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Saturday in the Park

Stone Soul Picnic, Druid Hill Park, Aug. 14

Jefferson Jackson Steele
Layla Hathaway chases away the gray at Druid Hill Park.

By Jason Torres | Posted 8/18/2004

A drizzly August morning really lowers your expectations. If you packed up the fam that dreary day anyway and stumble through Druid Hill Park, you were lucky enough to catch one of the last bits of summer hotness in town. There was no better way for an R&B fan to spend an overcast afternoon than at the Radio One Stone Soul Picnic. The vibe was chill: Druid Hill was transformed into a giant family cookout. And not the lame kind where your uncle gets drunk and embarrasses everyone—the kind your best friend throws, where the people aren’t really your blood kin, but everyone’s so cool and laid back that you’re like, “Hell yeah I’ll have a hot dog”—excuse me, hot dug—and you gobble enough funnel cake to make Dr. Atkins roll over in his grave.

Despite the crappy weather, folks came out heavy; the park was choked with people. Spectators were encouraged to bring coolers and lawn chairs, and many did just that. Aside from the eating and buying and selling, we came to catch a glimpse of some live music, hosted by a slew of local radio personalities such as Porkchop, who whipped the crowd into a frenzy by playing some of 92Q’s playlist (which doesn’t suck as bad when it’s that loud), and encouraging all within earshot to drop down and get their eagle on, not to mention throwing their hands in the air and wave them as if nothing else at that time gave them any reason to be worried about anything.

Few of the actual performers disappointed, save alt-R&B crooner Van Hunt, whose acoustic set lulled most of the crowd to sleep, even though he played his hit “Dust.” Hot song, good artist, but not the right venue for an unplugged set. Paula Campbell showed up, singing, selling CDs, and promoting a new play she’s in. New Orleans R&B diva trainee Teedra Moses shined. American IdolŘalum and Gaithersburg native Tamyra Gray did her thing. Donny’s kid Lalah Hathaway came through, as did the awesome Miss “didn’t I blow your mind this time” Regina Belle. Boney James rode the wave of his new album, Pure. And the always dope SOS Band, which has way more hits than you remember, provided the soundtrack to an all around pleasant Saturday afternoon. Baltimore, we should do this more often.

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