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Big Music Feature

All About Artscape

Your Guide to the Best of the Fest

Smokey Robinson
Ray Charles
Ruben Blades
Gary Bartz
Carl Filipiak
Shemekia Copeland

Big Music Issue 2001

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All About Artscape Your Guide to the Best of the Fest | By Lee Gardner

By Lee Gardner | Posted 7/11/2001

Every year City Paper does preliminary coverage hyping the music of Artscape, and every year I feel we haven't done enough. Meanwhile, the Artscape lineup keeps getting better and better, more action-packed, and harder to do justice to in the space allowed by a 100-word Baltimore Weekly pick or within the confines of the Short List. Thanks to the beneficent timing of the Big Music Issue, this year we're able to offer a highly subjective guide to the highlights of this year's fest, and in a handy rip-out-and-fold-up-in-your-pocket format to boot. The three stages are located as follows: the Sun stage sits at the corner of Mount Royal Avenue and Lafayette Street; the Decker stage is located on the grounds of the Maryland Institute, College of Art at the corner of Mount Royal Avenue and Cathedral Street; and the Gordon stage is situated near the corner of Mount Royal and Maryland avenues at the University of Baltimore. Remember your hat and sunscreen, stay away from the funnel cakes, and enjoy the tunes.

Friday, July 13

Carl Filipiak isn't one of those artistic recluses for whom the phrase "a rare performance" was coined. The jazz-fusion guitarist gigs. A lot. Still, there are worse ways to start off Artscape's inaugural evening than with a set of tasty licks from a local lad, which you can do at the Sun stage at 6:45 p.m. As for the headliners, you may face a dilemma. Smokey Robinson (Decker, 8 p.m.) is a bonafide pop legend, a soul crooner of the first water, and a songwriter so gifted that even Gywneth Paltrow can't screw up one of his tunes. On the other hand, Shemekia Copeland (Sun, 8:15 p.m.) is an up-and-comer, despite her impeccable blues pedigree; she's the daughter of the late guitarist Johnny Copeland and just won a 2001 W.C. Handy Award for her latest album, Wicked (Alligator). Her fiery mix of blues and soul might make for a slightly more lively set than one of Smokey's smooth-athons.

Saturday, July 14

Pearlie Homicile cashes in part of her prize this afternoon--the winner of this year's Billie Holiday Vocal Competition performs on the Sun stage at 12:15 p.m. Two more local artists go head-to-head at 1 p.m.: Catonsville-based sitarist Jay Kishor offers a rare local performance on the Gordon stage while jazz drummer and Anig Records label impresario William Goffigan leads a trio on the Sun stage. The uplifting soul/jazz/Caribbean sounds of the fantastic local group Fertile Ground grace the Decker stage at 2 p.m. Speaking of soul/jazz, South African flugelhorn player Hugh Masekela comes to the Decker stage at 3:15 p.m. (suppose he'll play "Grazing in the Grass"?), while Chicago blues belter KoKo Taylor pitches a wang dang doodle on the Sun stage at 3:45 p.m.

Companion Trio has always been one of the leading lights in Baltimore's jazz/free-improv underground, and now that reedsman Evan Rapport is packing his horns off to New York. its local performances are likely to become scarce. Those with adventuresome ears shouldn't miss C3's show at 4:15 p.m. on the Gordon stage. Pomo jazz diva Cassandra Wilson brings her genre-blurring activities to the Decker stage at 5 p.m.

If rocked-up Irish music is more your bag, His Honor, Mayor Martin O'Malley, and his band, O'Malley's March, stand and deliver at 5:30 p.m. on the Sun stage. Baltimore-born jazz saxophonist Gary Bartz returns to town to play all too infrequently, but the Decker stage boasts Bartz leading a quintet at 6:45 p.m. Tonight's lineup ends with another set of dueling headliners: R&B powerhouse Etta James (Decker, 8:15 p.m.) and Cuban-born trumpeter Arturo Sandoval (Sun, 8:30 p.m.). Don't ask me which one's likely to be better. I'd hate to hazard a guess.

Sunday, July 15

Artscape is usually good for at least one set by performers from a highly exotic cultural tradition that most Baltimoreans might otherwise never get to experience. This year's model is the Mohori Ensemble, a Cambodian musical troupe that plays the Decker stage at 12:30 p.m. Local sitar adept Jay Kishor performs again today on the Gordon stage at 1 p.m., while "guit-steel" hot-picker and Ernest Tubb-like balladeer Junior Brown goes ape on a whole different set of strings at the Decker Stage at 2:15 p.m.

The New Orleans tradition of wailing trad jazz comes together with the Jewish tradition of wailing klezmer music in the persons of the New Orleans Klezmer Allstars (Sun, 3:35 p.m.), while the sons of legendary Memphis producer Jim Dickinson raid the distinctive blues and roots sounds of the North Mississippi Hill Country for rocking adventures as the North Mississippi Allstars (Sun, 5:05 p.m.). The man, the myth, the legend, Ray Charles performs at the Decker stage at 5:40 p.m. Saxophonist Karl Denson brings his hard-jamming band Karl Denson's Tiny Universe to the Sun stage at 7:45 p.m., and salsa star Rubén Blades returns from Hollywood to wind things down with an 8:30 p.m. set on the Decker stage.

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