BAMS Festival Returns to Franklin Park


BAMS Festival Returns to Franklin Park

BAMS FESTIVAL 2023 PHOTO: KBARBERPHOTOGRAPHY

SecondAllston Arts & Music Soul Festival (BAMS Fest), Boston’s only music festival specifically designed to highlight black and brown artists, returns this month with BJ the Chicago Kid, Rapsody, Xavier Omär, Elle Varner There are many more nationally and locally renowned music festivals set to return including. This massive two-day music festival in Franklin Park has become a beloved summer tradition for Bostonians.

Performance at BAMS Fest 2023.

In addition to the more than 30 musical artists on the main stage, the festival features the Beat Feet Dance program, where participants can learn the dance styles of the African diaspora from local choreographers; supplies from local black businesses curated by Black Owned Bos Merchant Village; Soul Food Row is a curated selection of food trucks serving jollof rice and fried chicken to inject energy into the dance moves.

“The discoveries are huge,” said BAMS Fest founder Catherine T. Morris. “[Festivalgoers] Entering green spaces, they are transformed, they are empowered, they are encouraged, they feel loved, indeed feel affectionate. Historically, their perceptions of our city have changed…in positive ways.

New to the festival this year is Kidchella, a stage featuring local young musicians aged 14 to 22, designed to highlight the next generation of BAMS Festival artists. This stage was produced in partnership with Beat the Odds Boston, Josh Kraft Mattapan Teen Center, Zumix and 617Peak.

Enjoy the music at BAMS Fest 2023.

The “Represent Your City” visual arts program will also get a new look. Since 2018, BAMS Festival has been inviting local artists to produce and display work during the festival. this This year, three artists will create live works in tribute to Boston, and visitors can view an exhibition of 14 works collected by the festival over the years. Exhibited artworks are available for sale, with 75% of proceeds going directly to the artist.

Roxbury native singer-songwriter Kareem (the self-proclaimed “last of the Roxburys”) will perform at the BAMS Festival for the first time this year. Karim’s music is a fusion of influences from jazz, R&B, hip-hop, gospel, classical and more over the years. He also collaborates with local designers and stores such as Lola and Clothes by Tomo, using fashion and textiles to make a statement.

BAMS Fest 2023 has something for everyone.

Karim said festivals like BAMS Fest are important “because a lot of local artists don’t get the platform they deserve. The area is rich with talent, but it also often gets the spotlight, especially in the downtown area. People don’t even think of it here.” There are black people, but we make up 25% of the city.

BAMS Fest has continued to grow since its inception in 2018. Although the Franklin Park Music Festival is BAMS Festival’s headline event, it’s not the organization’s only cultural contribution to Boston. The organization hosts 30 to 50 additional concerts and events throughout the year.

Artwork at BAMS Fest 2023.

BAMS Fest This year’s big events will be held at the Franklin Park Playstead on Saturday, June 29 from 12-9pm and Sunday, June 30 from 12-8pm. The location is near the Elma Lewis Playhouse in the park, where Elma Lewis started a tradition of performances by black performers in 1966. Nearly 60 years later, the BAMS Festival and other summer concerts continue the tradition.

The festival has been and will remain free and open to the public. But the organization is moving to a pay-as-you-grow admission model so that everyone can continue to attend the event, while attendees with the resources can help support BAMS Fest’s mission.

“BAMS Fest is an organization that is truly at the forefront of fighting for some very important things, especially through the lens of arts and culture, so that everyone can benefit and have fun,” Morris said. “It’s okay, let your hair down, you have the right to be who you are. You are allowed to bring your alter ego to the festival.



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