Life is good Raises $1M + The Bar on Music Festivals.

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Words by Julie Stoller
Photos by Kira Doucette

Editor's Note: So much good came out of the two days of this year's Life is good. Congratulations to the planners, volunteers, and of course - to all the artists. We will be sprinkling amazing stage photos from both days of this year's Life is good into the mix all month long in November. Summer 2011 may be gone but it's far from forgotten! - Ryan Spaulding

Life is good, an introduction - Since I am by nature drawn to music filled with melancholia, darkness and angst, I was probably the least appropriate person to cover this event. A celebration of optimism, with uplifting messages conveyed in music and family-oriented activities, to raise money for charity - really? But this was no ordinary fundraiser. One part rock festival and one part country fair, with a healthy dose of motivational weekend retreat, Life is good is absolutely unique. When the dust had settled on this crazy weekend, the more than 20,000 people in attendance (and countless volunteers) had raised $1 million for the Life is good Kids Foundation, a nonprofit committed to helping children overcome life-threatening challenges such as violence, illness and extreme poverty.

When your mission is this good... - "Helping vulnerable children doesn’t need to be painful or heavy,” said Bert Jacobs, chief executive optimist of sponsor Life is good. “The Life is good Festival is a celebration, and we're grateful to everyone who came together to make it happen. Good vibes really can save lives." The concept behind the Life is good Festival was to combine the energy and excitement of an outdoor rock festival with family-friendly activities and charitable fundraising. Last year’s festival raised over $600,000 for the Life is good Kids Foundation. This year, they met their ambitious goal; raising $1 million.

Let's talk about execution - Everything about this weekend was brilliantly conceived and perfectly executed, from the convenient location on Prowse Farm just off the highway in Canton, Mass., to the small details attended to, like catering to the needs of those with kids in tow. Every musical taste was also covered, from The Dirty Dozen Brass Band to songsmith Martin Sexton; Malaysian singer-songwriter Zee Avi to the jazz-funk of Maceo Parker; the supercharged energy of The Hold Steady to the folky-Americana of crowd favorites The Avett Brothers. Soul, gospel, blues, hip-hop, classic rock, R&B, country, 60s girl groups, and The Boston Pops were also proudly represented. Produced in partnership with Superfly Presents (Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival and Outside Lands), this was a very different breed of rock festival.

It began with well-organized parking and shuttle buses, and an easy-to-transverse open field with the two main stages at opposite ends, switching off from one to the other so you didn’t have to miss a thing. Somehow the myriad of family activities, games, informational booths, and a separate Kids’ stage with their own entertainers were all set apart, but within comfortable walking distance. Strategically-placed signs throughout the grounds conveyed key mission statements, positive affirmations, and touches of whimsy. What to even call this? Woodstock for the whole family? A fundraiser for hipsters? Lollapalooza meets Depok Chopra meets the Topsfield Fair?

Selection & Offerings - Life is good featured almost everything imaginable to keep the kids engaged too: interactive sports and arts & crafts; performers with music geared towards children; sack races and seed spitting. If all it became too much, no fear, just head to 'Chillville.'

For us older kids, there were informational booths for ‘green companies’ (sustainable farming, organic foods, a Prius tent), The Martin Jam Tent (an open mic where you could become your own rock star), The Good Show (“tell us why your glass is half full”), a lounge for sports fans to catch up on the games, and oh yes, a most impressive line-up of bands. Stellar, celebratory performances with hopeful, upbeat messages in a dazzling array of genres combined with a communal feeling of good will, coming together for a great cause.

Not unlike Ebenezer Scrooge, who near the end of his story earned his epiphany, I came away from this idyllic utopian vision, deeply moved. Maybe life really IS good. Or at least, there’s potential, when great & creative people come together.

We very much look forward to sharing the photos & reliving the memories of Life is good 2011 with you all month long!


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