The Hippo


Jul 21, 2019








Art Jam Bridge Fest

When: Saturday, Sept. 23, 10 a.m.
Where: Bridge Street, downtown Manchester 
Main stage (Bridge & MacGregor streets)
MB Padfield
Pat & The Hats
The Slakas
Chad LaMarsh
Center stage (Notre Dame Bridge)
Dog Fathers
Vinyl Legion Band
Nick Ferreo & the Graniteers
A Simple Complex
West stage (Bridge & Elm streets)
Dimension Dance
Nicole Knox Murphy
LA Beatz
Sophia Lee Davis
Justin Cohn
Hometown Eulogy
Dance Works
Boys & Girls Club
Sensitive Men

City and color
Bridge Street shuts down for Art Jam

By Michael Witthaus

What began as a desire to add some color to downtown Manchester has blossomed into a multimedia event, and one that may make a little bit of history in the process. Along with music on three Bridge Street stages, a sidewalk chalk jam, dancers and food trucks, the upcoming Art Jam Bridge Fest aims to create enough paper butterflies to enter the Guinness Book of World Records.
“It’s an art festival that kind of grew a little bit more ... theatric,” organizer Lucie Chakmakas of Manchester Radio Group said recently. 
The effort will address the opioid crisis in New Hampshire. 
“Art Jam is a bridge jammed with lots of stuff going on, with art done in a colorful, positive way. At the same time, we’ll create awareness for what is going on in the state,” she said.
Chakamakas’s colleague Jim Butler curated a stellar music lineup, gathering local bands with help from Rocking Horse Studio producer Brian Coombes and Jewel’s Anderson Moura. New England Music Award winners Pat & the Hats and A Simple Complex are among the performers. The list includes 16 acts, ranging from quiet folk and country to hard rock.
The entertainment is split into three stages. One features pop-oriented acts, including alt rockers Blindspot, classic cover group The Slakas, Manchester favorite Chad LaMarsh and Pat & the Hats. The Center Stage offers heavier music: the aforementioned A Simple Complex, Dogfathers and Divvisions along with Vinyl Legion Band and Nick Ferreo & the Graniteers. 
North Side Plaza’s stage mixes country and singer-songwriter types — Justin Cohn, Nicole Knox Murphy and the cleverly named Sensitive Men — with dance performances from LA Beatz, Dance Works and Dimensions Dance. Throughout, area artists will create works and offer items for sale. Painter Eric Escobart plans a 6x40-foot graffiti art mural.
Butler hopes that Art Jam will help musicians expand their audience. 
People wouldn’t see them because they’re not going out on a weekend night can catch their act and take home a CD, he said. 
“The music community, God bless them, this is all volunteer work,” he said. “None of them are being paid to be there on the bridge. They are all doing it out of the goodness of their heart. They can relate to the cause.”
Leading off on the East Stage is MB Padfield, a singer-songwriter who has publicly discussed her personal struggle with substance abuse and had made an on-air promo spot for Art Jam. 
“Telling her story about addiction and saying, ‘Come on down, let’s listen to some music’ — she really put herself out there for us,” Chakamaka said.
All of the acts can relate to the cause, she added. “Almost every band member or vendor or artist is affected one way or another ... a friend,  a family member. So it’s amazing to watch the art world, the music world, vendors, the city, everyone just really coming together.”
Butler agreed. 
“This addiction crisis reaches people that you would never, ever suspect ... had problems,” he said. “Well-to-do business [people and] well-known people — it reaches all economic and social ladders. It really opened up our eyes to this, and we were very enthusiastic about going out and putting it all together for a great day on the Bridge Street Bridge.”
The genesis for Art Jam came from Chakamakas, who guided the event’s vision. 
“It is something that has been in my head and heart and I just really felt like I needed to do something;  I love to give back,” she said. 
She received input and support from her friend, a community relations director at Hannaford  Supermarkets. 
“I just kind of toyed with it for a good six to eight months ... and she started saying, ‘I wish there was a way,’” Chakamakas said.
After talking to state and business officials, and consulting with charitable efforts, Chakamakas had a plan, and support from MRG, which runs WZID, The Outlaw, and other stations. 
“It was really just listening to people; everyone we met was saying we need something where we can all come together,” she said. “The two worlds [art and music] kind of collided. … Everything just fell into place, and here we are.” 

®2019 Hippo Press. site by wedu