The weather held up, and “LakeFest” began the much-heralded Columbia Festival of the Arts on Friday, June 14, 2019. “LakeFest” offers visitors to the Lakeside area of Downtown Columbia, Maryland, a chance to see a great array of artists for free.
I had a chance to visit “LakeFest” for some of the shows and to enjoy the booths of gifted local artists and artisans displaying and selling their works.
On Friday, I was able to catch a bit of School of Rock which features local young talent. I enjoyed their rendition of Elvis’ “Heartbreak Hotel.” I caught the last few songs of DOGO du Togo a group that features a soft African beat. The Bobby Thompson Trio was for that night, at least, a quartet, and perform rock with a little country. They played a great deal of original music and reminded me of the sound of the Doobie Brothers and the Allman Brothers. The last group of the night was The Speakers of the House whose repertoire went from Al Green’s “Love and Happiness” to Steely Dan’s “Reelin’ in the Years”.
Saturday, the sun shined brightly upon the stage at “LakeFest.” I arrived in time that evening to hear the talented Alanna Royale whose belted out some classic R & B with a little soul. It was a little boogey and a little jazz as well, singing the popular “Who’s Gonna Save My Soul.” She was followed by Aztec Sun, a group that reminded me of Bob Marley but with an African flavor.
Sunday, despite the threat of rain all day, the shows continued all afternoon and into the early evening. First, Marielle Kraft’s soft voice entertained us from the stage in a solo performance. She was followed by Ocho de Bastos, a local Latin band that played wonderful dance music from the Latin number, “Despacito” to Neil Diamond’s “I’m a Believer.” The Sidleys followed with a more modern playlist, including an Amy Winehouse song. The “LakeFest” ended in its traditional fashion. First, the Columbia Jazz Band was featured playing jazz standards like, “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy.” The duo of Deborah and Matt Williams joined them. They were a real treat, starting with “It Don’t Mean a Thing” followed by Ms. Williams solo of Billie Holiday’s “God Bless the Child” and Dinah Washington’s (later recorded by Natalie Cole) “What a Difference a Day Makes.” The husband and wife did a wonderful version of Sonny and Cher’s “The Beat Goes On”. Mr. Williams did a solo of “It’s Too Darn Hot” a perfect song as the temperature rose. Finally, the perennial show stoppers, the Glenelg Jazz Ensemble finished the day and the “LakeFest.” These young high school musicians have performed all over the world. They are super talented. Their opening arrangement of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” was spectacular. Their young female vocalist showed a lot of poise as she sang “Beyond the Sea,” a tricky jazz piece. The whole “LakeFest” ended with their rendition of “In the Stone” by Earth, Wind & Fire.
Finally, the perennial show stoppers, the Glenelg Jazz Ensemble finished the day and the “LakeFest.” These young high school musicians have performed all over the world. They are super talented.
My apologies to the groups I missed due to time constraints. They include Mr. Gabe &The Circle of Time All-Stars, Nelly’s Echo, De SanguashinGlon and Six String Soldiers. I am sure they were all fantastic. I also regret that I was not always able to watch other performances in their entirety.
If you missed this years “LakeFest” and all the free performances, you can still take part in the Columbia Festival of the Arts. There are several performances for which you can purchase tickets starting Thursday, June 20. There are also some wonderful films to view. If you can’t afford to buy tickets, there is one more free concert by the Columbia Orchestra on Sunday, June 30 at Symphony Woods at 5:00 PM. (Tickets are free, but it is suggested you get them in advance.) You can get further information about all the upcoming shows and purchase tickets online.
See our Preview article on the Festival as well.
Also, catch our ‘A Quick 5’ interview with Jessica Henkin of ‘Stoop Storytelling Series’ which will be presented at the Smith Theatre, The Horowitz Center at HCC on Thursday, June 20 at 7:00 PM.