Good Charlotte, a pop-punk band with deep Maryland roots, is the first major act committed to a music festival honoring press freedom in Annapolis.
After Mayor Gavin Buckley announced last week his intent to host a large-scale event, City Hall staffers began working the logistics of closing off streets, booking speakers and bands and bracing for a crush of people.
The festival is scheduled for July 28, one month after a shooting at the Capital Gazette newsroom that killed five people. Police said Jarrod W. Ramos, a 38-year-old man with a years-long grudge against the newspaper, blasted his way into the office. Ramos is charged with five counts of first-degree murder.
With less than three weeks before the festival, organizers in the mayor’s office are scrambling to collaborate with the State Highway Administration and Department of General Services to pull off the event. Many of the details are still in flux.
“Basically it’s going to come together fast and furious,” said Susan O’Brien, a city spokeswoman, “and everyone is working on a little bit of this and that.”
It will be a ticketed event, officials said, but the price hasn’t been set.
The performances will be on a stage at the intersection of College Avenue and Bladen Street. The city wants to use Lawyers Mall and State Circle for the staging area, O’Brien said.
Good Charlotte was founded by twin brothers Benji and Joel Madden, who were born in Waldorf but currently live in Los Angeles. Joel Madden said he moved to Annapolis at 18 and lived in the city for about four years.
The band released its debut album in 2000 with songs “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” and “Dance Floor Anthem.”
Madden, 39, said he was checking his Twitter feed while on vacation in Italy when he learned of the Annapolis shooting.
He previously had been talking to the mayor about opportunities to perform in Annapolis. Soon after the shooting, he reached out to Buckley to offer condolences. When the festival idea came up, Madden said he was eager to sign up.
“I don’t know what we can bring to it, other than we just want to be involved in supporting the city,” Madden said. “Obviously, we’re all shocked. We’re all kind of speechless. These are moments when you really don’t know what to do to help.”
O’Brien said the city isn’t prepared to announce other musical acts or speakers. But a certain star going on stage at FedEx Field in Landover that day seems to be on her mind.
“All I’m saying is that Beyonce is performing later on just down the street,” she said. “So if she wants to swing by and sing a couple of songs ... ”