Best Bets: African American, Ladybug Music festivals going online

Tha Sankofa Dancers perform at last year’s Positively Dover African American Festival on Legislative Mall in Dover. This year’s 30th annual event will be a virtual festival available Saturday starting at noon on the Inner City Cultural League’s Facebook Live and YouTube pages. (Delaware State News file photo)

Although Delaware has started to open up little by little, the state’s entertainment scene hasn’t gotten quite so bold, as evidenced by the coming week’s slate of online events.

Dover’s 30th annual African American Festival, The Ladybug Music Festival and even a Kent County Theatre Guild play will all take place virtually in the forthcoming days.

Let’s take a look all of them.

African American Festival

The Inner City Cultural League Inc. will hold the African American Festival, “Virtually! Positively Dover” Saturday starting at noon on the league’s Facebook Live and YouTube pages.

‘This is our 30th anniversary and we really didn’t want to miss it even though we’re not doing it in the same format since we’re not physically out there with all the vendors and all the people, which is the whole atmosphere of the thing,” said Kathrina Stroud, executive director of the Inner City Cultural League.

“Since we can do it virtually, that’s what we wanted to do. There have been a lot of organizations that have been able to make that change and do something to keep their supporters engaged and keep people involved and interested. And it also really has an impact. There’s so many people that look forward to the festival every year. But we’re going to have our presence online.

“We’re going to try to make it similar. We’re not going to be able to see all the vendors and all the people and everything but we’re encouraging everybody to have watch parties and hang out with friends and family and things like that.”

Speakers and entertainment will fill the day. Performers will include the Sankofa Drummers and Dancers, Christy Taylor, Ed Dawley, Innovative Music Group featuring Donald Walker along with Mike and Serenity Fleming.

Festival founder Reuben Salters will speak on the beginnings of the event, which was originally supposed to be an art festival and has grown to become one of Dover’s premier events every fourth Saturday in June on Legislative Mall, featuring music, crafts and food.

The Sankofa Cultural Arts Center, at 39 S. West St., will be the headquarters for the day’s events as many of the performances will emanate from this location and a fish fry will be available for purchase.

Food orders are asked to be called for in advance by dialing 302-883-2180 or emailed to sanicaaf@comcast.net.

“We’re setting up our chat app, so that they can pay online or with their phone. And also, we’ll take cash.” Ms. Stroud said, adding that orders will be accepted on the day of the event.

Letty Chapman, with the Freedom Choir of Philadelphia, shows off her jewelry during last year’s African American Festival on Legislative Mall in Dover. (Delaware State News file photo)

“We will need to know what time they are coming and what their name is and we will have their order ready for them. When people are eating fish, they don’t want it made too far in advance. It needs to be hot and juicy.”

All orders must be picked up at curbside at the center. All proper precautions and permits will be in place to safeguard the public.

Ms. Stroud said having the African American Festival this year is important for a number of reasons.

“One of them is that there needs to be a sense of community. And that’s what ‘Positively Dover’ stands for — community and that includes everyone. And of course we stand for justice for all. One of the things that we do is to promote citizenship and leadership. We want to help to develop our future leaders and the festival is one way to get out there and everybody comes in and enjoys themselves at a time when things are in turmoil. That doesn’t mean we disregard what’s going on,” she said.

“We have to take into consideration where we were before, where we are now and then think about where we’re going. Because that’s actually what Sankofa stands for. Back to your roots and then you move forward with your youth and with your community. And we can’t do that when our conditions kind of go away. You still have to maintain the cultural tradition.”

To take part in the festival, visit www.facebook.com/ICCLSankofa/videos/2800848666692678.

Ladybug Music Festival

The Ladybug Music Festival, which has been held for the past seven years in Wilmington and the last two years in Milford, is going online this year in a big way.

Gable Music Ventures, creators of The Ladybug Music Festival, have partnered with Jet Phynx Films Creative Agency to launch the summer’s biggest online, all-female music festival Monday and Tuesday starting at 5 p.m.

Their first online venture will be headlined by R&B singer/songwriter and actress Keri Hilson.

Ms. Hilson’s breakthrough came in 2007 after appearing on Timbaland’s single “The Way I Are,” which topped charts around the world.

R&B singer/songwriter Keri Hillson headlines the online Ladybug Music Festival next week.

He debut studio album, “In a Perfect World…” debuted at number four on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart. The album spawned the hit singles “Knock You Down,” “Turnin Me On” and “I Like.” It also earned Ms. Hilson two Grammy Award nominations for Best New Artist and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for “Knock You Down.” Her second studio album, “No Boys Allowed,” was released in 2010 and it included the platinum single “Pretty Girl Rock.”

The 50-plus act bill also includes Vanessa Carlton, KT Tunstall, Mary Lambert, folk duo Larkin Poe, Kechi Okwuchi and Evie Clair both of “America’s Got Talent,” Taimane, Lauren Ruth Ward and Gina Chavez. Additional lineup announcements may also be made in the days ahead.

Wilmington native Jamila Mustafa, of MTV and BET, will be hosting this year’s event.

“I think we’ve really exceeded what we set out do,” said Jeremy Hebbel, co-founder of Gable Music Ventures.

“When it comes to this lineup, to me it’s just a dream come true. You know we never ever get to work with artists at this level. And it’s going to help us take the event just from kind of a regional-only event to something where we’re going to have a focus on having national talent from this point forward.”

Noting that they are still having discussions with some prominent names, Mr. Hebbel thinks this online festival will have a big impact.

“Even as the lineup sits now, we are so proud — so so proud of it. And it’s one of those things where if you sit back and look, it’s like there’s no way there is a festival anywhere where all of these artists would share the same lineup. It’s something very, very different. And we’re very proud of just how diverse the genres are. And just the many things we are offering to people,” he said.

The lineup will include short cooking demonstrations, yoga, happy hour with an official festival cocktail and mocktail and features for several Delaware visual artists along with talks from female music executives.

Another aspect of the festival that excites Mr. Hebbel is the amount of up-and-coming performers playing during the online event.

“We’re going to be mixing different genres together and really just focusing on high-quality music, and our biggest passion as a business is helping unsigned artists along in their career. I think that this is the biggest opportunity we’ve had yet. Just because I think we’re going to have a whole lot of really influential women in the industry, many of whom we’re going to be announcing over the next couple of days. They are from different record labels and just real influencers in the industry who are participating.

“They’re going to be on screen during this festival, and we have no doubt that they’ll be kind of keeping an eye on who a lot of these unsigned artists are.”

Mr. Hebbel said many of the lesser-known performers will be doing just one song but it should be enough for viewers and listeners to get a taste of what they are all about.

Although the live festivals have been free, there will be a $20 donation to stream the two-day event. A portion of the proceeds will be distributed nationally to the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund, who will be creating a fund specifically to assist female artists in financial crises due to loss of business from COVID-19 event closures.

Vanessa Carlton, known for hit songs such as “A Thousand Miles” and ‘Ordinary Day” will perform during The Ladybug Music Festival.

Additionally, funds will be distributed to the nonprofit organization, Downtown Visions, to benefit the Wilmington-based small businesses, which would have normally been involved and profited from the live production of the event.

Mr. Hebbel also hopes to donate some of the proceeds to Downtown Milford Inc.

For more information about the lineup, schedule and tickets, visit TheLadybugFestival.com.

Online theater

With its programming canceled for the rest of the year, the Kent County Theatre Guild will take to its Facebook Live page with a reading of the play “12 Incompetent Jurors” by Ian McWhethy Saturday at 7 p.m.

In a parody of the courtroom drama “12 Angry Men,” a man is accused of abducting a half-dozen cats and he’s up against a jury of oddball characters.

According to director Patti Gatto, the play will be staged with the actors reading from the script and no tickets will be sold for the event.

The cast of Kent County Theatre Guild’s Reader’s Theater production of the comedy “12 Incompetent Jurors.” It will be aired on the Guild’s Facebook Live page Saturday at 7 p.m.

“Because KCTG’s house is so cozy to begin with, 60% at 6 feet between non-household units doesn’t leave us much to work with,” she said.

“The other night we got together to read through the script and I’m actually kind of upset we’re not able to run it as one of our normal productions. It’s hysterical. “

The cast consists of Melissa Brenner, Susan Newark, Bruce Leister, Camaron Catalino, Mike Polo, Chris Polo, Paul Janiga, Erin Rich, Chris Baughan, Kevin Smith, Art Paul and Terri Thompson.

Meanwhile, Ms. Gatto said the Guild members have been “keeping busy during this downtime making some improvements.”

“We’ve got lots of surprises for folks,” she said.

‘Othello’ and racism

Delaware Shakespeare continues to present interactive online events with “‘Othello’ and Systemic Racism” planned for Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. using the online video conferencing platform Zoom. Pre-registration at delshakes.org is required and pricing is pay-what-you-can, with a suggested ticket price of $20.

“‘Othello’ and Systemic Racism” features Newton Buchanan and Lindsay Smiling, two actors who have both played the role of Othello multiple times. In this discussion, they look at how the systemic racism in Shakespeare’s Venice is the most powerful force leading to Othello’s tragedy.

The proceeds for this event will benefit the Delaware Coalition to Dismantle the New Jim Crow.

For more information, visit delshakes.org, email info@delshakes.org or call 302-468-4890.

‘Go-To Guide’

The Delaware Tourism Office (DTO) Wednesday launched the “Go-To Guide” in partnership with the state’s restaurants, hotels, and attractions in order to show visitors how to travel to Delaware safely.

The “Go-To Guide” outlines specific information on visiting Delaware – from guidelines for relaxing at the beaches to staying at a hotel to eating out at one of the state’s dining options.

DTO worked directly with the Division of Public Health on the guide and its central messaging, including:

• Bring a face covering to wear in public.

• Wash your hands early and often.

• Keep six feet between you and anyone outside of your travel group.

• If you’re sick, stay home. We’ll look forward to seeing you when you feel better.

View an animated safety video at https://youtu.be/W2a5pyF3Le8

The effort seeks to reinforce the importance of planning trips — even if just a day trip — ahead of time so travelers can be safe and prepared. This effort comes in advance of the Fourth of July holiday, a popular time for travel to the state.

“We can all help stop the spread of COVID-19 in our state while enjoying Delaware’s favorite attractions if we follow public health guidance and act responsibly with a sense of community,” said Gov. John Carney in a statement.

“It’s important that visitors know what is required to protect Delaware’s hard-fought progress against this virus. Wear a face covering. Wash your hands. Practice social distancing. If you’re sick, stay home. Travel may look a little different this year, but if you plan ahead, you will still enjoy your visit to Delaware.”

In addition to the “Go-To Guide,” DTO staff will be on-call as “Discovery Advisers” for visitors looking for personalized travel suggestions. Tourists should go to www.visitdelaware.com/discoveryadvisors to share what they’re hoping to do while in Delaware, and the office’s experts will send back suggestions depending on what is open and available.

“With a bit of planning, including reaching out to a Discovery Advisor, you can absolutely have a summer to remember,” said Liz Keller, Delaware tourism director, in a statement. “Discover an off-the-beaten-path attraction. Enjoy takeout from a favorite restaurant. You’ll get the most out of your getaway if you’re prepared and follow the health guidelines in place across the state.”

For additional details about the Go-To Guide and how to Summer Safely, visit: www.visitdelaware.com/gotoguide

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