This month in Urbana, kids and adults of all ages can dance the afternoon away at the Urbana Music Festival. This free event, held June 23, provides fun for the whole family from noon – 6 p.m. at the Urbana Regional Library. The festival features three bands — the Chopteeth Afrofunk Big Band, the Beat Hotel and the Fabulous Mary Ann Redmond Band — that will perform throughout the day.
Amy Whitney, branch administrator of Urbana Regional Library, said the festival is “a great opportunity for the community to hear music that they wouldn’t hear normally.”
This year, for the first time, the festival will include a “transportation zone” featuring a Humvee from the National Guard, vehicles from the Urbana Volunteer Fire Company, and a highway utility truck.
Kids can go on pony rides, visit the petting zoo and play on the Moon Bounce. Karate demonstrations will also provide an opportunity for kids to learn new skills. They can meet Max the Bunny, Sneaks the Cat and Clifford the big Red Dog, as well as the Frederick Keys’ mascot, Keyote.
Frederick artist David Vogin will give a short talk followed by a question and answer session about his work in digital collage for the first time at the festival. Vogin, who has worked as a graphic designer for 20 years and an illustrator for nine years, currently is showing a mix of his editorial and personal work, with pieces from his Circus-Circus series at the Urbana Regional Library.
Vogin, a father of two young children, said that he thinks his art is unique and tries to create each collage to look very illustrative. He loves his craft, because he loves to create things.
“There’s no set time limits,” he said. “I just sit down and play.”
Vogin has participated in the CSA project at the Delaplaine Visual Arts Education Center and displayed his artwork at Café Nola and the Silk & Burlap store. He said he’s “looking forward to seeing some good music” at the festival.
Also new to the festival this year is the Chopteeth Afrofunk Big Band with an Afrobeat sound invented in Nigeria in the 1970s by Fela Kuti. The band also plays other styles of music such as highlife, rumba, soukous, East African, latin and ska. Michael Shereikis, a singer in the band who composes most of its songs, said the band’s music “makes a lot of people dance” and provides a “physical, emotional release.”
Shereikis said he became interested in African music while volunteering in the Peace Corps in Africa. One of his earliest musical influences is Jean Bosco Mwenda wa Bayeke, a guitarist and singer from the Congo.
People who live outside of the region have been “astonished that this sound exists here in Washington, D.C.,” said Shereikis, who lives in Silver Spring, Md. Chopteeth sings in about 10 languages, and the band’s song lyrics include social commentary and political insight. His band will perform from 4 – 5:30 p.m.
The Fabulous Mary Ann Redmond Band, a winner of 14 Washington Area Music Awards, performs from 12 – 1:30 p.m. Later in the day, The Beat Hotel band, which features a horn section, plays Mardi Gras dance music from 2 – 3:30 p.m.
Food will be offered at the festival by vendors including Urbana’s Ledo’s Pizza, the Painted Cone and Gourmet Gang.
Elizabeth Cromwell, manager of corporate and community partnerships for the Frederick County Public Libraries, said that the music festival has grown since its inception. The first festival, in 2009, drew 2,500 people, while the event drew 4,500 attendees last year.
“The music festival is something people look forward to all year long,” Cromwell said.
The Urbana Music Festival is sponsored by the Villages of Urbana, C. Burr Artz Trust, The Town Courier, FMH Urbana, Living Grace Lutheran Church, Natelli Communities, Pediatric Center of Frederick, Capital Women’s Care, Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyards, NV Homes,Parkwood Homes, Friends of the Urbana Regional Library, Ryan Homes, Amber Hill Physical Therapy, Frederick Foot & Ankle Specialists, Main Street Homes and Franklin Liquors.