SEE THE LIGHT
There’s no denying the success of the inaugural Light City Baltimore—the 2016 weeklong LED extravaganza drew more than 400,000 revelers to the Inner Harbor and generated a cool $33.8 million in “economic impact” for the city—so it’s no surprise that the festival will return this spring, promising to be bigger and better than its predecessor. Expect new nightly events such as fireworks, a themed food and beverage program spearheaded by Sagamore Spirit (who else?), an assortment of new neighborhood light installations and, somewhat inexplicably, rapper Biz Markie. A few favorites from last year will make triumphant returns: notably, Tim Scofield and Kyle Miller’s “The Peacock,” a preening spectacular, and the Labs@LightCity “innovation conference,” this year featuring the likes of Pulitzer Prize-winning scientist Siddhartha Mukherjee and local author D. Watkins. March 31-April 8 in the Inner Harbor. Tickets required for conference, but the festival is free. 443-263-4311. promotionandarts.org —KIMBERLY USLIN
GAGA FOR DADA
Multidisciplinary artist Adam Pendleton provocatively dissects the issue of race, in both historical and contemporary contexts, via sculpture, painting, video, performance, collage and published works, much of it predicated on his 2008 broadside, Black Dada Manifesto. For this solo exhibition, Pendleton will hang floor-to-ceiling vinyl works against three walls, then overlay those with paintings, collages and screen prints thatembroider on his core philosophy. According to the artist, “Black Dada is a way to talk about the future while talking about the past. It is our present moment.” Through Aug. 13 at the BMA. Free. 443-573-1700. artbma.org —M.Y.
SPLITTING MARCH HARES
“Why is a raven like a writing desk?” After a less-than-stellar season, local football fans may have their own sports-motivated theories: a tendency to be wooden, perhaps, but that’s not likely what author Lewis Carroll had in mind. Immerse yourself in his absurdist raven/writing desk conundrum and other riddles as the Annapolis Shakespeare Company takes on his classic imaginative adventure, Alice in Wonderland. Join the titular protagonist as she meets the Cheshire Cat, Queen of Hearts, Mad Hatter and others April 1-30. Tickets: $55-$60. 410-415-3515. annapolisshakespeare.org —K.U.
FIERY FEATHERED FRIEND
Towson University Community Dance and the Columbia Orchestra team up to perform “The Firebird,” the iconic 1910 ballet highlighted by Igor Stravinsky’s original score and Michel Fokine’s choreography. Orchestral narrator (and percussionist) Greg Jukes will be your guide through this traditional Russian story of love, adventure and magic. The Firebird and Other Heroic Tales also boasts music from another popular fairytale: “Star Wars.” April 2 at the Gordon Center. Tickets: $11 (children), $16 (adults) in advance; $14 (children), $19 (adults) at the door. 443-290-8806. jcc.org —LAUREN PADILLA
TO DINE FOR
Calling all foodies. The traveling food market Emporiyum features a smorgasbord of multiculti fare from established national, regional and local artisans such as Duck Donuts, Route 11 Potato Chips, Swizzler Gourmet Hotdogs, Slingshot Coffee, Nutty Novelties and dozens of others. Enjoy music (courtesy of a DJ), sampling, sipping and gift shopping for yourself and others as you expand your knowledge of top-quality comestibles. April 1-2 at 600 E. Pratt St. (the former Best Buy location). Tickets: $15-$40. theemporiyum.com —SYDNEY BURROWS
Comedian, actor, producer, rapper and writer Mike Epps started his career in the mid-’90s on HBO’s “Def Comedy Jam” and its attendant tour, and has since starred as Day-Day Jones in the films “Next Friday” and “Friday After Next,” not forgetting his role as Black Doug in “The Hangover.” Epps headlines the Festival of Laughs, which also features comedians Bruce Bruce, Rickey Smiley and Felipe Esparza. April 1 at Royal Farms Arena. Tickets: $55-$178. 410-347-2020. royalfarmsarena.com —KATHERINE SCHAUER
MOTHER KNOWS BEST
With her new book At Mama’s Knee: Mothers and Race in Black and White, journalist April Ryan—longtime White House correspondent for the American Urban Radio Networks—explores how American moms (and dads) impart important lessons regarding race to their kids at a time when racially charged incidents frequently dominate the news. She does this from both a personal perspective (her two daughters) and via stories from notables such as Hillary Clinton, actress Cindy Williams and Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin (killed in 2012). Ryan discusses her book April 11 at the Ivy Bookshop. Free. 410-377-2966. ivybookshop.com —M.Y.
RACH & ROLL
Maestra Marin Alsop taps three different composers—Arvo Pärt, Igor Stravinsky and Sergei Rachmaninoff—for a thoughtful program that probes spiritual reflection, inspiration, doubt and redemption. This marks the BSO’s first assay of Pärt’s Bach-inflected “Credo,” while Stravinsky’s “Symphony of Psalms” features a full chorus (the University of Maryland Concert Choir) and, curiously, an orchestra minus violins and violas. Meanwhile, Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2, written in Germany in 1906-1907 while his native Russia began its descent into political upheaval, reveals his wrenching concern about his faith and national sympathies. April 28 and 30 at the Meyerhoff. Tickets: $33-$99. 410-783-8000. bsomusic.org —M.Y.
“When people look slowly at a piece of art,” explains the FAQ page of internationally celebrated Slow Art Day, “they make discoveries.” Quibbles with the event’s nomenclature aside (after all, it’s not the art that’s slow, but the appreciation of it), the Day’s mission is commendable. This year, the Walters Art Museum joins the not-so-fast fray with a special event in its Dutch galleries, wherein participants spend 20 to 30 minutes examining a single piece of art before meeting up with other unhurried appreciators for a moderated discussion. April 8 at the Walters. Free. 410-547-9000. thewalters.org —K.U.
LET’S GO CRAZY
Get on the good foot (or feet) exactly one year after Prince’s final concert (in Atlanta) with Paisley FunkShun: four hours of His Purpleness’ music, plus songs in which he had a creative hand (by Vanity 6, Sheila E., Wendy and Lisa, The Time, et al.), offered up by four DJs. Ticketholders are automatically entered into a raffle to win Prince collectibles, including photographer Steve Parke’s forthcoming book, Picturing Prince, a striking collection that shows Prince in private, unguarded moments at his Paisley Park estate. Expect visual effects to accompany the music, plus light hors d’oeuvres and drinks. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the In a Perfect World Foundation, No Kid Hungry and the Penn North Kids Safe Zone. April 14 at the American Visionary Art Museum. Tickets: $17. paisleyfunkshun.com —M.Y.
A CLOWN IN GOWNS
The season 6 winner of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” Bianca Del Rio (the alter ego of comedian Roy Haylock) is known for her spiteful, frank sense of humor and unfiltered mouth. The New York Times has dubbed her “the Joan Rivers of the Drag World,” while the late Rivers herself referred to Bianca’s humor as “so funny and so sharp!” Bianca’s Not Today Satan Tour promises plenty of burns, laughs and expletives. April 8 at Rams Head Live. Tickets: $37.50-$199. 410-244-1131. ramsheadlive.com —L.P.
Bulletin: The whole sword and sorcery craze did not begin with the Harry Potter books and films. True. Exhibit A: Magic, wizardry, romance and adventure all coalesce in Excalibur, a dramatic musical interpretation of the King Arthur legend that dates to the 12th century. Also true. The Ballet Theatre of Maryland, whose artistic director, Dianna Cuatto, created this full-length production, breathes new life into the ancient tale, accompanied by an original score written by hammered dulcimer player Maggie Sansone, who will perform with her Celtic Ensemble. April 1 at the Lyric. Tickets: $27-$47. 410-900-1150. lyricbaltimore.com —K.S.
Meticulously composed and passionately played, Explosions in the Sky’s intricate post-rock instrumental music creates an enveloping cinematic listening experience—cannily narrative without the aid of lyrics. (They’ve provided soundtracks for five films.) Remarkably, they come across as unpretentious, organic and human, and they somehow convey their carefully constructed studio work successfully in a live setting. Anticipate hearing material from the band’s handful of albums, especially 2016’s The Wilderness, when they perform April 18-19 at Rams Head Live. Tickets: $30. 410-244-1131. rams headlive.com —M.Y.
FOR BETTER OR VERSE
Given their respective creative portfolios, Rose Solari (poet, playwright, novelist, educator) and Elizabeth Hazen (poet, essayist, educator, occasional STYLE contributor—see this issue’s “Shelf Life”) will likely wax expansively on sundry subjects, notably the process of writing, plus read from their published volumes of verse (Solari: The Last Girl, Hazen: Chaos Theories) during Poetry & Conversation. April 25 at the Pratt Library’s Central Branch. Free. 410-396-5430. prattlibrary.org —M.Y.
ARC OF A SURVIVOR
As with only a select few of his 1960s singer/songwriter contemporaries—Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and Van Morrison come to mind—Steve Winwood has intuitively pressed the refresh button throughout his long, distinguished career, which began as the soulful voice and organist with the Spencer Davis Group when he was a teenager, and continued through the inventive band Traffic and his uplifting work as a mature solo artist. Along the way: fruitful side trips as a member of late-’60s supergroup Blind Faith with Clapton, and the pair’s 40-years-later 2009 concert collaboration. Extraordinarily, Winwood has never lost his soulfulness, inventiveness or genuineness. He plays the Modell Performing Arts Center on April 25. Tickets: $45-$85. 410-900-1150. lyricbaltimore.com —M.Y.
BEST IN SHOW
Get a taste of Westminster in Timonium when the Baltimore County Kennel Club’s Dog Show trots into town. Attracting nearly 3,000 canines from Dachshunds to Dobermans, the weekend-long event features a variety of competition levels: obedience, dock jumping, agility, specialties, best in breed and, of course, best in show. A host of vendors round out the four-legged fun, peddling toys, treats, clothing and more for man’s (and woman’s) best friend. April 21-24 at the Maryland State Fairgrounds. $5 per car. 410-252-7555. cherryblossomcluster.com —K.U.
ON THE WING
Enjoy a fantastic outdoors experience while aiding the environment via Bird-A-Thon, a creative fundraising initiative filled with birds, binoculars and buddies. To participate, simply form a team and collect pledges. Then venture outside and get to birding. For every species your group identifies, the Irvine Nature Center receives a donation. Spotting more birds means more funding for the center’s educational and environmental programs, which range from student field trips to animal care. April 21–May 29. 410-738-9200. explorenature.org —L.P.
Longtime chums Andy Cohen and Anderson Cooper have, independent of each other, contributed to the transformation of TV’s nature and impact over the past 20 years. Cohen is the creative mind behind the wickedly successful “Real Housewives” franchise, as well as host of the late-night chat/celeb news show “Watch What Happens Live,” while Cooper has worked as a news reporter and anchor for legacy TV networks and cable channels alike, currently helming CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360.” For AC2, they freely converse with each other and, together, with the audience. April 28 at the Hippodrome. Tickets: $89-$710. 800.982.2787. france- merrickpac.com —M.Y.
DESIGNING WOMEN (AND MEN)
Discover master craftspeople, as well as new and emerging artists, at the time-tested Sugarloaf Crafts Festival. These include artisans and designers working in wood, glass, jewelry, textiles, metal, ceramics, painting, sculpture, leather and specialty foods. Step out of your comfort zone with interactive demonstrations—wheel-thrown pottery, metal spinning, wood turning—then take a break to listen to live music and sample a variety of foods. The popular Middle Earth costumed storytelling performance provides entertainment for children. April 28-30 at the Maryland State Fairgrounds. Tickets $8 (online), $10 (event day), free (kids 12 and younger). 301-990-1400. sugarloafcrafts.com —S.B.
IT’S JUST LIT
Befitting 2017’s renewed focus on the rights of women, celebrated feminist author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie headlines the 14th annual CityLit Fest. For the keynote event, Adichie, best known for her novels “Americanah” and “Half a Yellow Sun” (as well as the 11.6 million-view TED talk “The Danger of a Single Story”), will appear in conversation with WYPR’s Tom Hall. Other fest programming includes a craft talk with novelist Dinaw Mengestu; panel discussions with Womanist/ Feminist Poets & Writers and Radius of Arab American Writers; workshops in editing, grants for writers and more; and readings from a litany of local poets and prose authors. April 29 at the University of Baltimore. Event prices vary. 410-274-5691. citylitproject.org —K.U.
TO THE MANOR BORN
Maryland’s timber racing season kicks off with the punishing 3-mile steeplechase My Lady’s Manor, the headliner on a four-race, over-the-jumps card set amid the gently rolling hills of northern Baltimore County. This genteel event also boasts live music, food vendors and a peck of horse-related merchandisers, all for the benefit of Ladew Topiary Gardens. Not forgetting a post-races Champagne reception. April 15 in Monkton. Admission: $40-$70. 410-557-9570. ladew gardens.com —M.Y.