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Sunday, Dec 5, 2021

Music festivities add life to Cherry Blossom

A festival that lacks foot-stomping, hip-swinging music lacks people who want to attend.

Thankfully, the International Cherry Blossom Festival, the pinkest party around, celebrated Macon’s local commodity of the Yoshino cherry tree with no shortage of musical entertainment.

One of the highly anticipated performances was the Matsuriza Taiko Drummers, a traditional Japanese drumming group who travel around to various festivals in the southeast but also call Epcot at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., their more permanent home.

Matsuriza Taiko drummers combine fast-paced, almost mesmerizing sequences of drum thrumming with highly choreographed strings of back-and-forth rhythm-producing beats.

For those who preferred a more relaxed setting, the festival offered organ concerts on weekdays at Mulberry Street United Methodist Church and St. Joseph Catholic Church.

Arguably the most anticipated event for this year’s festival was the Wild Wing Cafe Cherry Blossom Concert Crawl that replaced the Cherry Blossom Street Party of years past.

In true (pub) crawl fashion, a pink wristband for $20 at the door, or $15 presale, allowed entrance to all the musical hot spots for the evening, while a less expensive blue wristband permitted entrance to only one location.

Venues sprawled all over downtown from Third Street Park, to Cox Capitol Theatre and Crazy Bull on Second Street, to the numerous hot spots on Cherry Street, including the 567 Center for Renewal, Theater Macon, the Hummingbird Bar and Taproom, the Wall and Fowl Play.

Although the event extended throughout the evening of Saturday, March 29, most of the party did not kick into full swing until about 7 p.m.

Sarah Harrell from Savannah was in town visiting her sister when the pair decided to visit the free party held at Third Street Park and listen to musical covers performed by the band One Horse Parade.

She said that although Savannah has a music festival, it does not quite rival the communal feel and good times enjoyed at the Cherry Blossom Festival.

Students showed up to support Mercer University’s own Bootz & Katz at the Wall around 9:30 p.m., and the talk of most “crawlers” was the Drivin’ N Cryin’ show at 11 p.m. at the Hummingbird.

At the Cox Theatre, though, a different atmosphere clinged to the air. People gamboled about on the dance floor, enjoying the modern contortions and raspy harmonies of the southern rock group from South Carolina, Cranford Hollow, who showcased the uncommonality of a violin player and feature a local bass player from Milledgeville, Ga.

Jimmy Monk, a gentleman from Warner Robins who attended the shows at the Cox Theatre with his girlfriend and friends from Hawkinsville, Ga., said he enjoyed the distinctness of the violin player.

“My girlfriend’s mother was a violin player,” he said as he pointed behind him to where his girlfriend was standing. “They [Cranford Hollow] have an Irish sound to them. They’re great,” Monk said about the band.

Many had mixed reviews about whether the concert crawl was an overall better event than the formerly held street party, but the majority of attendees were first-time, newcomers to the Cherry Blossom Festival altogether, like Orange County, Calif., resident Darlene Catuara who was listening to the Roadkill Ghost Choir at the Hummingbird with her high school friend Cathy.

They came to check out a few bands but ended up really savoring the acts. Catuara called the atmosphere of the festival lovely, creating fun for all ages and giving the whole community a chance to come together. In her eyes, Macon contrasted very favorably to the “stuffiness of the people in Orange County.”

Still want to experience the musical excitement of the Cherry Blossom Festival and afraid that you’ve missed out until next year? Never fear! Two more opportunities to enjoy music brought to the public by the Cherry Blossom Festival are right around the corner.

The World Music Program featuring the Mercer University Children’s Choir, which gives students the opportunity to develop their talents at a young age with Townsend School of Music faculty and staff, will be performing at the Historic Douglass Theatre on April 6 at 3 p.m. Admission is free with pin or $10 otherwise.


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