The Hartbeat Music Festival has barely skipped a beat since it began in 2018. The annual showcase for dozens of local bands has grown and thrived as a major outdoor event at Hartford’s Mortensen Riverfront Plaza. Even when COVID hit in 2020 the festival went online. Live or virtual, Hartbeat has become known for not just offering a variety of artists and genres but a chance for those musicians to see and get to know each other and sometimes even jam together.
This year the festival, the brainchild of Hartford rockers The Professors of Sweet, Sweet Music (POSSM) is expanding from a day-long Saturday event by adding Friday night. It’s also infusing new energy into the already energetic line-up by adding four bands that were voted into the festival through a series of showcase concerts on the riverfront in July.
“This is a community event, and we wanted everyone to feel a part of the community,” says POSSM’s Earl Henrichon. The whole festival is community-oriented but the early afternoon Saturday programming is particularly family-friendly, Henrichon says, with jazz and a drum corps and children’s activities.
“The energy behind this seems crazy,” Henrichon says. “I’m always nervous before it happens, but then I’m always pleasantly surprised. We want to showcase Hartford and have people enjoy the community atmosphere in a beautiful setting to see some awesome bands.”
There are two stages of music on Friday night from 5 to 9 p.m. and three stages Saturday from noon to 9 p.m. Saturday also features local vendors, 10 food trucks — “from vegan to lobster to BBQ,” Henrichon says — and a beer garden sponsored by Mohegan Sun. “We’ve sold beer before, but never had a beer garden.”
Here’s the full Hartbeat Music Festival schedule for 2022:
5:30 p.m.: Quirky pop singer and songwriter and electric harpist Sean O’Reilly, who does regular live streams of his music and will be playing the Pratt Street Sounds series in downtown Hartford later this month.
6:15 p.m.: The Bargain, a local supergroup of sorts comprising established singer and songwriters Frank Critelli, Shandy Lawson and Muddy Rivers.
7 p.m.: The roots reggae ensemble Prince Negasi & the Souls of Zion.
8 p.m.: The Hartford-based Americana band Among the Acres.
5:30 p.m.: A local hip-hop spectacular with the BAP Pack crew, Tang Sauce, Klokwize, Hydro and RAPoet Self Suffice.
7 p.m.: The Balkun Brothers, the nationally touring Hartford-based rock act whose latest album is “735 Farmington Ave.”
8 p.m.: The neo-soul/jazz/R&B melange The New Mosaic.
12:30 p.m.: Singer and songwriter Ysanne.
1:30 p.m.: The Cat Attic, the folk-rock five-piece featuring mandolinist Richard Worsman.
2:45 p.m.: R& B vocalist A Marquise.
4 p.m.: The Latin Jazz band Goza.
5:30 p.m.: Stephen Peter Rodgers, the accomplished singer and songwriter and former frontman for Mighty Purple.
6:30 p.m.: Hip hop artist and producer Ghazi Omair.
7:45 p.m.: The “New England country music” sound of Jason Ingriselli & the Miles North.
12:20 p.m.: The Sparkle & Fade, who has posted a hilarious video on their Facebook page showing how they’re preparing for this festival gig.
1:15 p.m.: Zikina, the world music band consisting of guitarist and percussionist Mike Cardozo, bassist Roston Kirk, drummer Kade Parkin and Uganda instrumentalist Gideon Ampeire, who has built his own zither and thumb piano.
2:15 p.m.: Soulful pop singer/songwriter Gracie Day with her band The Phantom Limbs.
3:30 p.m.: Joey Batts, the local rapper and bandleader who runs his own hip-hop music festivals in the state every year.
4:30 p.m.: Jake Kulak Band, whose guitarist leader started playing out when he was 13 and is now in his early 20s.
5:40 p.m.: Pop/rock/folk/jam outfit The Professors of Sweet, Sweet Music.
6:45 p.m:: South African-born New Haven resident, singer and songwriter Thabisa.
8 p.m.: Guitarist, singer and songwriter Frank Viele & the Fallout.
12:05 pm: Singer, songwriter and guitarist Michael Suddes.
1 p.m.: Indie rockers The DB Kinney Band.
Our picks for things to do and places to go this weekend
2 p.m.: The neo-soul funk rock of Lush Honey.
3:20 p.m.: Hip-hop artist Ian Matthew.
4:30 p.m.: Keyboard-based pop from Laini & the Wildfire.
5:45 p.m.: HannaH’s Field and their self-described blend of “jam-band, drum-circle, healing-chant, beach reggae, and gypsy folk.”
6:45 p.m.: Blues/R&B/folk act Austin James & the Nomads.
The 2022 Hartbeat Music Festival happens Friday from 5 to 9 p.m. and Saturday from noon to 9 p.m. at Mortensen Riverfront Plaza, 300 Columbus Blvd., Hartford. Admission is free. riverfront.org.
Christopher Arnott can be reached at email@example.com.