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First Sunday festival offers eclectic mix of music and crafts


The First Sunday Arts Festival on West Street in Annapolis hosted its second installment of the season last weekend, highlighting an especially festive part of the Annapolis citywide ArtWorks.

From May through October, the first block of West Street off Church Circle is closed to traffic on the first Sunday of every month to provide an opportunity for citizens to enjoy arts and entertainment unique to the area.

Music was a large part of the June 4 event with the Frank and Joe show at Wiseman Park from noon until 3 p.m. Frank Vignola and Joe Ascione celebrated a 20-year musical partnership by launching their electric gypsy jam.

Later in the afternoon and farther down West Street, the music continued with the Unified Jazz Ensemble.

The players wore hats fashioned from balloons and played cool jazz and familiar favorites like Cole Porter's "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To" for a group of fans that also watched a potter working at her wheel.

Umbrellas lined West Street marking more than 40 local vendors and artisans and their displays of handmade jewelry, ceramics, unique tableware, linens and scarves.

Here I found much needed zipper pulls for my prized Gianni Versace handbag, bought a few years ago in Milan.

The street vendors have undeniable appeal, but there are several West Street shops worth a look. AFTFX offers an array of pottery and boasts being the only Annapolis outlet for the famous wheel-thrown crab pottery.

Both here and at 49 West Coffeehouse, Winebar and Gallery each month, a new artist is showcased and is on hand at receptions held from 5 to 8 p.m. each first Sunday.

49 West is home to jazz and folk music on many nights. The First Sunday program included Annapolis Chorale representatives praising coming events outside 49 West.

Seated at a nearby table enjoying the atmosphere, including the electric gypsy jazz music, were renowned bassist Joe Byrd and his wife, Elana. She mentioned a coming Joe Byrd Jam show with Robert Redd on Wednesday at 49 West. For other coming jazz events, Elana invites e-mails at elanabyrd@comcast.net.

Inside 49 West, we found three volunteers who helped promote ArtWorks and brought us First Sunday. Festival coordinator Pamela Godfrey Stevens also serves as general manager of the Annapolis Chorale and is a flutist with the Annapolis Chamber Orchestra.

"We have great live music today, and we're seeing larger crowds than ever," she said.

Stevens acknowledged the contributions of her two table companions - McShane Glover, president of the board of directors of the Annapolis Arts Alliance and Jaqui Rouse, who also serves on the board.

The Alliance provided 20,000 color brochures that listed the complete schedule of ArtWorks events.

Begun after Mayor Ellen O. Moyer invited arts supporters to a meeting in March 2003, the Annapolis Arts Alliance now strives to promote arts in this area. For more information, visit www.arts annapolis.com.

Meanwhile the First Sunday Arts Festival on West Street is the place to be to soak up unique hometown atmosphere. Be sure to visit on July 2 for special weekend Fourth of July festivities.

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