BEST BETS: McCove to spread Happiness at Camden festival

Dover native and R&B/soul singer Kevin McCove will perform Saturday at the Happiness Project Music Festival at Brecknock Park in Camden. (Submitted photo)

Kevin McCove believes in the power of music.

“Music is a great way to spread positivity. It’s a good way to get people together and be social,” said the Dover native.

And that’s part of the reason why the soul/R&B musician will take part in Saturday’s fourth annual Happiness Project Festival at Brecknock Park in Camden from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

The event promotes community organizations, placing an emphasis on mental health awareness. There will be 10 musical acts performing throughout the day, as well as food trucks, local vendors and nonprofit groups sharing information on what services they provide. It is free to attend and is a family-friendly event.

Along with social power of music, Mr. McCove also believes in its healing attributes as well.

“So often, people with mental health issues turn to music either as an indulgence or an escape. When you’re feeling really sad, you can listen to it to alter your mood and kind of dive right in,” he said. “So to tie the two together like this is really cool.”

Mr. McCove, a 2007 graduate of Dover High School and 2012 alumni of the University of Delaware, participated in one other Happiness Project Festival and has also traveled with the Happiness Project to entertain patients at A.I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington.

“I’m a strong believer in giving back to the kids in the community,” he said.

His attachment to music began in fifth grade while singing in the choir at William Henry Middle School in Dover. His first solo came, he recalls, when he sang The Backstreet Boys’ “It’s Gotta Be You” at a DARE graduation ceremony at the school.

Years later, he would go on to open for The Backstreet Boys, along with such notables as Nicki Minaj, Billy Joel and Dave Matthews Band.

He wrote his first song called “Count Me Out” in his junior year of high school and sold it for use in a public service announcement about abstinence. In junior high, he also taught himself how to play piano.

He entered college, majoring in biological science with his sights set on becoming a doctor.

“But I went through the fall semester and winter semester feeling really empty,” he said.

“And I was trying to figure out ‘Why do I feel like this?’ I realized that for the first time since I was a kid, I wasn’t doing any music. That’s what I was missing.”

Crediting very supportive parents, Mr. McCove decided to switch majors to music. However, there was one problem.

“I couldn’t read music at all. In order to test into the program, you have to be able to read music,” he said.

“But the interim chair at the time said if I learned to read music over the summer, he would give me a chance. So I took an online course and tested into the program in the fall.”

Despite getting degrees in music management and music education, Mr. McCove says it’s “crazy how what I do now is so much different than what my degrees are about.”

Jocelyn Faro and The Ragazzi will co-headline Saturday’s festival. (Submitted photo)

Rather than becoming a music teacher or going the traditional route, Mr. McCove was interested in the business behind it all.

“I gave them some pretty good pushback. I would say ‘Hey, can we not learn music from 500 years ago?’” he said.

He became more interested in licensing and publishing music and now consults with people eager to learn that side of it as well. In fact, he travels to schools across the area giving talks to aspiring musicians on how they can better own their own work.

“I like to equip them with ways they can go about working for themselves rather than someone else,” he said. “Even at a young age, there’s nothing stopping them from making money.”

Speaking to every school in the Capital School District and beyond, another part of his program is putting on a concert and charging $3 per ticket. He donates all of the money back to the school.

Having performed at area venues such as Dover Downs’ Fire & Ice in years past, Mr. McCove said he hasn’t performed too much recently aside from a weekly piano gig at the Hotel duPont in Wilmington.

“This will be a pretty rare chance to come see me. It should be fun,” he said.

Mr. McCove is set to perform at 12:45 p.m.

He will co-headline the event with rock band Jocelyn Faro & The Ragazzi from Annapolis, Maryland and Pennsylvania pop duo Danielle & Jennifer.

Other Delaware performers include Amy Spampinato and The Daddy Jam Band, Kelly Lynn Dixon, Caroline Hermance and Single Origin.

Additional performers from outside of Delaware include Annapolis rock band Brothers Clai, and New Jersey singer/songwriters Ashley McKinley and Brianna Vacca.

The previous three Happiness Project Festivals were held in Georgetown, Smyrna and Milford.

“It’s exciting to have this event in Camden at Brecknock Park,” co-organizer Jason Burlew said.

“We’ve been talking with Kent County Parks & Recreation for some time about how we could come together and bring something like this to Brecknock. They have been awesome to work with and this is going to be a great start to something we can build upon and hopefully make this the home of The Happiness Project Music Festival moving forward.”

Food trucks Truck It and Between the Bunz will be on hand. Some of the area organizations confirmed are Brandywine Counseling, ContactLifeline, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention–Delaware Chapter, Ronald McDonald House of Delaware, The Inspiring Project, American Lung Association and the Brain Injury Association of Delaware.

“We want families to feel welcome and want everyone to bring chairs, bring blankets, lay them out, kick back and relax and enjoy the best music you’ll find anywhere,” Mr. Burlew said.

For more information about The Happiness Project Music Festival, visit www.facebook.com/happinessprojectmmh.

Folk festival upcoming

Speaking of music festivals, Delaware Friends of Folk recently announced the lineup for their 27th annual Delmarva Folk Festival.

It will be held Friday and Saturday, Sept. 28 and 29 on the festival grounds along Downs Chapel Road near Hartly.

Friday will feature the finals of the 12th annual Delmarva Folk Hero contest and Saturday provides a lineup of folk, blues, old-time and bluegrass, along with workshops, special kids activities, and craft and food vendors featuring beer from local brewers. Weekend tent and RV sites will be available too.

A number of Delmarva artists and several from southeastern Pennsylvania will take the stage, beginning with current Delmarva Folk Hero Tom Hench as he hosts the finals of the Folk Heroes contest beginning at 7 p.m. Sept. 28. Six acts selected by audience vote at the July and August Friends of Folk open mic preliminaries will take the stage and the audience that evening will select the new Delmarva Folk Hero.

The music resumes Sept. 29 at noon with a set from the Delmarva Folk Hero winner from the night before.

Then longtime festivalgoer Amy Duckett Wagner’s emergent solo career will put her on the festival stage for the first time. The energetic Celtic and old-time duo Kindred Spirits represent Maryland’s Eastern Shore and the afternoon portion concludes with a 3 p.m. set from festival favorites Sand Creek.

The evening segment begins at 5 p.m. with the Delaware County, Pennsylvania trio Katherine Rondeau and the Show. Chris English and his son will appear as the Chris English Duo.

New to the festival, but not to anyone from Kent County, Smyrna resident Sol Knopf will perform his original songs starting at 7 p.m. From Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, The Megan Cary Trio will make their first appearance in Kent County. Concluding the evening will be the return of old-time and bluegrass band Cold Chocolate.

Advance tickets can be purchased in person at Parke Green Galleries in Dover or online at www.delfolk.org. Before Sept. 28, tickets are $15 for members of Delaware Friends of Folk and $20 for nonmembers. Tickets at the gate on Saturday will be $30 for everyone and admission for the Friday night Folk Heroes contest will be $7 for all.

Sandcastle contest

If you find yourself down at the beach on Saturday, Delaware Seashore State Park will host its annual sandcastle contest starting at 9:30 a.m. Thirty teams, totaling around 100 people, are expected to participate.

In addition to the sandcastle building action, hands-on, beach-themed activities will be offered for kids.

The contest will take place at the South Inlet Day Area beach, near the bathhouse. Judging begins at 1 p.m. and prizes will be awarded shortly thereafter. The contest is free to enter, with park entry fees in effect. Pre-registration is not required.

For more information, visit destateparks.com, or call the Indian River Life-Saving Station at 302-227-6991.

Fair warning

This year’s Delaware State Fair is less than a week away, starting Thursday and going until July 28.

The Delaware State News has you covered with three special programs before the fair and full coverage throughout. We hope you saw last Sunday’s program and hope you will enjoy this Sunday’s edition and one more on Wednesday.

Also, in next week’s Finally Friday! section, look for an exclusive interview with comedian/ventriloquist Jeff Dunham, set to perform at the fair on July 23.

Now showing

New to theaters this weekend is Dwayne Johnson in the action-adventure “Skyscraper” and the animated sequel “Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation.”

On DVD and download starting Tuesday is Dwayne Johnson in “Rampage,” the Amy Schumer comedy “I Feel Pretty,” the horror film “Truth or Dare,” the comedy “Super Troopers 2” and the animated “Isle of Dogs.”

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

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