By Jessica Hofmann
Editor's Spotlight: Preakness
Marylanders make a big deal out of the Preakness. And why not? After all, it is much more than just a horse race where women wear fancy hats. In fact, it's a world-class sporting event that is ours to share with the world. So, naturally, we make a week of it with events for the whole family beginning on Saturday, May 10, and lasting right up to post time on Saturday, May 17. Parades, parties, concerts, and kids activities are just some of what's available to Baltimoreans that week with a full schedule available via preakness.com. As for the race itself, it's too early as of press time to tell what this year's field will look like, but if previous years are any indication, no favorite is a shoe-in and no long-shot can be counted out, which is just the way we like it in Baltimore.
Grab your hemp tote and put on your best pair of Birkenstocks, because the Baltimore Farmers' Market returns May 4. Located underneath the JFX at Holliday and Saratoga Streets, the market occurs every Sunday from 8 a.m. until noon through December 21 and provides some of the area's freshest breads, cheeses, and produce. 410-752-8632.
Kinetic Sculpture Race
On May 3, the American Visionary Arts Museum presents one of Charm City's wackiest annual events: the Kinetic Sculpture Race X. The race, which asks contestants to design their own transportation for the amphibious route, is more concerned with imagination than competition, but it still hands out awards--including the Mediocre Award and the Next-to-the-Last Award. Kineticbaltimore.com.
On his latest tour, the often-solo troubadour has called in some support in the form of a 12-man backup band comprised of veteran touring and recording artists. See James Taylor and His Band of Legends when their tour stops at Pier Six Concert Pavilion on May 31. Pier6pavilion.com.
The tragic story of the marriage between an American sailor and a Japanese geisha, Madama Butterfly is the most popular opera in North America. This five-hanky show features an achingly beautiful score with arias like "Vogliatemi bene" and "Un bel dì vedremo." Watch the Baltimore Opera Company tackle this show from May 10, 14, 16-18. Baltimoreopera.com.
Maryland Film Festival
Lights, camera, action! This year's Maryland Film Festival will take place May 1-4 and include local and international submissions in genres ranging from animation to documentary to music video. And, after taking in a screening, don't forget to swing by the tent village across the street from festival home base The Charles Theatre, where filmmakers mingle and discuss their work. Md-filmfest.com.
By Jess Blumberg
Editor's Spotlight: Honfest
Just think: In less than 15 years, Hampden's annual HonFest has gone from a modest contest outside of Cafe Hon to an all-out, two-day festival that now draws more than 50,000 people to The Avenue every summer. And this year's celebration of cat's-eye glasses and bouffant 'dos on June 14 and 15 promises to be better than ever. There will be the usual (we use the term loosely) Best Hon and Bawlmerese contests, Spam-can bowling, local art, live music, and plenty of crab balls and Natty Boh to go around. But Cafe Hon's owner and event creator Denise Whiting says this year is geared towards the "healthier Hon," as you can win Curves memberships in the Glamour Lounge and vendors like The Dogwood Restaurant will be selling organic goodies. "We're finally starting to leave our mark," Whiting says. "So now it's about tweaking it and making it better." Free. 410-243-6800.
The BSO's 2007-2008 season goes out with a few bangs, crashes and crescendos June 20-22 at the Meyerhoff. Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Choral Arts Society present the transcendent Beethoven's Symphony No. 9. The memorable "Ode to Joy" will resonate long after the season's end. American composer Joan Tower will open. $37-57. 410-783-8000.
Taste the Arts
Go around the world in one evening at the annual Taste the Arts event at Center Stage on June 7. Five destination rooms (India, Africa, Japan, Cuba, and Spain) feature food, music, and live performances. A live and silent auction includes cruise packages and a chance to be "a deejay for a day" at WRNR. Proceeds benefit Young Audiences/Arts for Learning. $75. 410-837-7577.
Robert Plant and Alison Krauss at Merriweather
The unlikely, but complementary, pairing of Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant and bluegrass singer Alison Krauss comes to Merriweather June 13. The Grammy-Award winning duo promotes their album Raising Sand and T Bone Burnett opens. $40-125. 410-730-2424.
We are devoted Orioles fans, but on occasion we need a little pick-me-up after nine innings. That's why fireworks night at Camden Yards is just the thing. Take in the show after the O's play the Pittsburgh Pirates on June 13 (you can usually snag better seats after some other fans clear out). $6-80. 1-888-848-BIRD.
"A Line In The Sand"
The House of Ruth sponors a powerful photography exhibit chronicling Maryland's fight against domestic violence at Gallery Imperato from June 6-27. Photographers shot portraits of more than 20 subjects who have helped the cause, including Katie O'Malley, William Donald Schaefer, and David Simon. Free.alineinthesand.org.
By Dylan Waugh
Faces of Ancient Arabia
The Queen of Sheba is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, and the Qur'an, and now art from her homeland of Southern Arabia makes its way to The Walters Art Museum. Faces of Ancient Arabia, which will run from July 20-September 7, will showcase the splendor of Southern Arabia through Yemeni alabaster sculptures dating to as early as the 3rd century B.C. thewalters.org.
July 4th Fireworks Celebration
Watching fireworks at the Inner Harbor on the Fourth of July, one can't help but feel a bit like Francis Scott Key (minus the whole war with Britain part). Street performers will provide entertainment at the Inner Harbor Amphitheater from 11 am-4 pm, followed by the "rockets' red glare and bombs bursting in air" at 9:30 pm. bop.org.
The Steve Miller Band
He may have an identity problem-is he a space cowboy, a gangster of love, or Maurice?-but Steve Miller sure knows how to play the guitar. The Steve Miller Band will rock out at Merriweather Post Pavilion on July 17. Among the band's many hits are "The Joker," "Take the Money and Run," and "Fly Like an Eagle."ticketmaster.com.
Baltimore's Restaurant Week offers a chance to enjoy a three-course, prix fixe dinner at some of the city's top eateries without having to wash dishes to pay your bill. This summer's event takes place from July 25-Aug 3. Details about participating restaurants and pricing will be available soon at baltimorerestaurantweek.com, but previous choices include Fleming's, the Rusty Scupper, and The Oceanaire.
Editor's Spotlight: Artscape
Whenever we talk about our favorite Baltimore events, Artscape is always near the top of the list. And would you believe it that from July 18-20 America's largest free public arts festival will take over Mt. Vernon for the 27th time? More than 150 artists, fashion designers, and craftspeople will turn Mt. Royal, Cathedral, and (new in 2008) Charles Street into studios, exhibits, and stages. All genres of art-from the traditional (photography, opera, theater) to the radical (two words: art cars)-will be displayed. Music fans can soak up a BSO performance or catch a show by the Baltimore Jazz Society. The Family Experience tent (also new this year) offers kids dance, martial arts, music, and painting opportunities. Plus, chow down at the all-new Green Food Court. So Artscape is going green now, too? And we thought we couldn't love it any more. artscape.org.
By Elisabeth Gelsse
Editor's Spotlight: Virgin Fest
On August 9 and 10, the only racing you will see at Pimlico Race Course will be done by eager music fans hurrying from stage to stage. The cause of all this haste? The Virgin Mobile Festival, which returns to Baltimore for the third consecutive year this summer. In just two years, Virgin Fest (as it's known to everyone but its corporate organizers) has earned a reputation as a monster event hosting everyone from The Police to Amy Winehouse. This year's headliners are another bunch of heavy-hitters with reigning hip-hop king Kanye West, 90's alt-rock darlings Foo Fighters, and industrial-rock pioneers Nine Inch Nails topping the bill, plus Hawaiian dude rocker Jack Johnson and a reunited Stone Temple Pilots in the mix as well. As of press time, the full roster of performers had yet to be announced but more details will be forthcoming all summer long via virginmobilefestival.com.
Hot August Blues & Roots Festival
We're not meteorologists, but we're willing to bet that it will be hot this August. Certainly Cockeysville will be sizzling on August 16 as the 16th Annual Hot August Blues & Roots Festival takes over Oregon Ridge Park. Headliners include John Hiatt and the Ageless Beauties, Marcia Ball, and Bonerama.hotaugustblues.com.
Maryland State Fair
We can't think of a better way to bid summer adieu than by stuffing our faces full of fried dough and basking in the breeze of the Ferris wheel at the Maryland State Fair, held from August 22- September 1. It's tradition, people. See you there. marylandstatefair.com.
Hootie & the Blowfish
Hootie & the Blowfish were the pop-rock band of the mid-90's. Sure, other bands had more street cred, but, chances are Hootie was what you were actually listening to-no matter what you told your indie rock friends. Since then, the band's ubiquity has subsided, making it much easier to admit that, yeah, their semi-acoustic, sing-a-long songs were pretty darn enjoyable. Get reacquainted with the Grammy Award-winning quartet when they play Pier Six on August 12.hootie.com.