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Tomorrow through Sunday

July 25, 2002|By Alexa James | Alexa James,Sun Staff

Getting the best of the fest - your way

What kind of Artscape festival-goer are you?

A weekend warrior: "Bring it on, baby! I'm ready to see all the big names and then some."

A freewheeling wanderer: "I'll just wing it when I get there."

Or a jaded veteran: "I'll go only if there's something new."

The three-day free festival of visual, literary and performing arts can handle you, without a doubt.

Beginning tomorrow and continuing through Sunday, Baltimore's 21st annual Artscape sends forth into the Mount Royal "cultural corridor" theater groups, dance troupes, musicians, disc jockeys, visual artists, performance artists, authors, poets, filmmakers, craft vendors, food vendors and lots more.

Yes, yes, yes, Artscape has something for everyone. And we've got plenty of tips on how you can make the most of it, according to your festival-going attitude.

Bring it on!

You weekend warriors go by the schedule, plotting three-day forays that hit all the headliners. You see the 24 hours of the festival as a chance to soak up nearly 50 concerts, 16 literary events, six international dance performances, a one-act opera, a slew of visual-art exhibits, performances by two dozen DJs, and an "art" car show.

For you festival overachievers, here's a handful of can't-miss events. Plan carefully, because the following acts will only appear once during the festivities.

Tomorrow night, old-school funk fixtures Kool & the Gang and the Ohio Players will jive on the Decker Stage. The Players topped the charts in 1975 with "Love Rollercoaster," which climbed to No. 1 again in 1996 when the Red Hot Chili Peppers covered the track. Other '70s favorites by the Players include "Jive Turkey" and "Funky Worm."

Kool & the Gang iced the cake with the No. 1 hit "Ladies' Night" in 1979, and followed it with songs such as "Celebration" and "Cherish" in the '80s.

Make a note that the Hispanic rockers Los Lobos are appearing tomorrow on the Sun Stage. The band experienced explosive commercial success with La Bamba, won a Grammy for the Desperado soundtrack and two additional Grammys for recordings that showcased its signature mix of traditional Latino, electric and classic rock.

Mayor Martin O'Malley's Irish rock band, O'Malley's March, is another winner. Here's yet another chance to see Baltimore's mayor wailing on a guitar in a sleeveless T-shirt -- tomorrow on the Sun Stage.

R&B hybrid India.Arie, who received seven Grammy nominations after the release of her debut album Acoustic Soul, will entertain the crowd with her original blend of hip-hop, Motown and blues Saturday on the Decker Stage. Arie will be preceded by soulstress Me'Shell Ndegeocello, Japanese-Ameri-can jazz-rock instrumentalists Hiroshima, and South American electronic engineers Karsh Kale.

Also on Saturday, stop by the Sun Stage to hear Terri Kee, this year's Billie Holiday Vocal Competition winner, folk artist Dar Williams, rockers Southern Culture on the Skids, and the Creole dance cuts of Buckwheat Zydeco.

Sunday's Decker Stage lineup includes Mickey Hart, the former percussionist for the Grateful Dead, and the reggae styling of Steel Pulse.

The Sun Stage will showcase Latin jazz pianist Eddie Palmieri and gospel music by the Choir Boyz and Kia Heath on Sunday.

In between concerts on Saturday, you can take in the Urban Film Series screening of Maestro, a history of today's dance-music scene, at Theatre Project. On Sunday, catch one of two performances by the Bal-timore Opera Company, also at Theatre Project. The troupe will present The Music Shop, a contemporary comedy by Richard Wargo.

Juggling the one-show-only marquee attractions will take stamina, buckets of lemonade or beer and one heck of a day planner. But you, weekend warrior, are ready, willing and more than able.

Game plan?

What game plan?

Want to just wing your visit to Artscape? There is plenty to do at any time on any day. In fact, the festival can be quite intriguing on a whim.

Forget the timetable and just see what's out there. Wander down the north side of Mount Royal Avenue, where 35 local institutions will operate information booths.

Drop in on this year's Artists' Market. It's bigger than ever, showcasing the work of 141 vendors.

Check out the various international dance performances on Saturday and Sunday afternoon. Acts include Step Afrika, Footworks and groups representing El Salvador, Angola and Polynesia.

All along Mount Royal Avenue, enjoy the sounds of DJs from local clubs and marvel at the urban art forms of Loco Motion, an outdoor exhibit that includes spray murals and stencils, guerrilla sculpture and advertising subversion.

Don't feel like traveling the entire site? Let the artists come to you. Strolling street-theater performers such as the Talented Jodi, Jerry Brown, the Unicycling Lady and Jim Frank (with his flea circus) will circulate around the grounds.

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