At the annual Point Richmond Music Festival, which held its final concert of the season last Friday, neighbors greeted each other with handshakes and hugs. Richmond residents, including Mayor Tom Butt, drank salt-rimmed margaritas as lively music played in the background and children ran up and down Park Place, closed off for the event.
Andrew Butt, the Point Richmond Music Festival board president and the mayor’s oldest son, said his father was one of the many Point Richmond community members who were in favor of starting the festival 16 years ago.
“We thought we needed to have something to bring the town together,” said Andrew Butt. “Something fun for people to do that would kind of enliven the town here and get people to come out and meet and greet each other and have fun.”
Though the concert was created many years ago, the mini-street festival is still evolving. New this year: three local food trucks, serving up tacos, Cajun bites, and Filipino street food.
Another change? The absence of any Chevron logos. About two years ago, said Butt, the festival board decided to end the refinery’s participation. “We all feel pretty good about it,” he said.
For Matt Jaffe, lead singer, guitar player, and songwriter for Matt Jaffe and the Distractions, one of the two bands that played at Friday’s festival, playing in Point Richmond felt relaxed and fun.
“I think live music is really important,” said the Bay Area-based musician, “and it’s great when it gets civic sponsorship.”
Many Point Richmond residents agree.
“I like the community coming together,” said Will Davis, who lives right around the block from where the festival takes place. “I like the fact that it actually represents Richmond as a whole, because Point Richmond tends to be insular as a community.”
That was one of the reasons, said Butt, that admission to the street concert has always been free, supported by sponsors, donations and volunteers. “We wanted it to really be open to everybody and not have any kind of barriers to attendance,” he said.
ExtraLarge also played at last week’s festival. The festival organized five concert events this summer, featuring music ranging from rock to zydeco.