Tuesday, September 8, 2009

no limit to expression on ellsworth last week

Band Playing At Expression Live!
This could've been just a post about Expression Live!, the music and spoken word festival on Ellsworth last Saturday sponsored by the Bridge, a church that meets in the Majestic 20. But the magic of Downtown Silver Spring is that no matter how many activities are scheduled you can never predict what you'll see there on a Saturday. I'll bet those who organized Expression Live! anticipating at least a few converts weren't too excited to see two dozen Hare Krishna adherents from the temple in Potomac randomly show up at Ellsworth and Fenton, drawing their own crowd with the chant we know so well.

Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna
Any other week, security guards in Downtown Silver Spring are charged with shooing teenager from the doors of the Majestic and (as I saw last Saturday) flirting with female passers-by. But now, the task was teaching world religion to the forty or so people who'd gathered to watch the performance.

"What's going on?" asked a ponytailed skater kid. "It's Hare Krishna," replied the security guard in a so obvious tone of voice. "If you wanna know, you can go up and ask them more." (Not a task for the weak of heart, as I was cornered by a monk who placed a copy of Chant and Be Happy in my hand and freed a dollar from my wallet.) Ponytail muttered something and the guard launched into the threats all DTSS guards must have to learn, which goes "They don't pay me enough to be your parents, and if you're going to act up like this, you KNOW where you can go."

Jon Tucker At Expression Live!
Down at Silver Plaza, the Festival was going as scheduled, with performances by a slew of local artists ranging from hip-hop to R & B and a less-than-inspiring set by a contemporary Christian band (and they were no Anberlin, let me tell you.) Spoken-word artist/my friend Jon Tucker delivered a set as well, which wasn't too well-received by the crowd of middle-agers and kids-in-swimsuits. We agreed that this may not be the best venue for slam poetry, though I noticed one kid who watched Jon's performance like the man had just turned water into wine.

Expression Live! Festival on Ellsworth
Other attractions included face-painting, canvas paintings for display and sale (among them a very confusing portrait of the Beatles), multiple artists - even one on the stage with the musicians - working al fresco, and a clothing drive for the Shepherd's Table homeless shelter. All of this took place under "National Harbor" tents, which makes you wonder if the Peterson Companies are not-too-subtly advertising the Downtown complex's bigger, flashier brother or happened to lose all of their Silver Spring tents.

Wayna at Expression Live!
The show closed out with Wayna, a locally-based R&B singer whose "Lovin' You (Music)" was nominated for a Grammy (and I mean a Grammy, not a Wammy) this year. You know that really high note in Minnie Riperton's "Lovin' You" (on which Wayna's song is based) that, like, shatters windows? I swear they heard it in Wheaton Saturday night.

Security Breaks Up Breakdancing, Or Whatever The Kids Are Doing Now
With at least a few hundred people in Silver Plaza to hear Wayna sing, the traditional Saturday night dance (breakdance? pop-and-lock? I don't know.) gathering at the opposite end of Ellsworth could not compete. (You can see the Hare Krishnas, having moved across the street where they would remain for a few more hours.) Not that this was an issue, because security was there to urge those assembled to move along. And lo, another weekend day in Downtown Silver Spring came to an end. They may call it fake, but as I always say, the people look real to me.

For more photos of the goings-on, check out this photoset.

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