Whether you’re traveling on the East Coast, West Coast or somewhere in between this month (its September already?), you’ll find a wealth of special events, performances, culinary adventures and more of Afrocentric interest.
Motown the Musical (Multiple Cities)
One year has passed since the mega theater hit “Motown the Musical,” “the true American dream story of Motown founder Berry Gordy’s journey from featherweight boxer to the heavyweight music mogul who launched the careers of Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye and so many more,” went on the road. A slew of dates have been added through July 2016 before the play returns to Broadway in the summer of 2016. Additionally, original Broadway cast member Julius Thomas III will be returning to the national tour for a limited engagement in the role of Berry Gordy. The upcoming tour dates are
Cincinnati Sept. 8-20
Toronto Sept. 22- Nov. 1
Providence, R.I. Nov. 3-8
Rochester, N.Y. Nov. 10-15
Schenectady, N.Y. Nov. 17-22
Greenville, S.C. Nov. 24-29
Washington, D.C. Dec. 1- Jan. 3
Through Sept. 13
“Green Machine: The Art of Carlos Luna” (Miami)
Also presented at the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum at Florida International University in Miami, “Green Machine: The Art of Carlos Luna” exhibits the works of this foremost contemporary Cuban artist from his experiences living and working for many years in his native Cuba, Mexico and Miami. Visitors will not only see but also experience his large-scale oil on canvas paintings, tapestries, Talavera ceramic plates and mixed media on paper and wood, just to name a few, in an expansive 5,000-square-foot exhibition gallery that aptly highlights the breath of his work that the Frost museum’s director describes as “culturally attuned to shifts in the social and political environments of the three countries where he has lived and created art.”
Through Oct. 31
The “African Amedia” exhibit in Dallas was designed as “an open letter that [the presenting artist] hopes will inspire people to look past stereotypes and relate to each other based on content of character, not color of skin.”
Martha’s Vineyard Jazz & Blues Summerfest (Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.)
Celebrating “All things jazz” and designed to present “the diversity of jazz in a variety of formal and informal venues,” the Martha’s Vineyard Jazz Festival is held in the Union Chapel in Oak Bluffs and the Old Whaling Church in Edgartown. This fun and soulful engaging experience will include live musical performances this year from R&B singer Lisa Fischer, jazz pianist Yayoi Ikawa, the Julius Rodrigues Ensemble, Sage All Ladies Jazz and Blues, singer Nina Freelon and Andrea and James Rohler and the AndJam Band, among others.
Sonoma Wine Country Weekend (Sonoma, Calif.)
Billed as one of the top three national charity wine events and Sonoma County’s signature event, the annual Sonoma Wine Country Weekend brings together over 200 of Sonoma’s top winemakers, growers and top chefs for a luxurious weekend of exclusive lunches and dinners at an array of Sonoma area winery properties, as well as a Sonoma Harvest Auction. This party with a purpose was designed to benefit farm workers, students, children and others in need in the local community. To date it has raised over $16 million for charity. www.sonomawinecountryweekend.com
Michigan BluesFest (Lansing, Mich.)
This unique, two-day, free music festival (formerly called the Old Town BluesFest) stands above the rest, in that it encompasses “living music,” with each artist playing an original composition that until the festival has not been played to the general public. Each year, the thousands of attendees from across Michigan and nearby states enjoy a wide variety of sumptuous ethnic and American food, a KidzBeat area with interactive activities for all ages, unique boutique and retail stores, jewelry, clothing and craft vendors and a free historical walking tour of Old Town. www.oldtownbluesfest.com
Monterey Jazz Festival (Monterey, Calif.)
The Monterey Jazz Festival—the longest running jazz festival in the world—is celebrating its 58th anniversary this year. Among the more than 500 artists appearing in 100 performances on eight stages during the weekend are the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, Ravi Coltrane, Sonny Knight, Chris Botti, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Gerald Clayton, Bela Fleck, the Chick Corea Trilogy Trio with Christian McBride and Brian Blade, Lucky Peterson and a host of others. Exhibitions, music clinics, shopping and international cuisine are also among the activities that draw thousands of fans every year.
African American Street Festival (Nashville, Tenn.)
Presented by Nashville’s African American Cultural Alliance, the African American Street Festival, held at Hadley Park, brings the community together through African art exhibits, African dance, a health walk, over 30 ethnic culinary booths, over 100 international vendors, R&B, jazz, blues, reggae and gospel performances and more.
19th annual Baltimore County African American Festival (Baltimore)
Created to highlight numerous aspects of African-American culture through poetry, historical exhibits, dance, cuisine, and more, this free annual event encompasses a financial empowerment zone, a Children’s Champion Zone, a health and wellness village, poetry, dance, music, historical exhibits, children’s activities and a great deal more.
Lysa Allman Baldwin is a freelance writer and the publisher and editor of Amazing Escapades, featuring “adventures for the mind, bod and belly” (www.amazingescapades.com).