While there’s no doubt that Saturday is the star of the Great American Brass Band Festival, Friday has developed into more than simply a warm-up act for the main event.
Beginning with the history conference at 9 a.m. and wrapping up with a concert more than 12 hours later, Friday features a full slate of opportunities for festival-goers to get the party started, both in Danville and at venues outside the city.
Director Niki Kinkade said planners look at the festival as a four-day event and try to make sure each day offers events designed to appeal to a broad audience. But, Kinkade said, Friday has emerged as a big to-do in its own right, especially for local residents.
“I think a lot of local people have parties that night. They like to get out and see everybody. It’s very social,” she said.
The history conference kicked off at 9 this morning at Danville High School and features a luncheon concert by Dodsworth Saxhorn Band. Young trumpet phenom Natalie Dungey will perform a mini recital at 2:30 p.m. Lectures will be going on until 4 p.m.
“The history conference adds an educational component that is very important to the festival,” Kinkade said.
Folks will have a chance to venture outside of Danville to Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill to see the Walnut Street Ragtime Ramblers at 4:30 p.m. This marks the second year Shakertown has hosted a GABBF concert and the bucolic setting mixes well with the Ramblers’ Louis Armstrong-Scott Joplin stylings. It’s free.
Back in Danville, winning poster designer Allison Craig will be signing purchases at the Community Arts Center from 6-8 p.m. The Gallery Hop Stop runs from 5:30-9 p.m. at various businesses downtown, where artists ranging from photographers to jewelers to painters will be on hand to discuss their works and offer them for sale. Prefab Rehab will enliven the shopping with music along the way. Both events are free.
At 7 p.m., the Great American Balloon Race lifts off at Stuart Powell Field in Junction City. Gates open at 5:30 p.m. with the Circle City Sidewalk Stompers clown band providing entertainment as the colorful balloons prepare to take to the air. It’s free.
Also at 7 p.m., the Beaumont Inn in Harrodsburg will host an evening concert by the Dixie Power Trio, a four-piece outfit that plays a gumbo of Louisiana styles in a lively, care-free manner. It’s free.
Back in Danville, Soul Rebel Brass Band, which closes Saturday’s concert lineup, will give a preview of what it will offer when it performs from 8 to 9:30 p.m. at Weisiger Park next to the courthouse. Band members were raised and trained in New Orleans, and spice up traditional brass band fare with bits of reggae, funk, hip-hop and R&B. Yes, it’s free.