Sewickley Art and Music Festival entertained as promised over the weekend
Monday, October 1, 2018 | 9:03 AM
Paige Landay, 22, of Moon, sat in the center of Broad Street for more than 14 hours this weekend, using bright orange and deep blue pastel chalk to bring the image of a dachshund to life on the asphalt road.
Children and adults alike stopped by as the masterpiece unfolded before their eyes in the center of the Sewickley Art and Music Festival, which closed down a portion of Broad Street to traffic on Sept. 28 and 29 in the heart of town.
Tunes from some of Pittsburgh’s top musicians resounded from the main stage, as lines formed at some of the area’s most popular food truck vendors stationed on the other end of the festival. A beer wagon in the center allowed participants of age to enjoy their favorite libations while taking in all of the sights and sounds of the festival.
“It brings everybody together,” said Craig Edmunds, a Sewickley resident for 43 years, as he and his son, Beckett, 6, a kindergartener at Sewickley Academy, looked on as Landay worked on her drawing.
“I like the orange,” Beckett said of his favorite part of the festival, as he watched intently.
This marked the second year for the Sewickley Art and Music Festival, which serves as a fundraiser for the nonprofit Explore Sewickley, said Alex Lancianese, main street manager for the group.
“People just love closing the street down and having a place to walk around and just kind of interact with the community,” she said.
The event started when the nonprofit, which works to promote and market business development in Sewickley, was looking for new, diverse ways to raise money, Lancianese said.
“There’s tons of beer, an amazing musical lineup,” she said. A construction project in the middle of the street put a hamper on an art display this year, so attendees were encouraged to visit featured art at five galleries and boutiques instead.
The hope, also, is that while people are checking out the festival, they stop by local businesses, said Lancianese, who gave props to Sewickley’s public works and police for helping pull together the festival.
Rich Engler, a music coordinator and producer who has lived in Sewickley Heights for 35 years, spent six months working on the festival’s music lineup that included 16 groups or duos he said includes a “superstar lineup” and “great, solid, awesome talent.”
On Friday night, that included capping the evening off with the Granati Brothers and nationally touring David Bowie tribute band Bowie Live.
On Saturday night, the stellar lineup included a super jam session and performances by some of Pittsburgh’s top artists that included Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers, who frequently share the stage with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Rusted Root lead singer Michael Glabicki, and special guest Donnie Iris.
WDVE’s Jimmy Krenn was set to take the stage to sing for the first time — and of course, tell some jokes.
“It’s all free. That’s the greatest part of it,” said Engler, whose band MEM3 performed at the festival. Tickets for many of these top artists often sell for $35 to $40, Engler said, but here, people had the chance to see them all and not spend a dime.
Lizzie Denniston, 27, of Sewickley, and her two sisters Maggie, 24, also of Sewickley, and Jamie, 24, who was visiting from Annapolis, were sitting on the front porch of Lizzie’s home just blocks away on Saturday afternoon enjoying sister time and a glass of Champagne. They heard the music from the festival and decided to venture down and enjoy a cup of Rhinegeist Bubbles Rose Ale while listening to the music.
“We love this stuff that Sewickley puts together,” Lizzie said.
Suzonne and Tom Smith, both 80, who have lived in Sewickley since 1978, sat in the front row of fold out chairs on Saturday afternoon to watch Tru Kin perform. They’ve known the duo, Rosie and David, who are from the area, since they little.
“This is such a nice thing. The whole event does a lot of wonderful things for our community,” Tom Smith said. It draws people from outside the community to see how great Sewickley is, he said.
“I just love seeing the children,” Suzonne said of the kids who danced to the music. “It just fills my soul with such joy.”
Jillian Bichsel, a 17-year resident of Edgeworth, brought her 7-year-old dog Pippa to the festival to hear neighbors Rosie and David perform. She and her husband, Chris, own Sewickley Confectionery, just up the street. They attended Friday night and said having an event so close means you can go back multiple times.
“I love Sewickley. I love everything it has to offer,” she said. “It’s nice that this is right in your backyard. Usually you have to drive downtown to see something like this.”
During the day on Saturday, people sat in chairs near the front of the stage and stood in the street, sipping on a drink or just chatting with neighbors, as the musicians played on stage.
By 7:30 p.m., when the main performers took the stage, the street was filled with people swaying to the music. Some brought blankets to sit on the grassy areas next to the street. Others waited in line 30 minutes, or more, to get a taste of Shark Tank famous Cousins Maine Lobster. Many brought their dogs with them.
“It’s the food, music, everything,” said Mike Denk, as he waited in line with his son, Andrew, for the lobster.
“It’s the community, too,” said Andrew, 12, who mentioned the festival provides a chance to see friends and neighbors.
Stephanie Hacke is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.