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Hopscotch Festival's free day parties shine

Looking at Hopscotch’s event schedule, you might begin to wonder if festival directors are taking their event-planning cues from Kiss. First, there were promises of rock ‘n’ roll all night. And now you can party during the day, too.

Hopscotch day parties, as these festivities have been termed, will be going on throughout the weekend. Presented by a bevy of local record labels, radio stations, brewing companies, bars and blogs, these parties are actually almost identical to the regular club shows. They’ll be featuring a lineup of mostly local bands, sometimes with free food and drinks. But there’s one important difference: It’s free.

“It’s in the common good, like ‘Hey, here’s this free thing, come sample it,’” said Melissa Thomas, founder of 307 Knox Records in Durham. “And also, that you can leave work at 12 in the afternoon and just go hear some music. I think that’s a great atmosphere.”

Thomas, whose label will be presenting Knox With An X on Thursday, also relishes the opportunity the day parties provide to play musical Santa Claus, gracing patrons with free giveaways. 307 Knox is planning on distributing treats such as a free Hopscotch compilation album and early copies of the new North Elementary and Gray Young records.

Thomas plans on using the party both to have fun and to get the word out about the label’s artists.

“It shows once again that we coexist with a bunch of amazing artists,” Thomas said. “I think we are doing our part to represent not just Durham, but the whole Triangle.”

Kyle Miller, co-founder of Churchkey Records in Durham, has twice the reason to celebrate. Along with a lineup comprising the label’s local favorites like Hammer No More The Fingers and The Dirty Little Heaters, the record label will also be turning three years old.

“Three years isn’t much of a milestone, but we’re psyched for it, to be able to stay in business for three years,” Miller said. “The amount of stuff that’s happened in that time, the people we worked with and the records that we made — I think we do have something really exciting to celebrate.”

And even if you can only make it to the day parties, the familial feeling that Hopscotch engenders between its local and national artists and labels should be palpable.

Martin Anderson, co-founder of Chapel Hill’s Trekky Records, plans to check out the shows of his label’s friends, like Akron/Family, but he also wants everyone to sample artists at his day party, like Brooklyn, NY’s Sharon Van Etten.

“There’s so much good stuff going on around here, like Troika and Shakori,” said Anderson. “But it’s nice to see something beyond the bands from the Triangle, like No Age and Public Enemy and Broken Social Scene. It validates what this area has, and that we have the infrastructure to do something like that, all these great venues and outdoor spaces.

“The southeast doesn’t have a really big independent music festival. I hope this will turn into an annual thing.”

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