Detroit-based R&B singer Kem, Southern blues trio North Mississippi Allstars and the Wailers, former bandmates of Bob Marley, will headline Artscape 2013 on July 19-21, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts announced Tuesday morning at the Single Carrot Theatre.
More than 350,000 people are expected to attend this year's Artscape, which remains the country's largest free arts festival, Rawlings-Blake said. The economic impact of the festival, which is now in its 32nd year, is expected to surpass $25 million, she said.
The theme of this year's Artscape is "international," organizers said. The range of music acts — from the New Orleans brass sounds from the Dirty Dozen Brass Band to Krar Collective's Ehtiopian roots rock to Tosin's afro beats — reflects the theme.
This year, Artscape organizers spent $173,000 on music talent, said festival director Kathy Hornig, which is "about on par" with what Artscape has spent on music acts in recent years. Judging from tweets and comments online, some are excited about Kem, while others are less enthusiastic about the lineup overall.
"The reality is, as the cost of those headline acts go up, we have a certain budget and we have to stick to it," Hornig said. "We try to book the very best we can within the budget that we have. For everyone who's knocked the schedule, I've had that many people say, 'Oh my God, you got Kem, I love him.'"
Hornig says she, along with talent buyer Paul Manna and events director Sheila Goodwin, began planning the concert lineup after February's Grammy Awards. Part of the challenge of booking Artscape, Hornig said, is finding talent on the verge of breaking through to the mainstream. She cited previous acts such as the Avett Brothers in 2007 and Michael Franti & Spearhead in 2006 as examples.
"[In 2011,] we had Miguel," Hornig said. "This year we would not be able to book Miguel."
Other music acts scheduled to perform include rock trio Jukebox the Ghost, experimental Baltimore duo Matmos, local rapper UllNevaNo and more.
While the mayor listed many examples of art that could entice potential attendees (including the "No Passport Required: A Cross Cultural Arts Experience" installation and the 20th annual Art Car Show), she also cited a more basic reason to experience Artscape.
"It's the hottest weekend of the month, and usually it's the most fun — especially if you like people-watching," Rawlings-Blake said.
In addition to the live music, Artscape will host a weekend full of dance and opera performances, street theater, food vendors and more. There will be specialized exhibitions as well, including Gamescape (focusing on video games), Dancescape (celebrating dance from around the world) and Kidscape (a place where children can create their own crafts).
New to this year's festival is "Artscape After Hours," a party from 9-11 p.m. on Saturday that will turn the 1700 and 1800 blocks of North Charles Street into an outdoor dance club with local DJs and lighting effects, organizers said.
There's also a new, free Artscape mobile app, which can be downloaded by Apple and Android devices and will provide up-to-date information on festival happenings.
Here's the full schedule of the three concert stages:
Wells Fargo Main Stage (1400 Cathedral St.)
Friday, July 19
4:30 p.m.: Brittanie Thomas
6 p.m.: Bridget Kelly
7:30 p.m.: Kem
Saturday, July 20
1:30 p.m.: iLyAIMY
3 p.m.: Krar Collective
4:30 p.m.: Jukebox the Ghost
6 p.m.: The Dirty Dozen Brass Band
7:30 p.m.: North Mississippi Allstars
Festival Stage (Mount Royal Avenue, near Mosher Street)
Noon: Basement Instinct
1:30 p.m.: Sojourne
6 p.m.: The Rez
7:30 p.m.: Bill O'Connell & The Latin Jazz Allstars
11 a.m.: Reina Williams
12:30 p.m.: The Control
2 p.m.: Straight Up Tribal
3:30 p.m.: UllNevaNo
5 p.m.: Lafayette Gilchrist & The New Volcanoes
6:30 p.m.: United States Navy Band Country Current
11:30 a.m.: The Booby Traps
1 p.m.: Reesa Renee
2:30 p.m.: Greasy Hands
4 p.m.: Don Trunk
5:30 p.m.: Sine' Qua Non
7 p.m.: Appaloosa
Station North Stage (North Charles Street, near North Avenue)
Noon: Baltimore City Public Schools
3:30 p.m.: Leland Palmer
5 p.m.: Lazlo Lee & The Motherless Children
6:30 p.m.: J Pope & Funk Friday
8 p.m.: Matmos
12:30 p.m.: Victims of Experience
2 p.m.: Yellow North
3:30 p.m. Thee Lexington Arrows
5 p.m.: Val Yumm
6:30 p.m.: Allie the Cats
8 p.m.: Dead Melotron
12:30 p.m.: Dreamboat Armada
2 p.m.: Bad Seed Rising
3:30 p.m.: Wild Honey
5 p.m.: Red Sammy