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Audience returns to Point Richmond Music Fest: ‘It’s very much a community event’

on September 14, 2022

After a two-year absence due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Point Richmond Music Festival was back in full swing this summer with an eclectic roster of artists playing everything from Bollywood pop to Louisiana zydeco.

With Friday temperatures hovering at a pleasant 70 degrees, Park Place was packed from curb to curb for the year’s third and final performance, featuring Laurie Lewis and Andre Thierry.

While enjoying the free music, attendees availed themselves of tacos from a local food truck, beer from the home-grown East Brother Beer Co., and what organizer Andrew Butt called the “the best margarita you’d ever have at a concert for the best price.”

Richmond music
The Point Richmond Music Festival wraps up with Andre Thierry and Zydeco Magic. (Sasha Schell)

The show, however, was stolen by Thierry and his band, Zydeco Magic, whose brilliant meld of accordion, drums, and washboard left seats empty as the dance floor swelled.

“The people’s energy fuels us, said Thierry, a Richmond native.

“I’ve been up since 6 o’clock, so I was dead tired and all of a sudden, I got a boost of energy when I started playing.”

Asked what it meant to see the festival operating again after the pandemic, Thierry said, “I think there’s only two things that bring people together — natural disasters and music. … It feels good to see that people still respond to this kind of music.”

Richmond music
Andre Thierry plays his accordion at the Point Richmond Music Festival. (Sasha Schell)

The Point Richmond Music Festival started in 2000 when current Mayor Tom Butt and a group of volunteers began organizing free monthly concerts in a parking lot off of Park Place.

As Andrew Butt tells, “Nothing like this had ever happened in Point Richmond. There were some live music venues, but in terms of a live music concert series or music festival, there wasn’t really anything like that prior.”

Since its inception, the festival has remained true to its roots, providing free music while highlighting local artists and businesses. Though previous incarnations included a day long art fair with more vendors, the effort to scale down to just the concerts helped organizers coin the motto: “The Point is music.”

Funded entirely by local donors and sponsors, the concert series went off without fail every summer between 2000 and 2019. The last two years, however, saw that streak broken.

“It was rough. The town was totally dead during the shutdown,” Andrew Butt said. “There’s just not a whole lot going on here,” so people were really ready to get back and hang out with their neighbors and dance in the street.”

And dance they did. Though the festival does not keep track of crowd numbers, organizers have said the 2022 concerts have featured some of the largest crowds they’ve seen.

“This is the first time that we’ve been, and we hope it comes back yearly now, because this is fun,” said Gabby Lieber, who was enjoying Friday’s show. “It’s great.”

Longtime Point Richmond resident Tyler Osborne said the music also has helped neighbors reconnect with each other.

“It’s very much a community event,” Osborne said, “And we look forward to the next one.”

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