FlintFest salutes music, food, arts

Jeffery Wilson, 9, tries his hand at bullriding on top of Chaos the mechanical bull during FlintFest.

Jeffery Wilson, 9, tries his hand at bullriding on top of Chaos the mechanical bull during FlintFest.

ALBANY -- The first FlintFest music and international festival began smoothly and cruised through a sunny afternoon into the night Saturday.

"There is good music, good food and a cool breeze," said Albany Resident Ralph Walker. "Who could ask for more? This is what Albany needs, outdoor events like this."

The event combined last year's Southwest Georgia River Jam Music festival with the annual International Festival to make a 12-hour family outing, which started at noon and ended at midnight with the soft rock side of local favorites, the Bo Henry Band.

Mike Lanigan's band, the Swingin Harpoon Blues Band, appeared at the River Jam last year. The band is known for its big-band-swinging blues powered by guitar and harmonica. Lanigan was happy to be back on the Flint River at Riverfront Park to play again.

"It is an honor to be asked back to play," Lanigan said. "It means we did something right. We'll play our best for the people again."

The first music sets included the pop contemporary sound of troubadour Travis Goodson on keyboards and guitar. The various types of music would also include rhythm and blues, soul, jazz, country and alternative Christian tunes.

The smooth as silk guitar and soul-style vocals of the P&W Trio had at least one set of aluminum bleachers swaying to the beat as feet tapped in rhythm. The audience could be heard to shout, "Yeah! Oh yeah! All right!" during the set.

Gloria Hicks said she really liked the music, the food and the event's atmosphere.

"This is the way it should be with the music," Hicks said. "I like outdoor events and the way we all get along together."

Many new faces appeared at RiverFest. The D'town Art Alliance made a strong showing with several booths showcasing painting and sculpture by local artists. Many of the paintings touched on abstract visions.

Painter Sean Mulkey had many paintings of his interpretations of the big band era on display. He worked on a black and white canvas of the Duke Ellington Jazz Orchestra at his booth. There would eventually be what he called a "twist and splash of color" added to the painting.

Mulkey and other members of the art alliance hope to bring more artists and artwork into a downtown scene.

"This is a good turnout here today," Mulkey said. "It gets our art seen and will help us start the arts in downtown."

The international part of the festival packed a set of bleachers and had a good-size audience standing for its presentations of Nepalese, Spanish, Latino, Indian and African music and dancers.

"This is the first year we are together with the other festival," said Yosaiko Camp, whose Okinawa club always helps with the International Festival. "We will see how it goes tonight. We are always happy to be here."