Waterfront Independence Festival features eclectic music mix: Michael Franti, John Rich, Bettye LaVette [Music]

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If you don't feel like flipping your own burgers and risking burned fingers at the backyard fireworks this year, you might want to figure the Waterfront Independence Festival into your plans this coming weekend, July 3 and 4.

On both Saturday and Sunday nights, the music lineup offers something for everyone. John Rich (formerly of Big & Rich) and Tyler Dickerson bring the country on Saturday night, and Sunday's headliner Michael Franti and Spearhead's world music blend will be opened by soul great Bettye LaVette and hip-hop band Arrested Development. The concerts are free, although you will have to spring for your food and drink from festival vendors (outside food and alcohol are prohibited, although you can bring in bottled water with unbroken seals). A fireworks show over the Ohio will cap off each evening's events.

Saturday, the festival gets under way at 5:00 p.m., which is when the Catfish Louie kid's area opens, as well as the Coors Light Beer Garden and Festival Food Market. The 202nd Army Band of the Kentucky National Guard kicks off at 6:00 p.m. with patriotic music, followed by Dickerson, and then John Rich with special guest Cowboy Troy in the featured concert at around 8:45 p.m.

If you're a fan of soul, you don't want to miss Bettye LaVette on Sunday. She's been going strong for 50 years and just released an album of covers from the British Rock Invasion, called Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook. The tracks I've heard on WFPK are pretty cool, including LaVette's rendition of  “Please Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood,” along with covers of Clapton, George Harrison, Elton John, and others.

Bridging the gap to the headliner is Atlanta hip-hop band Arrested Development. Their music is concerned with social justice issues and a message of respect and responsibility, which should segue nicely into the barefoot troubadour of funk, rock and reggae, Michael Franti and his band Spearhead.

Franti is a native of Oakland, California and has built his following with tireless touring and an uplifting message of peace and justice. As part of his involvement in the Mideast peace movement, he also produced and directed a documentary film I Know I'm Not Alone, which chronicled his journey through Iraq, Israel, and Palestine.

Franti's last CD, All Rebel Rockers, was also his most successful with songs like “Say Hey (I Love You)” and “A Little Bit of Riddim.” Franti and Spearhead will release The Sound of Sunshine in August.

Green initiatives and more

Festival Vendors are using recyclable packaging and will also collect cooking oil to be recycled as biodiesel fuel. Festival attendees are asked to use recycling bins that are provided. Bicycling for Louisville is sponsoring free bicycle parking near the festival entrance so biking to the event is encouraged. Festival attendees are also encouraged  to bring non-perishable food items to the Dare to Care Collection points at the Festival Entrance.

For details on the festival, event times, sponsors, and prohibited and allowed items, see www.waterfrontindependencefestival.com.
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