By Christopher Arnott
9:49 AM EDT, May 3, 2013
A dozen local acts, from punks to bluegrassers to neoclassical dinosaur-song singers, are gathering Saturday (May 4) from noon to 5 p.m. for Kidstock: United Family Musical Festival. The show is held at United Church on the Green, corner of Temple and Elm streets on New Haven Green.
The five-hour music festival is a benefit for United Community Nursery School, a downtown New Haven nursery school that’s been around for 50 years.
Several of the musicians have had children who attended the school. Other acts have played for UCNS before as part of the school’s annual holiday book fairs.
Noon: Jim & Liz Beloff, the husband-and-wife duo who have done so much to popularize the ukulele over the past 20 years. Jim is the “Jumpin’ Jim” who publishes a popular series of uke songbooks. His Flea Market Music site sells the distinctive Flea and Fluke ukes which he helped create. Jim & Liz have performed throughout the country and have released CDs of their uke duets.
12:25 p.m.: Jesse Balkcom, a 7-year-old guitarist who has been studying the Suzuki guitar method since he was 3. He has a wonderfully varied repertoire.
12:50 p.m.: p.m.: Gary Mezzi & Tom Smith. Gary is also known as “Buzz Gordo” of the rockabilly bands Big Bad Johns and Gone Native, while Tom has been drumming in various local bands (including The Bandidos) for decades.
1:15 p.m.: Chris Arnott & His Ukulele. The longtime New Haven Advocate writer sings and strums jazz, pop and punk covers from all eras.
1:40 p.m.: James Velvet & Johnny Memphis (of The Lonesome Sparrows). The duo is busy this time of year entertaining at the CitySeed farmers’ markets.
2 p.m.: Roxi Fox Puppet Show by Betty Baisden. The director of the United Community Nursery School is also an accomplished puppeteer who performs regularly at the Peabody Museum of Natural History and elsewhere.
2:45 p.m.: Bill Collins. Guitarist for the West Coast punk band Fang back in the ‘80s, in New Haven Collins has led The Swaggerts, played Irish songs and written brand-new anthems for organized labor movements. He’s also the creator of a pop musical based on the classic kids’ book Go Dog Go.
3:10 p.m.: Brian Robinson's Cretaceous Quintet. Robinson is the Managing Director of the Yale Symphony Orchestra, and leads the classical grunge ensemble Tet Offensive. The Cretaceous Quintet performs Robinson’s original songs-for-kids about dinosaurs.
3:35 p.m.: The Logan McCarthy Band. Bret Logan is the leader of the 20-year-old New Haven rock band Jellyshirts. With Greg McCarthy, he plays bluegrass.
4 p.m.: Dean Falcone & Shellye Valauskas. Longtime partners in the Shellye Valauskas Experience, Dean has also been part of a slew of original and cover bands in the area (100 Faces, Slowpoke, Dean & the Dragsters), while Shellye had a solo career before expanding to the four-piece SVE.
4:25 p.m.: The Wayfarers. Three members of United Church on the Green—Dan Rausch on stand-up bass, George Buchanan on guitar and Chris Arnott on ukulele—perform folk tunes and sing-alongs.
4:50 p.m.: Henry Sidle. A teenaged troubadour with a vast knowledge of classic pop and rock tunes, which he plays with pep and verve.
5 p.m.: Closing jam on “Polly Wolly Doodle.” All the musicians are invited to stick around for this grand sloppy two-chord finale.
Admission is $5, which allows to come and go freely during the festival; tickets are available at the door or at http://www.unitednewhaven.org/#/kidstock