PHOTOS: SouthSide Arts & Music Festival Free Stage Lineup, Night 1

On Friday night, festival season arrived to South Bethlehem.

A sunny spring day provided the backdrop to the first night of this year’s SouthSide Arts & Music Festival, presented by ArtsQuest. The SouthSide played host to a number of musicians, artisans, and exhibits throughout its many venues, galleries, restaurants, and shops.

This year’s festival also marked the first year of a partnership between ArtsQuest and Lehigh Valley Underground to provide a free stage lineup consisting of all local performers. Five venues — Molly’s Irish Grille & Sports Pub, Comfort Suites Hill to Hill Grille, Color Me Mine Lehigh Valley, Domaci, and Sotto Santi — played host to local performers Chelsea Lyn Meyer, Roi and the Secret People, Julia Sommer, Leah Marie Fuls, and Rofo Audio,¬†whom patrons were able to enjoy without purchasing a festival wristband.

Our night began with Meyer, who captured the attention of the Molly’s crowd with a series of steady-rocking anthems. Highlights included a soaring cover of Four Non Blondes’ “What’s Going On?” and a nice, family-friendly moment when Chelsea invited her young son, Jadyn, to sing Bryan Adams’ “Summer of ’69.”

Next up, we trekked down to Comfort Suites Hill to Hill Grille, where Roi and the Secret People’s acoustic trio of Mike Roi, Jason Hedrington, and Ed Golden were preparing for their set. The stripped-down version of RSP was well-received, digging deep into the band’s catalog and keeping the room packed at standing room only.

From there, the route took us to Color Me Mine Lehigh Valley, where Julia Sommer was in the midst of her set. In typical fashion, Julia’s impassioned powerhouse vocals were a true standout. This set also provided another heartwarming family moment, when Julia’s father Werner joined her onstage to sing “At All Times,” which netted the duo a Lehigh Valley Music Award for Outstanding Music Video.

Speaking of outstanding vocal performances, Leah Marie Fuls was performing right next door at Domaci. Fuls filled in for singer-songwriter Kayla Avitabile as she recovers from a bad cold, and did an outstanding job, keeping passers by enticed with her engaging performance.

Our final free stage performer of the night was Rofo Audio, playing an acoustic full band set at Sotto Santi up at 10 W. 4th St. The power rock trio put their infectious tunes on display in an intimate setting, keeping a packed room hooked for the duration of their set.

That does it for Friday night’s free stages! We’ll be back out there tonight beginning at 5 p.m., when Jordyn Kenzie, Cass Noelle, Acoustic Kitty Project, January Noon, and theLionhearted will showcase what they’re made of. Meanwhile, we’ll have recaps of this weekend’s wristband stages coming over the next few days from LVU Contributor Christopher Snyder.

We’ll see you once again tonight on the SouthSide!

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