A Musical Odyssey

PETERBOROUGH: The Thing in the Spring/Broke Arts is back for its seventh year

The American concept of liberal arts stems from the idea that merging diverse subjects such as — mathematics, philosophy, literature, and social sciences — provides a better education than focusing on just one.

So what if artist from a variety of disciplines joined together for a four-day event?

The event might be called a liberal arts festival, or maybe an artistic education; whatever it is, it is The Thing in The Spring.

The Thing in The Spring is a funky, quirky interdisciplinary celebration of art. It’s a musical odyssey, with good food and visual artists along the way.

Thursday through Sunday local, regional and internationally known — rock, punk, indie, folk and jazz musicians and bands play in parks, historic buildings, and on streets throughout Peterborough. All weekend, local restaurants stay open late and serve special menu items. While on Saturday, June 7, vintage and original jewelry makers, potters, painters and artisanal tool makers sell handmade goods.

“It’s like a diamond in the rough festival,” said, Dustin Cote, drummer for Bunny’s A Swine. “By that I mean, it’s getting bigger and bigger every year. It’s so intimate right now, and totally walkable, but I bet someday it’s going to be huge and be on the radar — as an awesome festival — across the US.”

“It’s a magical few days,” he added.

This year marks the seventh spring for “The Thing.” The festival will feature more than 30 bands from across New England and over 50 artists will selling wares.

VIDEO: Check out the 2014 Thing in the spring promo video here:

Each day multiple bands play. On Thursday, June 5, for example, Magic Markers, Bad History Month, Suicide Magnets and Dust From 1,000 Years will be playing at Toadstool Bookshop, while Pine Grove plays at the Waterhouse Restaurant, and Ol’ Factory and Will Kindler rock out at Harlow’s Pub. On Saturday starting at noon, nine different bands will be playing outside behind the Peterborough Town Hall. At 7 p.m. Simone Felice, Death Vessel and Mail the Horse take the stage inside the Town Hall and down the street at The Waterhouse Restaurant DJ Disco Phantom will be entertaining crowds.

Although each band at The Thing has a different sound, the music makes sense, said Elisabeth Fuchsia Parker, photographer and jewelry maker. “It’s basically like a really good live mix tape,” she said.

Parker has been involved with The Thing in Spring for three years. When she describes the festival to friends she usually starts by saying, “There’s always something going on, and it’s always something you should be at.”

Last year was the first year Parker sold jewelery at Broke: An Affordable Arts Fair — part of The Thing in The Spring.

For the first time this year, Broke will take place at two venues: The Peterborough Town Hall and Bass Hall. Thing denizens can wander from Town Hall to Bass Hall (checking out the Chicks and Hens pop-up clothing sale along the way) for a double dose of Broke Arts. The expanded space means more room for shoppers, browsers and general hobnobbery in both venues, and more tables than any previous year.

Lillian Graham is a jewelry maker in Boston. She specializes in jewelry made from vintage tins. In the six years since she started her boutique jewelry business, Memorable Designs, Graham has participated in festivals across New England. The Thing in the Spring is by far her favorite.

Not only does Graham believe that the event pulls together “tremendously talented artists,” but she credits the local community with contributing to making the event so spectacular.

“Every year I come back and I see people wearing my jewelry. They come and find me and want to buy something. It’s an amazing feeling.”

Another “amazing” thing about Broke, said Graham, is that every item sold has costs $50 or less. This year there will be more than 50 vendors all selling “affordable” handcrafted art, she said.

“It really is the best fair to go to if you want anything in the category of arts — from music, to fine arts, to gifts, to handmade jewelry,” Graham said.

Graham loves being part of Broke because unlike other festivals where artists have separate tents, artists at Broke often share table space. This intimacy allows artists to get to know one another and share ideas.

“It’s great to buy things from the actual artist, and as a vendor it’s really nice to have that face to face experience with people buying your jewelry,” agreed Fuchsia.

VIDEO: Watch Mail the Horse perform in Peterborough during last year's Thing:

Cote, too loves the “cross over” between artists, vendors and visitors.

“I always end up stumbling across a band or musician I’d never heard of,” he said. Cote added that as a musician he “normally” wouldn’t find himself in a “craft fair.” But, last year, at The Thing in the Spring, he and his band sold records and merchandise at Broke.

“It was really nice to be in there. I saw a nine-year-old kid selling hand made comics and he was making money because everyone thought he was adorable and his drawings were good, and there were also people making screen prints that I thought were really cool and screen printing is something I’ve been getting into lately,” Cote said.

When asked to sum up her thoughts on The Thing in The Spring, Graham said simply: “Be prepared for awesomeness.”

This year visitors can purchase a weekend pass for The Thing in the Spring. The weekend pass costs $50, but currently can be purchased online for $25 at

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