+ By Tom Levine
If you had the good sense to attend September’s Annapolis Fringe Fest, the annual Arts District celebration of all things artistic and eccentric, you would have had a grand time. But if you went thinking that you could have taken it all in, you might have been disappointed. It was a tidal wave of all things artistic, and it was not just roaring down West Street, but flooding every adjacent parking lot, alley, and courtyard. Having been assigned to cover the festival for Up.St.ART, I felt some obligation to see it all, but I could barely keep my head above water. The program listed 20 acts and that was barely half of it. Fortunately, I was able to tread water in a sea of painting, music and sculpting, pottery, drawing, and comedy long enough to see a few things.
Heading to the main stage, I walked into a buzz saw. Dominic Fragman was beating the skins off his drum set. The crowd loved it. Fragman decided to give them a little more. Without skipping a beat, he grabbed his guitar in the left hand, drumstick in the right, and he started in on “Whole Lotta Love.” How is this possible? And why did Led Zeppelin bother being a quartet?
There was a burlesque show under a tent. Bambi Galore and her troupe, Cabaret of Curiosities, put on a raucous and funny show featuring “mad scientists and glamourous showgirls.” I didn’t learn anything about science.
Meanwhile, back on stage, Ricardo Marlow played hauntingly beautiful flamenco guitar. Anna Menendez joined him, dancing with sharp-edged precision and barely containing her emotion. Down the street, dancer Floor Godbrother, aka Trevian Parke, drew a crowd with astounding street dance moves that challenged my notion of human physiology.
It was after 11 p.m. by the time I slipped into Tweety and Company’s late show. The drag queens vamped through Motown and Tina Turner. The audience couldn’t sit still or stop shouting their approval, and neither could I.
By midnight, the waters calmed and the festival wound down. I headed home, collapsed, and awoke in the morning, vowing to start swim lessons immediately. I’ve only got a year to get in shape.