Smithfield plans musical treat

Published 10:05 pm Monday, September 24, 2012

This Friday and Saturday’s Aiken and Friends Fest at Smithfield will be held at Windsor Castle Park for the first time.

The venue change from Joyner Field for three Saturday workshops and various performances is creating a buzz among music fans, said Jim Abicht, who with wife Elaine Abicht directs Smithfield Music, the festival presenter.

“The Windsor Castle Park is a perfect place for something like this,” Abicht said. “We needed to grow, and this only will allow us to grow.”

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The seventh annual festival kicks off at 7:30 p.m. Friday, with an in-the-round concert featuring acclaimed singer-songwriters Mike Aiken, Elliot Lurie and Bonnie Bishop at Smithfield Little Theater.

“We’ve had trouble in past years getting people to understand what the Friday night show is about,” Abicht said.

“It’s for the singer-songwriters … to present their songs and give behind-the-scenes stories about what was in their minds when they wrote (them).”

Saturday workshops include songwriting with Aiken and Lurie at 11:30 a.m., indie music promotion with Northwind Records President Amy Aiken at 1:30 p.m., and guitar with master guitarist and Norfolk State University music department chair Sam Dorsey at 3:30 p.m. Workshop times are subject to change.

Also on Saturday, two separate sites will be active at Windsor Castle Park between 11:30 a.m. and 9:30 p.m., with performance details subject to change.

Shows at the River Stage include the Smithfield High School Marching Band at 11:30 a.m., father-and-son duo Beaucoup Blue (David and Adrian Mowry) at 1 p.m., Virginia Americana and roots group The Muckrakes at 3:30 p.m. and Bishop at 6 p.m.

T. Edwin Doss, Logan Vath and Paul Norfleet, winners of a songwriting contest held earlier in September at venues in Newport News and Hampton, will take to the Castle Stage at noon. Further sets on that stage at 2:15 p.m., 4:45 p.m. and 7:15 p.m., respectively, will come from Susan Greenbaum of Richmond, David Olney, who has been compared to Leonard Cohen, and Mike Aiken.

Abicht described the festival as a “celebration of song.”

“We’re … of the opinion that … there is some fabulous entertainment out there in this country, most of which no one will ever hear,” he said. “We actively seek it and try to bring it to light. Hearing the song right from the creator of that song, we think, is pretty neat.”

Ticket prices range from $10 for workshops (one or all three) to $35 for a two-day festival pass (or $60 for two two-day passes, for a limited time).

Tickets for the Friday songwriters concert are $25, and a $15 (in advance) or $20 (on the day) Fest Field Pass is good all day for Windsor Castle Park, while children 12 and under are free with a paying adult.

“We are excited to be moving the fest riverside to Windsor Castle Park — bigger, better and just a beautiful site,” Mike Aiken stated in the release.

“I’m happy to be bringing in old friends and new ones — from the soulful, bluesy Bonnie Bishop to the legendary David Olney. It will be awesome music.”

The festival will also feature arts and craft vendors. For more details, including ticket orders, visit