Double dose of festivals Celebrations: AFRAM and Caribbean Carnival should keep Baltimoreans singing and dancing all weekend.


September 04, 1997|By Sandra Crockett | Sandra Crockett,SUN STAFF

Talk about a jamming weekend! mtm tyh ffghAFRAM '97 Baltimore will be rocking this weekend with the sounds of contemporary jazz artists Pieces of a Dream, Baltimore-born singers Harmony, the local Sankofa Dance Theater and jazz artist Kim Waters.

And, the Baltimore Caribbean Carnival is happening the same weekend. No need to be in a dilemma -- you can always check out both.


For the fourth year in a row, the AFRAM festival will be held at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. AFRAM begins each day at noon on Sept. 5, 6 and 7 and will last until 10 p.m.

Although AFRAM is a familiar festival to Baltimoreans, having started more than 20 years ago as a showcase for the African-American community, this year's celebration will be a little different because of Baltimore's bicentennial.

"Each year, we honor people in the community," AFRAM chairwoman Julia B. Woodland says. "This year, we are honoring African-Americans who have made a difference in Baltimore throughout the years." Honorees will include the late Sen. Verda Welcome, the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, singer Ruby Glover, cardiologist Levi Watkins Jr. and the late businessman Henry Parks.

More than 400 vendors will be selling their wares, and community groups will be spreading good news about their neighborhoods.

AFRAM began in 1976 and, over the years, it has been held at Hopkins Plaza, Charles Center, Rash Field and Festival Hall. The location at Oriole Park has attracted various acts in recent years. Last year, national acts Monica and Deborah Cox appeared. This year, many performers will be regional acts, including the Burke Family Singers, a group of four generations of an Eastern Shore family, and Harmony, a trio of teen-agers who met at the Baltimore School for the Performing Arts.


If the urge hits you to hear a little island music, scoot right on over to the Baltimore Caribbean Carnival, which is going on its 15th year, says Ken Toppin, one of the festival's organizers.

The first evening, which begins three days of festivities, has been dubbed International Reggae Night.

Reggae star General Grant will take center stage that evening in addition to the bands ACCESS, Strykers Posse and JUDAH, among others.

On Saturday, a street parade will go from Park Circle in Park Heights to Pimlico Race Course.

The track "will be dubbed Carnival City," with steel bands and dancers, he says. Vendors will be there. And there will be a chance to win a trip to Jamaica.

But the music is sure to take center stage.

ACCESS features a husband and wife singing. Sis Gad says her musical background is gospel reggae although the band plays "roots reggae." The band members' roots are diverse. Sis Gad and her husband, Meshack, are from Trinidad, as is the bass man. The band's guitarist is an American from New York. The keyboardist is from Jamaica. The drummer was born in the United States, but his parents are from Trinidad.

Creole, another band, has been around for more than seven years, says Joseph F. Louis, who was born in Haiti. "We play folk Haitian music, which is a blend of jazz and other types of Western influences," says Louis, who is a guitarist and singer.

Strykers Posse is scheduled to perform tomorrow, says Ichelle Cole, the manager who also plays keyboards and sings. The five-member reggae band has been together since 1985, says Cole, who was born in Jamaica.

Twenty masquerade bands from Caribbean nations will take part in the carnival, says Anthony McFarlane, the chairman of the event. Word of mouth about the festival has grown over the years, Toppin says.

"It draws people from all over the East Coast. People will be making bus trips down for the festival," he adds.

What: AFRAM Festival

When: Tomorrow through Sunday, noon to 10 p.m.

Where: Oriole Park at Camden Yards

Tickets: $5 for adults; children under 6 accompanied by an adult are admitted free. Group rates available.

Call: 410-225-7896.

What: Baltimore Caribbean Carnival

When: Tomorrow through Sunday. Friday, 5 p.m.; Saturday a parade will begin at noon on Druid Park Drive (at Park Circle Business Center) and follow Park Heights Avenue to the track; Sunday, 1 p.m. at Pimlico. Festival closes at 10 each night.

Where: Pimlico Race Course

Tickets: Weekend pass is $15, which lets you into every event; $5 single-event admission price. Children under 12 are free. Ticket stubs entitle guests to evening party discounts.

Call: 410-483-6729 or 410-485-9536.

Pub Date: 9/04/97

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