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Folk Festival Draws Hundreds in Takoma Park

Takoma Park Folk Festival Logo

TAKOMA PARK – Hundreds of Takoma Park residents gathered Sunday afternoon for the city's annual folk festival to celebrate cultural diversity.

"Today's event is terrific, one, we have perfect weather for it, second we have amazing organizers who have taken up the planning of the folk festival this year and they've done an amazing job," said Takoma Park Mayor Kate Stewart. "It appeals to all different tastes," she added.

Set on the grounds of Takoma Park Middle School, the festival attracted musicians, dancers, and artists from across the region who displayed their talents and crafts to an observant crowd that strolled between booths and stages.

"I think it's terrific, the music is good, people seem to be enjoying themselves, the weather is perfect, and hopefully next year it's going to be bigger, bolder, and stronger," said 40-year Takoma Park resident and Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot.

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Baby we all live in a reggae Yellow Dubmarine

DubmarineYellow Dubmarine performing at Strathmore AMP. PHOTO BY MATT HOOKE  As soon as Yellow Dubmarine started their set with a cover of The Beatles “Norwegian Wood,” you could tell this was not your average tribute band. With horns replacing George Harrison’s distinctive sitar intro, and the songs’ folksy atmospherics replaced by a steady reggae pulse, the audience Friday at Strathmore AMP quickly piled onto the dance floor to groove to Beatles classics reimagined as reggae jams.

“It was just an idea that came to us one day,” said bassist Aaron Glazer. “We started with just four people and then grew, with percussion and horns, and it took on a life of its own.”

The seven-piece band featured a three-piece horn section, along with a rhythm section of guitar, bass, drums, hand percussion, and keyboard. This extensive lineup allowed them to vary their arrangements throughout the night.

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Takoma Park record label fosters homegrown talent

Tired of being forced to relinquish artistic and creative control to major labels, Grammy-winning producer and Takoma Park native Charlie Pilzer decided to forge his own path. He founded Azalea City Recordings in 1996.

For Pilzer, the label gives his job as a recording engineer and producer a more personal touch.

“I’m immersed in music hours and hours every day. I’ve worked on well over 2000 albums. The cool thing about the label is that it keeps it on a personal level. It doesn’t become a factory to me,” said Pilzer.

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Daymé Arocena brings modern Cuban sounds to Strathmore AMP

Dayme Arocena1Afro-Cuban vocalist Daymé Arocena (center) with bassist Rafael Aldama (left), and drummer Raul Herrera (right). PHOTO BY MATT HOOKE   “Give these people more alcohol,” yelled Afro-Cuban vocalist Daymé Arocena in response to the quietly seated crowd at Strathmore AMP on Friday.

In the end, her pleas worked, and the audience got out of their seats en masse to groove to Arocena’s unique take on Cuban music.

“I’m not trying to make something brand new, I’m just trying to follow my sense,” said Arocena. “I’m from the 21st century. My music isn’t going to sound like what was made 50 years ago; it’s going to sound how I sound.”

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Brews and beat shine at first ever record fair in Silver Spring

RECORD FAIR PICTURE 1Vendor Dave Hoffer stands in front of his records. PHOTO BY MATT HOOKE   SILVER SPRING — Barrels of beer were covered with vinyl records, while organizer and c, played dance tracks from the top of a fermenter at the first ever Silver Spring Record Fair on Sunday at Denizens Brewing Company.

“It’s a way to spread the love of vinyl around Montgomery County, to bring folks into records together to listen to good music, have some beers, and buy some records,” said Megan, who was the organizer of the event.

The event lasted for five hours and featured 20 vendors and six different DJs who spanned many different genres. Three of them, Bobby Babylon, Leon City Sounds, and Megan himself, mainly played world music and reggae.

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Singer-songwriter uses real life tragedy as inspiration

Craig Cummings PhotoCraig Cummings (left) and bassist Greg Hardin (right) performing at the Gaithersburg Arts Barn. COURTESY PHOTO BY MAX HORAN   GAITHERSBURG — Inspired by friends who were forced to redefine themselves after the end of a relationship, D.C. area singer-songwriter Craig Cummings sang about the joys and downfalls of love in the Gaithersburg Arts Barn on Saturday to celebrate the release of his new album “Gone Baby Gone.”

The seven-track, 27-minute-long album, issued on Takoma Park’s Azalea City label, tells the story of a man dealing with a long-term relationship falling apart. The album shows all facets of the relationship, from the man's first attempts to win the unnamed woman’s love to the aftermath of the breakup.

“I was running into people that had been in relationships that were ending, and they were struggling with how to be alone after all that time. They were asking themselves, ‘How do I redefine myself as a person without the context of a relationship?’” said Craig.

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Local station celebrates a year of local passionate programs

Marika Partridge first became passionate about radio when she stumbled upon a community radio station in Alaska while working as a cartographer. Now 32 years later and after 16 years as the director of NPR’s All Things Considered, Partridge, on the 16th, is celebrating the one-year anniversary of WOWD-LP Takoma Park 94.3FM, the radio station she founded.

“I can walk over to a radio station, open the door and get on the air," Said Partridge. "It’s as if some angel designed my retirement plan for me.”

Partridge, who retired from NPR to take care of her autistic child, first had the idea for local DC radio after hearing about the Prometheus Project, a non-profit organization focused on building low-powered radio stations.

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Fringe festival has enough for everyone to find a niche of pure fun

Only five more days remain in the vast, multifaceted, and overwhelming (in a good sense) Capital Fringe Festival 2017.

Though only in its 12th year, the annual event founded by artist and community organizer Julianne Brienza seems to have been around forever.

Its goal according to the web site, is “expanding audiences’ appetites for independent, Fringe theatre, music, art, dance, and unclassifiable forms of live performance and visual art – and serving as a catalyst for cultural and community development.”

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Local artist Raul Midón captures all that jazz

Raul MidonBlind musician Rául Mídon performs at Bethesda Blues and Jazz. PHOTO BY MATT HOOKE  BETHESDA — Raul Midón, midway through his concert Thursday night at Bethesda Blues and Jazz, showed off his ability to play bongos, guitar, and sing at the same time.  The crowd erupted in applause, and people grabbed their phones to record the feat.  Raul, however, didn’t see the flashing of cameras, or the cheering faces of his audience, because he is blind.  

Midón has been blind since birth. However, despite this he picked up music at a young age, playing drums at age four, guitar at age six.

“It gives me a different perspective,” Midón said when asked about his blindness, “People look at a crowd and think it’s this type of crowd or that type of crowd, but I just feel it.”

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There’s some “Dangerous Curves” here

unnamed 1 The band Dangerous Curves performs at Hershey’s Bar and Grill.   PHOTO BY MARK POETKER  GAITHERSBURG — By day John Brian Jameson works as an arborist in Montgomery County. By night Jameson trades his work gloves for leather ones, as he fronts the hard rock band Dangerous Curves. The band celebrated the release of their self-titled debut album, Saturday at Hershey’s Bar and Grill in Gaithersburg.                                                                                  

Ten of the eleven songs on the album are original.

“I’ve written hundreds of songs since I was a kid. I tried to share them, but it never worked until now,” said Jameson. “We have something here that fits together.”

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