What is Somer Fest? Think of it as a variety show: It’s rap, it’s magic, it’s comedy.
Zoë Reiches and Stephond Goler—a married couple and co-curators of Somer Fest—have been putting on their variety shows for years under the moniker “Thorpe Street Presents…” Reiches is a semi-professional, part-time magician, and Goler moonlights as the rapper Sur5ILL.
The couple has many friends in the magic and music worlds, friends who have donated their time to put on shows everywhere from the Lilypad to the Rockwell to Thorpe Street. Profits from the shows go toward building a school at the New Life International Orphanage in Ghana, where Reiches volunteered while living in the country for part of high school. Reiches and Goler have raised more than $38,000 for the project.
Somer Fest is the couple’s latest endeavor—so big that Reiches tells her husband that this pet project is akin to his own, personal wedding. Somer Fest will take over ArtFarm on Aug. 18 from 12 to 5 p.m.
“It’s a little raw and rough around the edges, but we like that sort of thing,” Goler says of ArtFarm.
People can catch performances from Oompa, Lunchbagg, THELASTGEKKO, Sur5ILL, and others, or comedy from Nonye Brown-West, Kofi Thomas, and Ian Rich. Ian Rich will also show off his magic, along with Reiches.
Reiches explains that she and Goler curate the shows to keep ahold of people’s attention.
“The standard format we’ve been using is almost vignette style, or speed variety show style,” she says. “We tend to not have someone on stage playing one type of music for any longer than 15 to 20 minutes, because there’s going to be a 10-minute comedy act behind them and an eight-minute juggling act, and then a five-minute magic routine, and then another 10 minutes of a totally different style of music.”
Goler notes that the “Thorpe Street Presents…” shows have carved out a space for rap and hip-hop in a metro area that has a reputation for being unwelcoming to hip-hop.
“In the Greater Boston area, the reception to hip-hop not been great … In trying to reach out to various venues, there have been a myriad of futile efforts to perform,” Goler says. “Instead of sulking and feeling bad for myself, and feeling discouraged, I’ve tended to pull myself up by my bootstraps, and figure out a way around it. I can’t be shunned from my own shows, so that’s part of how we started to get into the variety show scene.”
Goler and Reiches have partnered with several local organizations for the event—among them Bow Market, which will be sending some of its food vendors, Bon Me, and Down the Road Brewing Company.
The Somerville Arts Council is also a partner for Somer Fest. “The Somerville Arts Council is excited to have a variety of groups producing festivals at ArtFarm this summer and fall with support from the Council,” Special Events Manager Nina Eichner wrote in a statement. “We’re excited about Somer Fest’s mix of music, magic, and comedy. We’re pleased to support several independent arts producers to program innovative new work at ArtFarm this season.”
Somer Fest will run at ArtFarm (10 Poplar St.) on Aug. 18 from 12 to 5 p.m. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased here.