Aug. 21, 2015 By Jackie Strawbridge
From bluegrass to Afro-Cuban beats to karaoke to a pie eating contest, the annual Astoria Music Now! festival will bring a diverse array of performances, entertainment and activities to Astoria Park next week.
Astoria Music Now! is presented by Astoria Music and Arts, a local arts nonprofit, and will take place on the Astoria Park Great Lawn Aug. 29 from noon to 9 p.m.
Justin Finley, Astoria Music and Arts President, said the idea of the event “is to create that big festival experience in our backyard.”
In the seven years it has been running, Astoria Music Now! has grown rapidly towards that goal, from a small handful of performers to an extensive lineup and more than 50 visual artists.
This year’s “New World Queens” theme represents a new focus on diversity and inclusivity in the festival’s music performances.
“We wanted to change the format that we had to do in the festival for previous years. We wanted less rock and roll as far as being the only genre,” Finley said. “[We wanted] a world music vibe, and also a global community.”
Performances will take place across two main stages as well as an “Acoustic Stage,” which is not strictly for acoustic acts but is geared towards unplugged acts as well as folk groups and other low-key performances.
Another stage will feature a wide range of acts, including everything from a puppet show, to the family-friendly DJs Little Club Heads, to a pie-eating contest with Astor Bake Shop.
At the “Art Island,” in the park’s bocce ball court, attendees will get a comprehensive look at the local arts scene, with more than 50 artists displaying their work together.
The result will be an “absolutely gorgeous” outdoor gallery, Finley said.
A slew of other businesses and organizations will be on site. Visitors can become performers at Karaoke Shout’s booth, watch a vintage clothing fashion show, or enjoy food from handful of vendors.
Finley guessed that about half of the musicians are Astoria-based. However, he said that most of the participating visual artists are local.
Tomorrow, Astoria Music and Arts will host a pre-festival warm up party at the Shillelagh Tavern, 47-22 30th Ave. A barbecue will start at 6 p.m. and performances kick off at 7 p.m.