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The Rockford Files: Freedom Fair music

Tacoma's annual Fourth of July festival

Steve Cooley and the Dangerfields perform at 5 p.m. July 4 at Jack Hyde Park. Photo courtesy of stevecooleyblues.com

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If you are a loyal attendee of Tacoma's Fourth of July festival, Freedom Fair, you may have had a bit of a scare last year when you heard the rumors. Prior to last year's annual celebration on Tacoma's Ruston Way - featuring live music, food vendors, a car show, and an annual visit from military air machines - many were speculating that it would be the last. With no title sponsor at the time, the non-profit Tacoma Events Commission was struggling to raise enough funds to continue putting on what is the largest air and fireworks show on the west coast.

But despite these vicious allegations, Tacoma's Freedom Fair goes on (although the air show won't include military aircraft due to sequestration). Thanks to the hard work of the TEC, the community will again enjoy what has become a summer staple in the South Sound. And this year will bring us a number of notable musical acts.

The Music by the Bay Stage in Jack Hyde Park will feature a performance from The Groovetramps. The bluesy, soulful and even jazzy music from members Joseph Barton and Melanie Owen will appeal to many, particularly those who enjoy the drive of bands like Heart and Fleetwood Mac. The band's 4-4:45 p.m. set will be directly followed by Steve Cooley and the Dangerfields. Equally bluesy with guttural guitar tones and fluttering keys, Steve Cooley has been performing and recording music since the late '60s. Having opened for blues legends Muddy Waters, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Robert Cray, Cooley and his fellow bluesmen are a seasoned act whose performance alone will make attending the Freedom Fair worth it.

Continuing in the blues vein, Foxley will hit the Worthy Music Ministries stage in Dickman Mill Park at 3:30 p.m. Members Bryan and Bonnie Foxley have been South Sound musicians for many years, and their original music has been recognized with international airplay. The band has now become a family affair, with the addition of sons Austin and Collin as well as Austin's wife, Karen.

And what Freedom Fair would be complete without some five-part harmonies? Barbershop quartet Upward Bound in the Fifth Dimension will take the stage in Dickman Mill Park at 5:30 p.m. Performing barbershop-style songs as well as gospel, the members will be joined by guests Natalie White and Krystle Pyette for this Fourth of July performance.

Though I could only give my readers a heads up about a few of the scheduled acts, there will be live music throughout the entire event, including something for every taste. Join your fellow Tacoma community members in this annual celebration, and donate, volunteer, or do whatever you can to ensure this beloved event will flourish for years to come.

LINK: Back to Beale Street blues competition at Freedom Fair

LINK: Freedom Fair program

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