Food, Glorious Food and Art and Music: Baltimore’s Gathering of the Arts

Food, glorious food, and art and music. All of my favorite things in 1 place! This was the scene of Baltimore’s Food truck, art and music festival held this past weekend at the Hollywood Diner Food truck park at 400 E. Saratoga St near downtown Baltimore. I had a bit of a health scare earlier this month so I had to take a break from writing to regroup and heal but this was the perfect event for me to jump back into the action. Not perfect for the culinary temptations but definitely what I needed to entertain and motivate me.

Let me start by saying that although Baltimore gets a bad rap in the media, I have gotten nothing but love from the arts community and the folks that run www.artistscompound.com. The organizers of this event, aptly called “The Gathering”, created an eclectic mix of musicians, performance artists, visual artists, DJs and dancers to keep the event exciting for all tastes and ages. The festival location made it a beacon for, let’s say Bmore’s more colorful residents, some of whom clearly had love for the CoCo and that Drank..if you don’t get that reference, ask your kids. LOL. However, the unique mix of artsy folks, military vets and music lovers of all ages and races blended well together. There was the requisite hipster smell of patchouli in the air, but thankfully it was pushed out by someone hitting that good good and of course the delicious smells wafting out of the food trucks. The food options were definitely for “cheat day” only, especially for those of us watching our diets. The cheating was definitely worth the carbs! The GrrChe and Greek on the Street trucks had succulent selections like Greek fries tossed with olive oil, feta and parsley or a Jalapeño popper grilled cheese on sourdough. Since I was already in cheat mode, I even got grown and sampled a cocktail, a Strawberry Lemonade Vodka Punch. I couldn’t hang and passed it off to my partner but, the few sips I drank were quite tasty!

The selection of artwork was interesting but I was most drawn to a slowly sunburning Mike Ruzika and his son selling gemstones and crystals, custom cutting them to your preference right on site. I don’t think I have ever seen a vendor bring his stonecutter equipment to an event. Dude was serious about that thing and we got into a great conversation about crystals and their different healing properties. He even schooled me to something called “record keeper crystals” which are purported to contain wisdom and energy from the geological events that formed them. I am always drawn to unique information and his gems were beautiful, I will definitely be contacting him for some new jewelry pieces.

Now to the most important thing…the music.

There were 2 stages of musicians and DJs covering the gamut of genres from folk to Baltimore club music and everything in between. I started on the left side stage, cause it was closest to the food. Yep, being the foodie I am.  The performances consisted of a few bluesy folk groups whose music evoked the political mood of the country surrounding this upcoming election. The standouts, in my opinion were, the “Dido-esque” songstress Sara Hurwitz who alternated between the piano and acoustic guitar to convey her political angst. She kinda lost me though when she proclaimed that she does not vote…I mean isn’t that part of the problem? Another favorite was Conor Brendan and the Wild Hunt, whose voice was simply sublime. He reminded me of a mix of Adam Levine and John Mayer. A special shout out to the belly dancer Liz Slaterbeck and acrobatic dancer Lindsey Golden, whose eye catching costumes and performances added yet another dimension to this festival.

So, being the Hip Hop head that I am, I was ecstatic to see the DJs setting up on the second stage. I mean I was cool with the other music, but well, you know my steez. DJ Stylo got it started spinning a hot house set, until I messed up his groove by engaging him in a conversation about blending beats. LOL, Sorry dude, but you still worked it. However, my new favorite DJ, Styletto shut it DOWN with her set! She started it out easy with some current joints but then she slid into the Caribbean/Afrobeat set and I damn near lost my mind! She hit the Major Lazer, “Bumaye Watch out Fi Dis”, Sean Paul’s One Wine and then my current theme song, Rihanna’s Work. She had the whole crowd wining down to the ground…homeless, senior citizens and the youth going crazy. Of course she had to slip in some classic MJ and Crystal Waters for the old house heads in the crowd…yo, Styletto slayed Period. Let’s just say I got my steps in that day, despite the doctor’s orders to take it easy. I just can’t resist a good wining song, it must be the Trini in me.  Bmore Dance group took over the end of the evening with some Bmore style house dancing and B-boying. All in all, I must say this was a wonderful event, no drama and everyone unified by music, art and community love. Looking forward to the next Artists Compound event.

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