After blogging for three years, I've come up with a saying: Online, there is no 'best' -- there is only 'first.'

That said, I might not have the best announcement of this year's Artscape festival roster, but I have the first one.

The folks at the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts gave me a sneak peak at the lineup, which will be formally announced at a press conference today.


In case you missed my short piece in today's paper, the headliners are:

Jam rock band Gov't Mule, neo soul singer Musiq Soulchild, Washington-based rapper Wale and indie rock group Cold War Kids are the big names this year ...

Other national acts such as soul singer Maysa, singer/songwriter Jackie Greene and reggae group Rebelution round up the lineup. Of course, these bands are a mere taste of the 50-odd acts performing on four stages. This year, festival organizers added another stage featuring local music, called the Charm City Stage. Sweet!

So ... what do you think of the headliners? I've seen a couple of them before. Gov't Mule front man Warren Haynes has played with half the jam bands under the sun -- Allman Brothers, Phil Lesh, the Grateful Dead. I last saw him with Phil Lesh several years ago. He's a nasty (in a good way) guitarist, with a gravelly, soulful voice. I love how, in this photo, he looks like a zombie about ready to eat the microphone.

I caught Wale when he opened for Jay-Z at 1st Mariner Arena last year. He's probably the highest-profile rapper to come out of Washington, but he's still not a household name yet. At the end of his set at 1st Mariner, he chucked a water bottle way out into the crowd, where it struck a woman in the head, if I remember correctly. Ouch.

This year's lineup doesn't have many older performers with vintage appeal, like Dionne Warwick or Roberta Flack. Usually there's a few of those on the bill. So maybe this year's show will appeal more to a younger audience.

What do you think?

(AP photo of Gov't Mule front man Warren Haynes)

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