A musical lineup with no scrubs: TLC to headline Artscape 2018 in Baltimore

Girl group TLC, reggae legends Toots and The Maytals and blues rocker ZZ Ward will be the headline performers at this year’s Artscape, set for July 20-22 in the area surrounding Charles Street and Mount Royal Avenue.

TLC will bring its distinctive brand of R&B to the Artscape stage at 7:30 p.m. July 20. Jamaica’s Toots and The Maytals, pioneering reggae performers who have been at it since the early 1960s, are on for 7:30 p.m. July 21. Ward, a native of Pennsylvania whose hits have included “Put the Gun Down” and “Last Love Song,” will close the festival at 5:30 p.m. July 22.

In a departure from recent history, this year’s Artscape — still billed as “America’s largest free arts festival” — will feature no specific overriding theme.

“The more we thought about it, we thought it would be kind of fun, it would be interesting to see,” Kathy Hornig, who directs the festival for the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts, said of the decision to go theme-less this year. “I think everyone will be pleasantly surprised by how much creativity was unleashed by taking a year off from having a theme.”

New at this year’s Artscape will be July 20’s Youth Day, focusing on performances and visual art by young people, including a 4:30 p.m. concert by the Cardinal Shehan Choir.

Also new this year, a “Silent Disco” in the 1300 block of Mount Royal Ave. will offer headphones to attendees and offer the prospect of watching as scores of people dance to music only they can hear.

The Squonk Opera’s “Pneumatica” will bring a mix of loud music and inflatables (including one that’s 40 feet tall) to 1704 N. Charles St.

Younger Artscape attendees will have their own spaces at the festival, with art and performances created especially for them. Kidscape and Teenscape will be located at Pearlstone Park, Cathedral and Preston streets.

The Guardian Dance Company's “Dance Camp,” in the 1300 block of N. Charles St., will offer nightly social dances, as well as performances, competitions and interactive workshops.

As part of LOL@Artscape, the festival’s nightly comedy component, the Baltimore Improv Group (BIG) will offer free improv shows at 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. July 20-21 at the BIG Theater, 1727 N. Charles St.

For those daunted by Artscape’s sprawl, the festival is adding free pedicab rides from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. July 20-21 and 11 a.m.-7 p.m. July 22 along Mount Royal Avenue, from the Modell Performing Arts Center at the Lyric to the Maryland Institute College of Art.

“We wanted to do something to celebrate the completion of the bike lane” on Mount Royal Avenue, Hornig said.

For more information on Artscape, including a full schedule of events and art projects, go to artscape.org.

ckaltenbach@baltsun.com

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