Anyone who delights in surprises is sure to enjoy the variety of performers at the annual Crazy Quilt Music Festival hosted by the New Deal Café on Saturday at Roosevelt Center in Greenbelt.
The free, day-long event features nine acts, most of them musical, performing on the hour starting at 11 a.m.
“The acts are all different,” said Joe Harris, who coordinates the performers for the event.
“We try to bring a variety of musical genres,” he said.
Arts and crafts vendors will be present on site, and food is available at the New Deal Café and additional neighboring restaurants.
New this year will be five members of Penthouse Basements, an improv comedy troupe based in the Washington, D.C., metro area.
“You combine elements of acting with thinking on your feet, and it’s never the same,” said long-time member Pete Pinocci, who grew up in Prince George’s County, graduated from High Point High School in Beltsville and now lives in Hagerstown.
Pinocci, who has also done stand-up comedy, performed some of his comedic songs with guitar three months ago at the New Deal Café.
Working with an improv troupe means working as a team, he said. The troupe asks the audience to suggest elements of a scene, something like ex-spouses bumping into each other in a mall, then takes the action from there.
“If the audience starts laughing, it motivates you and you run with it,” said Pinocci. “You have no idea what it’s going to be going into it.”
Kicking off Saturday’s festivities will be The Bele Bele Rhythm Collective lead by Kristen Arant, known as “the drum lady.”
Bele Bele is a diverse group of women from the Washington area who draw from the rhythms and drums of West Africa.
They will be followed by Sahel, another diverse group of musicians playing a variety of instruments. Sahel refers to the southern Sahara stretching across Africa.
“I see the two opening acts as complementary,” said singer/songwriter Harris, who will also perform with his fiancé, Hillary Gottemoeller, as the duet, “The Bachelor & the Bad Actress.”
Harris, who calls the two-person act “absurdist honky tonk,” has also performed with Gottemoeller as part of the “The Nice Trys.”
Returning to the festival this year will be Machines on Vacation, a string quartet with music composed by Ethan Balis of Silver Spring, who adds guitar and tones from a synthesizer to create a unique sound.
Balis, who grew up in Montgomery County, calls it “weirdly arranged pop music.” The group will be playing mostly original compositions, including “Not Today” and “ Waving Goodbye,” which it performed last year.
Also returning will be Ace Elijah, a singer/songwriter from Annapolis now living in Brooklyn, who incorporates jazz, blues and music by legends like Irving Berlin, Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole into his act.
In addition, the Galt Line, a “rootsy, screamin’ swing duo,” according to its website, will present its mix of R&B, punk, rockabilly, Western swing, jump blues and Gypsy jazz.
Also performing will be ilyAIMY (I Love You And I Miss You), an acoustic band from Baltimore that plays everything from rock to folk to soul to bluegrass.
Wrapping it up at the end of the day will be Cold Hard Cash, a tribute band that honors the music and spirit of Johnny Cash.
“[The festival] is more about doing something interesting,” said Balis about the variety of performers.
“If you attract listeners who come for something interesting, it makes for an interesting event,” he said.