Art in the Park

By Kathy Knotts

Fine art, jazz music, wine and international cuisine. It’s a recipe for a cultural night of pleasure when Art in the Park kicks off Sept. 19.

The jazz and arts festival is the creation of Paulina Phillips and Theresa Sise of Jazz Beyond Borders and the organizers of the Jazz at the Mezz concert series that launched last year in the courtyard of Café Mezzanotte in Severna Park.

“Jazz at the Mezz has been a successful combination of incredible music and a wonderful audience that made a socially distanced monthly jazz series possible in the 2020-21 season. Whether it was live, hybrid, or online, audience loyalty and support made it all possible,” says Sise, who keeps a day job as office manager of CBM Bay Weekly. “That and the intrepid, protective nature of Paulina Phillips. I’ll never forget all I learned these past two years.”

Phillips says the festival is “a full circle experience for me since I worked on both the original Annapolis Arts Festival when I was in my 20s and the former Annapolis Jazz Festival much later.”

The duo of Sise and Phillips saw audiences for their jazz events swell due to the desire for outdoor activities during the lockdown.

“The event features top bands from the region and some international foods,” says Phillips. “Most of the event takes place outdoors with some art displays inside. We are planning for social distancing in our set up of tables and chairs.”

The courtyard and gardens will open to ticket holders at 1pm, giving guests an opportunity to view the fine art and gift selections from Benfield Gallery, Gallery 564, McBride Gallery and Side Street Framers.

Festival food and wine tasting stations will be available and the restaurant will offer its full Mediterranean menu.

The master of ceremonies for the event is WRNR radio host Michael Buckley, known as the host of the long-running radio program Sunday Brunch. The music begins with Amoroso, a jazz trio featuring Anne Arundel County multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Elizabeth Melvin, guitarist and vocalist Richard Rausch and Dick Glass, who plays flugelhorn in this concert.

The headliners are The JoGo Project, led by international saxophonist and former Chuck Brown protégé Elijah Jamal Balbed. The band combines jazz and go-go music, featuring vocalist Paul Spires, trumpeter Brad Clements, guitarist Zachary Cutler, bassist Delorean Fullington, drummer Willie Howell and percussionist Lewis Mike Burney.

Balbed is one of the District’s premiere jazz artists, and performed with Brown, the “Godfather of Go-Go,” from 2011 until Brown’s passing in 2012. Two years later, he founded his fusion band, The JoGo Project, preserving the legacy of D.C.’s unique art form.

Balbed will also appear in a soothing set of jazz and Brazilian music with the Balbed/Arnold/Berkowitz Trio. Joining him are two of the busiest musicians in the region: bassist Steve Arnold and drummer Julian Berkowitz.

A portion of festival proceeds will go to The Food Project, a center in Southwest Baltimore that uses food, music and art to motivate and inspire city youth.

Art In the Park

Sunday, Sept. 19

1-5pm, Café Mezzanotte, 760 Ritchie Hwy, Severna Park, $35 ($40 at the door), RSVP: