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The Future Collective’s manifesto hangs in its studio space on Elliot Street.

The Arts

With a little help from a lot of friends

Fueled by volunteers and creativity, Future Collective set to roll out Future Fest 3 this weekend

Admission is $7 to $14 per show, or $19 to 40 for a three-day pass, all on a sliding scale. Tickets and passes also can be purchased at the event. For more information, write

BRATTLEBORO—Have you ever run with a lit candle toward pyrotechnics?

Have you ever had an egg tied to your head in the name of teamwork?

Have you ever battled evil with a spoon?

“This is your chance, people,” says Emily Zervas, with Rolf Parker-Houghton a Field Day coordinator for Future Fest 3, The Future Collective’s third Annual Awesome Multi-Day Arts and Music Festival.

The local arts and music group The Future Collective produces the event. Volunteers plan, perform, cook, and clean up.

Most of the work is done by the Collective’s Steering Committee: Wyatt Andrews, Hannah Cummins, Jonas Fricke, Willie Gussin, and Tess Lindsay. They’re backed by many other community volunteers who also support the Collective’s mission.

Fricke is master of ceremonies for Future Fest 3, which runs Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, Aug. 29 to 31, at venues in downtown Brattleboro. Organizers say the Fest promises to be a collection “of mind-blowing expansionists and fun.”

Friday night kicks off the Fest with a concert at The Stone Church on Main Street, featuring eight bands from four New England states.

The evening’s lineup begins with Carinae, described as “Hadley [Mass.] Indie Psych Rockin,’” and ends with Barishi: “pure metal freight train featuring backflips on stage.”

Other acts promise music “from the bottom of the well, party rock and thrash, and “existential glitter Popsicle crisis.”

The Field Day portion of Future Fest takes place at the Crowell Lot, on Western Avenue at Union and Cedar streets. On Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. attendees can play “New Games”-inspired games, most of which are “big-team” games.

For those with limited mobility or who simply want to take a break from “the Human Knot,” the sack race, and other high-energy activities, there will be non- or limited-movement games such as a heckling contest and “the Three-Headed Oracle.”

Some games are also contests, and Zervas encourages participants to “impress your friends, banish bad vibes, and take top prize!”

Sixteen bands are lined up to play at The Stone Church from 2 p.m. until midnight. Local favorites Belle Machine (“Brattleboro’s premier tight fun-time rock outfit”) and Tall Boys (“Future Los Angeles heart-achey dancy pop tall decadent dream boat”) are joined by bands descending here from elsewhere in New England.

Of course there’s a carnival

The Future Fest Carnival runs Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Elliot Street Park (in the event of rain, it moves to Headroom Stages, upstairs at 17 Elliot St.). Admission is free as is lunch, offered from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Interactive activities abound with booths for “fun, art, photography, futuristic cosmetology, and DIY face painting.”

Community groups such as The Root Social Justice Center and the Vermont Workers’ Center will staff information tables.

The roster of acoustic music, dance, and puppet shows at the carnival includes 12 acts. Most are local, hailing from Brattleboro, Putney, and Marlboro, with a few artists traveling from the Northeast Kingdom and Providence, R.I.

Styles range from Rush Awesome’s “relax in the park, drone, sound collage” to Jeff Hiam’s “classic country and honkytonk old songs sung true.”

Just back from her national tour, Ruth Garbus, “Brattleboro’s legendary humble amazingness,” performs at 3:15 p.m.

After a break, the Fest resumes at Headroom Stages with 4{1/2}hours of additional music with nine acts performing sets of 30 to 40 minutes each, beginning at 7 p.m.

The lineup feature visiting bands and a few local groups that have garnered attention regionally and nationwide.

Guilford’s MV & EE perform at 9 p.m. Matt Valentine and Erika Elder form the basis of the self-described “lunar raga” group, with an impressive lineup of past and present band members: J. Mascis (of Dinosaur, Jr., and Witch), Ron Schneiderman (of Sunburned Hand Of The Man), and Chris Corsano (who has played with various members of Sonic Youth, Bjork, and experimental/outsider project Jandek).

MV & EE are signed to Thurston Moore’s Easthampton, Mass.-based Ecstatic Peace! label, with Motown Records handling distribution.

At 9:40 p.m. Brattleboro’s The Snaz get going. The four-piece indie rock band — teenagers Dharma Ramirez, Mavis Eaton, Zack James, and Nina Singleton-Spencer — formed in 2011 “with a bunch of songs and few local gigs” and quickly got the attention of Grammy-winning producer Peter Solley, who has been working with them since 2012.

Their song “Anna,” on heavy rotation at the Northampton, Mass., radio station WRSI, appears on their album recorded at the world-class Guilford Sound studio. That recording session was the result of The Snaz triumphing at Brattleboro’s Battle of the Bands.

During Sunday evening’s music fest, The Future gallery and performance space will be open for attendees to take in Dalia Shevin’s and Saturn Ladyheart Milner’s art show.

Although the two recently moved to Pennsylvania, during their time in the Brattleboro area they were involved in the art and music scenes. Shevin received local and regional acclaim for her 2013 interactive art project, installation, and performance piece “One Thousand Love Letters.”

Weekend Fest attendees can bid on items, services, and experiences at the silent auction. Past auction items included a tour of every pizza joint within 30 miles of Brattleboro, guided by Collective member and pizza-enthusiast Gussin; a lullaby written and performed for the winner’s children; and a risqué crochet lesson with Cal Moen.

Hannah Cummins, silent-auction organizer, reports the confirmed prizes for this year’s Fest: “original art pieces by Brattleboro favorites, custom jewelry pieces, prints by local photographers, tarot readings, bellydance lessons, and more [are still coming in].”

Alcohol-free event offers free lunch (donations welcomed)

Wyatt Andrews is in charge of all food and beverages for the alcohol-free event, including Sunday’s free lunch during the outdoor carnival at the Elliot Street park. He says he’ll have a grill there, with burgers, roast vegetables, pasta salads, and rice dishes on the menu.

The other events will have finger food for attendees and performers, such as what’s promised as a ton of fresh cherry tomatoes from Wild Carrot Farm.

Andrews says, “I really want to say I’m grateful to [Brattleboro’s] Wild Carrot Farm, [Guilford’s] Circle Mountain Farm, and [Brattleboro’s] Camp Waubanong for donating food to the event. We’re going to have gluten-free and vegan options too.”

Although Andrews plans to prepare the weekend’s food himself, and attendees can eat for free, he says “donations are great.”

Andrews also says anyone who wants to come up and help is welcome too.

Mobile shrines to help honor fallen friends

On a somber note, the members of The Future Collective have mobile shrines planned to help attendees honor members of the Collective and friends from the local arts communities who have died this past past year.

Ian Proctor and other local artists have designed the shrines “to incorporate interactive elements for the public to remember beloved members of the community” by writing notes to the deceased, or lighting candles in their honor, according to Andrews.

The shrines will travel to the various events during the weekend.

Get the guide

Attendees wishing to keep track of the multitude of events and enjoy an original piece of art can do both with the Fest’s official program guide, in the form of a zine. Designed by New Orleans-based artist Jean Trapchak, it features a map of events, full descriptions of the performers, and original art.

Trapchak, formerly of Brattleboro, is known locally for her distinctive design style, gracing a variety of area event posters and restaurant menus. The publication features the Collective’s logo, a collaborative effort in which every letter spelling out “Future Collective” was designed by a different member of the collective.

‘For all-ages fun and a world of expression’

Future Fest is the collective’s major fundraising effort, and the revenue raised at the weekend event supports their mission to “provide fun, all-ages, accessible, inclusive, anti-oppressive, community minded spaces and events that foster creative, political, and personal expression.”

Their expenses are fairly low, being completely volunteer-run, so all money can be used to maintain the collective’s art- and music gallery on Elliot Street in Brattleboro, produce events at other venues, and pay artists and musicians.

It’s common knowledge being a musician isn’t the best get-rich-quick scheme, but the collective wants to support creativity, even if the best they can do is steer traveling bands some gas money.

Steering Committee member Tess Lindsay says, “We rely on the awesomeness and kindness of local musicians.”

Fricke, also with the Steering Committee, reports all the bands performing at Future Fest are “playing only for gas money. Nobody is making money. All the bands are joyfully volunteering their time.”

From ideas to action

The Future Collective began in January 2011. Gussin reports Lindsay and Fricke were there from the beginning.

Early on, Gussin says, “many people came to the meetings with a bunch of ideas: a community garden, a community kitchen, a yoga studio.”

Long on ideas but short on people committed enough to actually get anything done, the Collective self-selected to a core group with plans and follow-through. As with many new groups, a lack of money stood in the way.

“Before the first Future Fest, we had no money,” Gussin said. “After that, we had a budget!”

Achieving nonprofit status has also helped the group project legitimacy, and offer tax deductions, to donors.

Gussin expects Future Fest 3 to raise the bar for the event, as the fledgling group gains experience in planning and producing such a huge endeavor.

“There were many lessons learned between last year’s Fest and this one,” he says. Building on the success of last year’s event, where Gussin reports “people came from as far away as Montreal, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut just for the Fest.”

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Originally published in The Commons issue #269 (Wednesday, August 27, 2014). This story appeared on page B1.

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