Annual stART festival opens eyes along Worcester’s Park Avenue

Annual stART festival opens eyes along Worcester’s Park Avenue

WORCESTER – There was art as far as the eye could see – wearable art, edible art, aromatic art, whimsical art, tinkling art, techno 3D-art, nourishing art, historical art and good old-fashioned art.And stART on the Street founder Tina Zlody declared the 2015 festival a success.

“We have good weather, good publicity, it’s our 10th year on Park Avenue so people know where to find us to shop, eat, enjoy the festivities. I’d say there will be 55,000 […]

Ralph’s on Monday nights is a melting pot of talent

Stevie Wilkes participates in the slam poetry competition at Ralph's. (Photo by Stephanie Brinks)

Stevie Wilkes participates in the slam poetry competition at Ralph's. (Photo by Stephanie Brink)

By Stephanie Brink

If you think there’s nothing to do on a Monday night in Worcester, you just haven’t been to Ralph’s.

Ralph’s Chadwick Square Diner Dirty Gerund Poetry Night on Mondays offers up some eclectic entertainment along with the venue’s usual drinks and delicious burgers. Placed in the ambience of a former fire station with red lighting, Ralph’s is the perfect space for an open mic night. The creative styles of the slam poets, singers and artists that perform there are able to engage their audience. The performers’ eccentricity only serves to accent the odd signs and statues crowded into the cozy diner’s space.


Jazz on Chandler Street — it’s not just a backyard party anymore

Charles Neville performs at the 2010 Paulie's NOLA Jazz & Blues Festival (Photo courtesy Paul Collyer)

Charles Neville performs at the 2010 Paulie's NOLA Jazz & Blues Festival (Photo courtesy Paul Collyer)

By Noah R. Bombard

For Paul Collyer, it’s not just about jazz riffs and gumbo. It’s about bringing something positive to the Chandler Street area.

June 24 and 25 will mark the fourth annual Paulie’s NOLA Jazz & Blues Festival on Chandler Street and the festival itself has been a bit of an evolutionary process. It’s not run like your typical festival. There’s no board of directors, no festival committee that runs it. It’s just Collyer. It’s his personal quest to bring something – dare we say – touristy to the city’s urban core. And it started out pretty low key.

“The first year you really can’t count,” Collyer says. “It was free food and free beer.”

That event in 2008 had a neighborhood party flair to it with a jazz theme. It offered a couple of local bands playing New Orleans-style jazz and blues and drew about 300 people. But the festival has steadily outgrown that backyard party feel with this year promising to top 2010 – more people and, perhaps more notably, some pretty high-caliber musicians “straight from New Orleans,” as Collyer says on his website.

That initial 300-some people that showed up the first year grew to more than 1,200 last year and Collyer says he’s sold 200 tickets so far this year with a few weeks left to go. And although he can’t literally grab a stretch of Bourbon Street and drop it on Chandler, he’s managed to pull in 7 of the 11 bands and performers straight from New Orleans.

“The quality of the music is a hundred fold,” Collyer says.

There’s still a smattering of local and regional favorites, including The Hurricane Horns and Dr. Gonzo’s Roadkill Orchestra. But when it comes to trying to create a slice of NOLA and planting it on Chandler Street, you can’t get much more genuine that importing musicians who play at the annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Collyer says he began calling back in September to book the bands, which are in high demand for jazz festival circuits across the country.

Who pays for them? There’s admission to get into the festival, but Collyer says the first three years of the festival cost him a total of about $30,000 of his own money. This year’s festival budget is running about $45,000 and he’s hoping to finally break even. With a track record of growing the event year-over-year, Collyer is optimistic.

What’s his drive?

“A lot of people want to put stuff on outside the urban core and I want to be one of the ones who says we can do stuff right in the middle of the city,” Collyer says. “I’m not the only one. It’s an investment in the neighborhood.”

Advance tickets for Paulie’s NOLA Jazz & Blues Festival are $15 for adults, $5 for children on Friday night; $20 for adults, $7 for children on Saturday. A two-day pass is $30 for adults and $10 for children. Tickets will also be available for purchase at the festival for $17 for adults $7 for children on Friday; $22 for adults, $9 for children on Saturday or a two-day pass for $32 for adults and $12 for children.

Food, beverages and alcohol will be available for purchase from several local vendors including Evo, Acoustic Java, Harpoon Brewery and Vinnie’s Crawfish Shack. The Festival runs from 7 p.m. to midnight on Friday and from noon to midnight on Saturday.

Some come barefoot, some wear kilts; contra dance on Main Street welcomes all

A contra dance at the Wesley Methodist Church. (Photo by Emily Hopkins)

A contra dance at the Wesley Methodist Church. (Photo by Emily Hopkins)

By Emily Hopkins

Energy radiates from the dance hall. A foot stomping fiddle tune begins and a traditional dance made popular in the 16th century comes alive in downtown Worcester. The promise of music and dancing draws people of varying backgrounds and interests to the Worcester Contra Dance at the Wesley Methodist Church on Main Street, but it is the vibrant, friendly community that quickly turns first-time dancers into regulars.


Jazz at Sunset returns to the EcoTarium June 17

If it’s Friday in the summer, it’s Jazz at Sunset. The unique Jazz at Sunset outdoor concert series — now in its 21st year — is one of Central Massachusetts’ most popular summer events thanks to its casual atmosphere, multi-generational appeal and dynamic range of nationally acclaimed performers and local legends. On June 17, the EcoTarium and WICN Public Radio kick off another spectacular six-show series.


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