Greenfield, MA isn’t necessarily known as an entertainment mecca, unless you count the fact that it’s the birthplace of Penn Jillette. But last weekend, while folks in Philly were sweating it out during the XPoNential Festival held by our pals at WXPN — and hipper listeners were at the Pitchfork Music Festival — New England was busy being blessed with its own live music extravaganza: the 24th Green River Festival.
It’s held on the grounds of a community college in rural northern Massachusetts, but the Green River Festival isn’t the collection of acoustic guitar-toting folk singers you might expect. This year’s lineup, which sprawled out over two hot summer days and nights, included a touch of the traditional (Brooks Williams opened the main stage on Saturday), but made plenty of room for the unexpected (Allen Toussaint, Cake, and Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars are just a few eclectic examples).
One of the great things about the festival’s location is room — and plenty of it: Aside from the spacious main stage area, which housed thousands of chair-and-umbrella-toting concertgoers and dozens of craft and food booths, the festivities spilled over into a huge lawn area where lesser-known acts played at the Dance Tent, hot air balloon rides were available for folks who had $250 to burn, and our pal Bill Childs delivered two days of marvelous family entertainment at the Meltdown Stage.