Family Fun Fest: Bands will bring ‘street soul’ and island music to Festival Plaza for Advocates for Children fundraiser


AUBURN — Trumpets, trombones, saxophones and the steel band sounds of the Caribbean will fill the late-afternoon and evening air at Festival Plaza in the downtown on Saturday, June 11.

That’s when Advocates for Children will hold its second free Family Fun Fest from 4 to 6 p.m.

Featured performers will be the Tony Boffa Band and the Tinpanic Steel Band, with a demonstration by Pelletier’s Karate Academy in between.

The Tony Boffa Band has performed throughout Maine for more than 30 years. “Our combination of musical schooling and street soul is rare,” Boffa said. “Our mission is to motivate crowds of all ages.”

The band features a rhythm section of keyboard, guitar, bass and drums, and a three-piece horn section with trumpet, trombone and saxophone. Shawna Haley-Bear has been the featured lead singer since 2002.  “We are a very versatile band,” Boffa said, adding that seven of the eight musicians are lead singers. 

Boffa, a graduate of Cheverus High School and the Berklee College of Music, said he knew at age 15 that music would be his life. While learning the pop tunes of the times, he became intrigued by the improvisational styles of the great bebop players, which influenced what he calls his “natural urge to entertain.”

The Tony Boffa Band will play its first set from 4 to 6 p.m. and again from 7 to 8 p.m.

The Tinpanic Steel Band will be returning to Festival Plaza, fresh from the 2011 New England Steel Drum Festival. “We’re really excited to debut several new tunes this year, three new drummers and new musical director Sarah Dow, band instructor for Auburn schools,” said band member Diane Mawhinney.

Playing island party music, swing and jive, the 12-piece band strives to bring listeners to their feet in the spirit of Caribbean street dances and celebrations. 

“We have found that some of our most popular tunes are swing pieces like ‘In The Mood,” so we’ve recently added a medley of ‘Jump, Jive and Wail’ and ‘Goody Two Shoes’ to keep the crowd boogieing,” she said.

The Tinpanic Steel Band will play from 6 to 7 p.m.

Between each musical act, Pelletier’s Karate Academy demo team of students age 3 to 12 will present “The Art of Okinawan Kenpo Karate.”

“The core of what I teach is the art of Okinawa Kenpo Kobudo Karate-do (Okinawa Kenpo for short),” Pelletier said. This style of karate, which has been passed down from teacher to student since the mid 1700s, includes both empty hand techniques (kata) and the use of traditional weapons (kobudo).

“Food and beverages will be available at minimal costs, along with fun activities for children,” said Advocates for Children Executive Director Betsy Norcross Plourde.

Proceeds from the event will help fund parenting programs for families in Androscoggin County. For more information about this free event or upcoming classes at Advocates for Children, call 783-3990 or visit