As August comes to a close and a new fall semester starts for college students, this week will mark another beginning: The first RecoveryRockFest (RRF) will be held on Saturday, August 29 at UNCW’s Kenan Auditorium (601 S. College Rd.). A clean and sober music festival, RRF was created in support of folks in recovery from addiction, as well as for the important programs and community resources people rely on to get through their addictions. RRF founder Nyla Cione says the initial idea was to celebrate recovery from addiction through music, as well as allow people in recovery an event that actively supports their new way of living.
“We have come to find out that people who choose to live substance-free lifestyles, who are not necessarily predisposed to addiction, also prefer to enjoy these types of events,” she continues, “and so RecoveryRockFest is inclusive to the whole community, even outside people who may be predisposed to addiction.”
A portion of proceeds will go to UNCW’s CRC Collegiate Recovery Program, which offers resources for UNCW students in recovery. The decision for the festival to coincide with the start of school was purposeful.
“We believe the timing of this event will allow college students the opportunity to attend,” Cione says. “We have a portion of the event dedicated to share this on-campus program.”
Parents—particularly those with kids heading into middle school where exposure to substances can begin—are getting excited to have a new event to with their children. “I have been getting quite a few calls from parents who want their kids to experience substance-free events [and] want their kids to see other youth having a good time,” Cione says.
RRF will feature local and regional artists, including Folkstar, a folk duo made up of Kim Dicso and Sue Cag. Wilmington Americana favorites Stray Local (who just released their third album this month, “Lonesome Road”) joins the lineup. Mike Blair and the Stonewalls’ performance will precede show headliner Melissa Ferrick.
“This first year we chose some local favorite bands who were willing to support our mission,” Cione explains. “Though some of our bands may not be in the recovery community, they are excited to support this event. . . . We asked Melissa if she would do the festival since I know recovery is dear to her heart.”
Indie folk artist Melissa Ferrick is a supporter of clean and sober lifestyles and programs. A talented musician, associate professor at Berklee College of Music in Boston, and advocate for the LGTB community, Ferrick knows the struggles associated with addiction first-hand.
“As a queer woman in long-term recovery, I feel a personal connection to the cause,” Ferrick explains. “It means a great deal to participate in a festival that supports recovery. The more mental health care and recovery-based opportunities from addiction for people, the better our country will be.”
Ferrick’s latest self-titled album was recorded at home and released on her own label, Right On Records. As her 12th album, creative control was important.
“It’s been wonderful to be able to write, record, manufacture, promote, and distribute again on my own,” she says. “I am just really grateful to have made this record. I’m very proud of it.”
Like Ferrick’s past work, which has garnered her an International Acoustic Music Award and two Independent Music Award nominations, her latest album offers thoughtful insight and encouragement of self-acceptance. “Most all of my writing is based on my own personal reflections or experiences of life,” she says. “Writing is a mystical thing, it comes mostly ‘out of no where’ and I’m learning year-by-year how to better control, sculpt, and harness what comes out of the pen.”
Ferrick continues to tour between teaching in Boston and working on new projects. “Being a teacher keeps me in the middle, it helps me not forget to ‘have a dream’ and it helps me to feel a new purpose,” she says. “I’m currently producing a few songs for a former student, Ana Yanez, who is from Miami. I am really enjoying producing and helping other artists trying to begin to do what I’ve been doing now since 1991.”
After the RecoveryRockFestival ends, attendees are invited to the LVL3 after party at the Hannah Block Community Arts Center (120 S. 2nd St.) from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. In collaboration with RAVECLEAN, the LVL3 after party is free to the public 18 years of age or older. RAVECLEAN is a national nonprofit organization that works with local communities to organize drug and alcohol-free, rave-style dances, free to the public.
“We are so excited they are willing to team up with us,” Cione says. “RAVECLEAN had initially contacted me about [the festival] when we were first getting started on production, to let me know about their substance-free dance raves. In further conversation with them, we found out our mission is proportionate to their mission.”
The LVL3 afterparty features a half dozen DJs, including TwoClikz, Mad Fellow, Jekyll n Hyde, and DJ Illy to name a few. In typical rave fashion, costumes and self-expression are welcome. There will be body painting, live graffiti, flow arts, glow sticks, happy oranges, and more. Drinks, light refreshments and food trucks will be available also, but RecoveryRockFest ticket holders will receive a free beverage.
The RecoveryRockFest is Saturday, August 29, at UNCW’s Kenan Auditorium. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the concert starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 at the door and $15 for UNCW students with a valid ID. The LVL3 RAVECLEAN afterparty at the Hannah Block Community Arts Center is free to public from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m.
For more, visit recoveryrockfest.com.