Music lovers will unite in a grassroots cultural collaboration in Midtown Baltimore during the third annual Baltimore Rhythm Festival on Oct. 1.
From noon to 6 p.m., people can enjoy stage performances, drum circles, and workshops at Lovely Lane Church on St. Paul Street. All afternoon events are free and open to the public. There will be a ticketed evening concert at 7:30 p.m.
The Baltimore Rhythm Festival offers free performances, drum circles and workshops like the one this young lady participated in. (Courtesy photo)
The Baltimore Rhythm Festival started in 2014 as a revival and reinvention of the movement started by The Baltimore International Rhythm and Drumming Society (BIRDS) in 1995 that sought to connect people through rhythm and bring peace through music.
In conjunction with the Maryland State Arts Council, Free Fall Baltimore, Strong City Baltimore and various other nonprofit organizations, the Baltimore Rhythm Festival continues the spirit of community through positive and socially conscious performances.
“We have tried to put together something that blends really accomplished and world class music and dance with just an open invitation to participation,” Rory Turner, the festival’s program director, told the AFRO. “Having space and time for people to just get together and jam, to find the groove and see where it goes.”
The “Freefall Afternoon” is the main event and has an outside stage and an inside stage. Outside will feature streetbased drum traditions from Japan, Puerto Rico, Brazil and West Africa with performances by Miyako Taiko, Cultura Plenera, Farafina Kan Junior Company and the Bele Bele Collective.
There will be a children’s corner with arts and crafts, and a “people’s playground” which invites people to come and share their talents. People are encouraged to bring their drums which can be left at the festival’s drum check. There will also be over two dozen vendors selling food, jewelry, fashion and, of course, drums.
On the inside stage will be a variety of multicultural singers and musical performances like Arabic drumming, Black American Indian songs by 3 Generationz, a performance by Grammy-nominated Souhail Kaspar and a world percussion set by Tom Teasley. There will also be workshops offered by musicians that are on a first come-first served basis.
“A big thing for us is diversity,” Turner said. “To have music of different cultures, to make a case, really, there is a connection that’s fundamental to us as creatures, as beings. We all have hearts that beat, and our heart beats make a rhythm.”
The Evening Concert will feature performances by Baltimore’s Sankofa Dance Theater, Amadou Kouyate playing the Kora and Bomani Armah with Immaletchufinish delivering creative social commentary through hip-hop. “We’re in the time where there’s a lot of forces trying to push people apart,” Turner said. “I think it’s really important not that we forget who we are and where we come from, but that we find ways that we can connect.”