Great South Bay Music Fest this weekend

The LI-born group Aeroplane Pageant -- from left, The LI-born group Aeroplane Pageant -- from left, Mike DeLorenzo, Brian Kelly and Tim Watson -- play at The Bell House in Brooklyn. They are set to perform at the 2012 Great South Bay Music Festival in Patchogue this July. Photo Credit: Miriam Rothermel

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The Great South Bay Music Festival, through the comings and goings of various competitors, has steadily grown into Long Island's biggest music festival. This year, it's taking steps to become even bigger.

"We want to be more diverse," said Jim Faith, the festival's co-producer. "We love so many kinds of music. We didn't want this to be just a rock festival or just a jam-band festival. We just want to get to a point where every band is a good band, and we're starting to accomplish that."

Here are some of the main additions to this year's Great South Bay Music Festival, which takes place this weekend at Shorefront Park in Patchogue:

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NEW MUSIC

"We've added a fourth stage this year," Faith said. "There will be a stage for emerging artists to give young talent a chance."

Faith said he has booked some bands that are more experimental, including Long Island's Aeroplane Pageant, which was recently included on the "Occupy This Album" compilation with Willie Nelson, Lucinda Williams and more. "They are a band that I really like but that we maybe wouldn't have booked before because there weren't enough slots," Faith said.

For Aeroplane Pageant singer Brian Kelly, the festival is a chance to build more of a Long Island following while playing a different set than the band normally would. "I think the fit for us is better than maybe it would have been before," said Kelly, who also plans to pay tribute to the late Levon Helm, former drummer for The Band who had signed on to headline the festival before his death from cancer in April. Kelly said he plans to do The Band's "I Shall Be Released" accompanied by his father, John, of Levittown, and his uncle Bill, of Speonk, because they introduced him to Helm's music.

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LIVE ART

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The Long Island Creative Vortex and Studio E will showcase interactive art activities, including a massive canvas and collaborative sculptures that will be built throughout the weekend. Faith said parents should dress their kids in paint-friendly clothes so they can get involved in the "Kidz Art" mural.

CRAFTS FOR SALE

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Because the festival has established itself on many artists' schedules, Faith said, craft vendors from such festivals as Bonnaroo and the High Sierra Music Festival will be selling their wares.

YOU'LL HEAR A SYMPHONY

Though Faith says the festival leans more toward original music than tribute bands, he felt the need to book an orchestra that will perform the music of Led Zeppelin. "I think people will like it when they hear it," he said. "We want to offer a little something for everybody and hope that people will go away liking a style of music they never thought of before."

WHAT Great South Bay Music Festival

WHEN | WHERE 4:30 to 11 p.m. Friday and noon to 11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Shorefront Park, Patchogue

INFO $29.99 daily, $75 for the weekend; 631-331-0808, greatsouthbaymusicfestival.com

DON'T MISS

RED HORSE It's an Americana supergroup -- John Gorka, Lucy Kaplansky and Eliza Gilkyson -- covering each other's songs, as well as classics from Neil Young. (6 p.m. Friday)

MARTIN SEXTON The singer-songwriter from Syracuse, who has told stunning folk stories for years, is touring to support his new "Fall Like Rain" EP. (6:20 p.m. Saturday)

STREETLIGHT CIRCUS The hard-rocking band from Valley Stream, which was on the bill with Queensryche at a Maryland festival in May, is on home turf, promoting its eponymous debut. (4:30 p.m. Sunday)

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