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Festival Kicks Off This Week in Roanoke

A band performs during Down By Downtown.

The 2nd Annual Down By Downtown Festival celebrating the culture and diversity of the up and coming music scene in Roanoke will run from Wednesday, April 13 through Saturday, April 16. This year’s expanded event will feature four days of live music at eight downtown venues and an outdoor stage coordinated with the second running of the successful Blue Ridge Marathon.  The festivities will begin at Kirk Avenue Music Hall on Wednesday evening with The Newton Awards — named after Wayne Newton – Roanoke’s first big breakout artist.  Saturday’s live stage will feature young local musicians from The Music Lab at Jefferson Center and the Savannah Shoulders Band. There is no cost to attend most events – including the outdoor stage.

“There has been outstanding support from the downtown businesses and a great partnership with the Blue Ridge Marathon,” said Bruce C. Bryan, owner of B2C Enterprises and a member of the Down By Downtown organizing team.  “Each participating venue from last year is on board and we’ve added three new stages, so we’re offering almost 60 live acts in four days.”

For a second year in a row, Blue 5, Martin’s Downtown, Kirk Avenue Music Hall, Jefferson Center and Fork in the City will be featuring a strong line up of musical experiences from rock, pop, and hip-hop to classical, bluegrass and Americana.  As newcomers to the 2011 Down By Downtown event, Awful Arthur’s Downtown, Blues BBQ and Corned Beef & Co will make it truly a downtown-wide event.

From 11am to 5pm on Saturday, April 16, the festival will host a FREE outdoor stage located directly behind the City Market Building near the finish line of the 2nd Annual Blue Ridge Marathon.  Offering an exciting lineup for the thousands of runners, spectators and festival-goers — the afternoon will reach a fevered pitch with sets from the Jamie McLean Band, The Coal Men, and Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors followed by a performance from My Radio – the popular Roanoke based band who has enjoyed national acclaim with their hit “Yeah Yeah Yeah”.

The event will come to a close on Sunday at 3pm with the 2nd Annual Bridgewalk from the O. Winston Link Museum over the railroad tracks on the Williamson Road Bridge and down Salem Blvd to the Martin Luther King Bridge.  The one-hour event is meant to recognize and transform the historical barriers that once divided the city into new symbols of unity and promise. Local cultural dignitaries including Artist Jane Lillian Vance, Reverend Carl Tinsley and Sculptor, Kurt Steger, will offer brief, inspirational remarks at points along the way.

The idea for Down By Downtown grew from the 2010 CityWorks/Roanoke City sponsored Creative Connector’s initiative based on Richard Florida’s book on the Creative Class – and has become a large collaboration of music venues, community leaders and downtown businesses.  Sound equipment for the live stage is provided by Sound Stage and EventZone has partnered with P.A. Short to supply the beverages for Saturday’s outside events.  Additional volunteer support is being provided by area organizations including Habitat for Humanity, Skyline Music, City Magazine, 101.5 the music place, Viziworx Creative and the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra.

“Supporting the initiatives and efforts of young professionals is exactly how we keep them excited about living in Roanoke,” said Councilman and venue owner, Dave Trinkle.  “Events like Down By Downtown add to the great vibe of the city and secures our reputation as a great place to live and do business,” he adds.

For more information or to volunteer contact [email protected] or visit: Facebook/DownByDowntown

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