Last weekend, whileandwere sprawling across the center of Baltimore, there was a smaller, less heralded street festival going down across town, at the corner of Lafayette and Caroline streets. Thecelebrated its fourth year on Saturday with a full day of performances and concessions, while offering a myriad of social services, from HIV tests to school supplies. And in the neglected Northeast neighborhood of Oliver, where vacant houses with boarded-up doors dot every block, a celebration with a touch of community outreach is a welcome concept. The fest's host was actor Julito McCullum, best known in and out of Baltimore for his portrayal of Namond Brice on the last two seasons ofThe Wire. But it took us a while to recognize the 17-year-old actor, who's looking much beefier, with tattoos on his arms, than when the series wrapped shooting just a year ago.Of course, since we couldn't resist the pull of Artscape on Saturday evening, we only spent a few hours of the afternoon at the Block Fest. So we unfortunately missed most of our favorite performers headlining later in the day, including Paula Campbell, Tim Trees, Mullyman, and Greenspan. And it'd be unfair to judge the festival based on the lesser-known acts that rounded out the bottom of the bill; suffice it to say, we're sure the Block Fest ended on a high note. But during the time we were there, the entertainment ranged from the endearingly amateurish to the obnoxiously vacuous, with occasional flashes of real talent. One early highlight was R&B singer Shadina, whose voice and original songs were strong enough that her unimpressive backup dancers and Keyshia Cole cover came off as distracting, unnecessary accessories. And the Dream Nation Marching Unit, which paraded onto the festival grounds just as we were arriving, were a truly unique marching band. Formed just last year in Baltimore, with members' ages ranging from 3 to 60, and composed mainly of drummers and dancers, Dream Nation was a refreshing change of pace from the usual cookie-cutter high-school bands.Event programs were distributed at the Charm City Community Block Fest, including detailed bios of each performer. And while the information was helpful, it also demonstrated exactly why artists shouldn't be allowed to write their own bios: According to the program, Virginia duo Harlem X "refuses to adhere to the status quo, preferring instead to march to the beat of their own unique drum." But onstage, back in reality, they rapped about money over a Lil Wayne track, perhaps the least daring thing a hip-hop act can do in 2008.Instead, it was the unplanned moments that turned out to be the most entertaining. Jazz from Dru Hill dropped by to show his support a few hours before his group's appearance at Artscape and gave a brief solo performance. And McCullum frequently ceded the stage to locals, including a 9-year-old girl who belted like it was herAmerican Idolaudition. But even better was the impromptu dance contest Jazz organized among some of the neighborhood kids, who were too young too have ever been in a nightspot but swung their limbs to Baltimore club music with shocking agility. The Charm City Community Block Fest may be a small event with modest aims, but as a representation of Baltimore, it captured the town's unique character in ways Artscape never could.