The BIRDS Rhythm Festival 1995.
The Baltimore International Rhythm and Drumming Society (BIRDS) hosted an annual Rhythm Festival held at St. Johns church in Charles Village. The festival made rhythm accessible through workshops, performances, an open-air market, kids activities, and an all day drum circle. It was an event that brought communities together to recognize and celebrate the power of rhythm to connect. The Festival hosted many amazing, internationally renowned musicians and dancers throughout the years, such as Glen Velez, Orlando Cotto, Ubaka Hill and Tony Vacca. The 1997 Festival featured the legendary Babatunde Olatunje, seen in the photo to the left with John Millen (BIRDS founder).
Menes Yahudah and Turner connected and partnered in 2014 to revive the festival under its current name, the Baltimore Rhythm Festival. Providing continuity with BIRDS is Rory Turner, who serves in the core leadership team of the BRF, and John Millen, who has been an active advisor and supporter.
The Baltimore Rhythm Festival embraces its place as a connecting and in between space in the fabric of our city’s communities. That is why we work hard to make the festival a free event open to everyone, and invite members of our community to share their gifts in community spaces and in our drum jams. We believe that rhythm connects us in music and other cultural expression, but also see how we are all connected to the larger rhythms of nature and growth, and our well being depends on how we care for nature and one another in the cycles that sustain us.
That’s why we are partnering with Baltimore organizations in expanding our work to help draw attention to food and local agriculture and celebrate our collective harvests.
Greenmount West in North Baltimore is the residential section of Baltimore’s Station North Arts and Entertainment District. The rapidly revitalizing neighborhood draws many young artists and commuters to renovated row-homes, artist housing and apartments. From checking out the latest art gallery exhibit to new music venues or restaurants, residents enjoy no shortage of things to do. [LIVE Baltimore]
Greenmount West is within walking distance to MICA; Penn Station is directly south, providing walking-distance access to Amtrak, Light Rail and MARC commuter rail service. Historic Greenmount Cemetery, is the final resting place of many famous and infamous Maryland and Baltimore figures (Enoch Pratt, John Wilkes Booth). The neighborhood was the early high school Baltimore home of the now deceased rapper Tupac Shakur.
As part of the Station North Arts and Entertainment District, Greenmount West is also within walking distance of the commercial district on Charles Street. This area includes attractions such as the Charles Theatre, a popular art house multiplex, The Station North Arts Cafe Gallery,
Greenmount West Community Association
Baltimore Montessori Public Charter School
Second Missionary Baptist Church
Gilford Hall Brewery
Station North Arts and Entertainment District
WHAT TO EXPECT
The festival begins at noon with a blessing and prayer and continues all afternoon with two stages, workshops, children’s activities, open mic, vendors, and the festival drum jams that are like no other.
Yard Stage, Street Stage, and Community Stage will feature a mix of local, national and
international performance acts.
Workshops welcome beginners and those with more experience and are hands on and lots of
fun. Bring your drum if you have one, we have a Drumcheck space for our guests!
Children’s area has craft activities and opportunities to play music.
Vendors will offer delicious soul lifting options for all (vegetarian/vegan options available). Vendors
will also offer unique crafts, art, clothing, jewelry, and drums and other musical instruments will be
Festival Planning Team
Rory Turner (co Director) – Fundraising and Grants
Menes Yahudah (co Director) – Artistic and Community Development
Eboni Yahudah – Communications and Vendors
Bakari Jones – Volunteers and Partnership Development