award winning Gulf Coast Soul, and 8-piece ensemble The Suffers. Festival organizer and founder Luke Mitrani will also be showcasing his music stylings on the festival’s opening day.
Beyond the music, Frendly Gathering focuses on sustainability, earth-frendly initiatives and community. Through grassroots efforts, attendees are encouraged to take care of their surroundings from the moment they enter the gate. A carpooling contest, trash pick-up contests and initiatives, food drives and workshops are all designed to inspire attendees to reduce their carbon footprint during the weekend’s activities.
Tiffany Mac of Jay Peak, VT, who is attending her fourth Frendly Gathering, says it’s partially these non-musical efforts that make the festival so special. “The founders of Frendly Gathering stay true to their ‘no I in frends’ outlook,” she told NYS Music. “I also love how much they respect Mother Earth. They give a lot of attention to being kind to our world and help us to adopt ways to leave no trace.”
Community and lifestyle workshops will be offered on Friday and Saturday afternoons. Workshop topics include environment & local elections, Permaculture 101, Waste-Free Living and a Sustainability Panel to highlight businesses creating environmental and social change.
Frendly Gathering also offers a variety of diverse activities. While typical festival activities like hiking, yoga, vendors, craft and live arts are weekend staples, the event also offers a mini-half pipe for skateboarding. Festival organizers note those wishing to participate in skating should bring a helmet.
Another fourth year frend, Jack Caron of Winooski, VT notes that beyond music and activities it’s the “sense of community and kindness to one another” that makes the Frendly Gathering a truly unique experience. For first timers, he recommends new frends “be outgoing and smile as you walk by” to easily immerse themselves in the Frendly experience.
Mac gives similar advice to first timers. “Get ready for a lot of high fives, smiles and hugs. Bring a good reliable pair of shoes, and drink lots of h2o!”
Single day and weekend passes are still available here. Tickets for Thursday’s pre-party are separate from the weekend pass. Children under 13 are free when accompanied by an adult or guardian.