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Midday

Photo courtesy Macmillan Publishing

Monday, April 22, is Earth Day, an annual day of demonstrations, actions, and workshops to raise public awareness about the environment, first observed in 1970. 

Have nearly 50 years of Earth Days helped move the needle when it comes to public concern about the environment?  The existential crisis posed by climate change -- the warming of the earth's atmosphere caused by the world's addiction to fossil fuels --  is the subject of the new book by environmentalist Bill McKibben.  It's a book that widens our lens to include not just the climate crisis but also the amazingly rapid advances in artificial intelligence and human genetic engineering that pose equally profound threats to humanity. 

McKibben, who serves as the Schumann Distinguished Scholar in Environmental Studies at Middelbury College in his home state of Vermont, is also the co-founder of one of the world’s largest climate action groups, 350.org.  In his 1989 best-seller, The End of Nature, McKibben was one of the first writers to warn of the dangers of global warming.  With his new book, thirty years later, he issues an even more dire warning about the threats humanity is facing, and offers hopeful ideas for surviving them.    The book is called Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?

Bill McKibben joins us from the studios of NPR in Washington.

Photo for MET by Joe Williams

It's Thursday, and Midday theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck is back with another of her weekly reviews of the regional stage. Today, she spotlights the late Sam Shepard's 1978  play, Curse of the Starving Classand the new production by Maryland Ensemble Theatre in Frederick.

Shepard's dark comedy about the elusiveness of the American dream is set in a farmhouse in the American West.  The Tate family is struggling to survive, and connect with each other, in a harsh and challenging world that -- 40 years after Shepard penned it -- still resonates with our troubled times.

Peter Wray directs the play, which stars Julie Herber as Ella, Sean Byrne as Wesley, Karli Cole as Emma, Tad Janes as Weston, J.D. Sivert as Taylor, Jack Evans as Ellis and Steve Custer as Malcolm.

Curse of the Starving Class is at Maryland Ensemble Theatre in Frederick until April 28th.

Public Domain

Last month alone, Americans were bothered by more than 5 billion robocalls -- those unwelcome, computer-automated telemarketing or scam calls that are jangling our phones -- and our nerves -- with growing frequency. Is there any way to win the war on robocalls? And what can Congress do to rein in the scammers? Joining us to explore these questions are Washington Post tech columnist Geoffrey Fowler, University of Maryland computer science professor Raymond Tu and Consumer Reports policy analyst Maureen Mahoney.

PIXABAY

A warning to listeners who may be tuning in with young children: we will be talking about mature topics today on this edition of Midday Culture Connections.

On today's Midday Culture Connections with Dr. Sheri Parks: pulling back the curtain on the insidious, hidden world of sex trafficking. Sex trafficking is the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the United States. In leafy suburbs, seedy city streets and posh hotels reports of the sexual exploitation of women and children have skyrocketed. Our guests today are: Dr. Sheri Parks, the Vice President for Strategic Initiatives at the Maryland Institute College of Art; Jeanne Allert, the founder and executive director of the Samaritan Women Institute for Shelter Care; and Jessica Emerson, founder of the Human Trafficking Prevention Project at the University of Baltimore. 

Anyone who suspects human trafficking is occurring is encouraged to call the National Human Trafficking Hotline: 1 (888) 373 - 7888.

This conversation is being live-streamed on the WYPR Facebook Page

photo courtesy Center for Science in the Public Interest

For most of the past half-century, the Center for Science in the Public Interest has been on the front line of a campaign to improve food safety and nutrition in the United States.  In 1990, the non-profit Center helped push Congress to pass the landmark legislation requiring standardized nutrition information labels on all food packages.   It helped win passage of laws requiring calorie information on chain-restaurant menus, and it went to court to stop deceptive advertising and marketing of foods, sugary beverages and dietary supplements. It’s lobbied to strengthen food safety laws and ban junk food from schools, and it prodded the Food and Drug Administration to eliminate artificial trans-fats from the food supply.

Tom's guest today is Dr. Michael Jacobson, who co-founded the Center for Science in the Public Interest in 1971.  A microbiologist, he was the executive director of the non profit food watchdog group until 2017.  He now serves as CSPI's Senior Scientist.   Jacobson is the author of numerous books, including Eater’s Digest: the Consumer’s Fact Book of Food Additives, and Nutrition Scoreboard.

Dr. Jacobson will be in Baltimore Wednesday, April 17th, to take part in a public panel discussion called Pleasures or Poisons: The Science & Culture of Food.  The event is part of the Great Talk Series, taking place at the Double Tree by Hilton - Baltimore North Hotel, located at 1726 Reistertown  Road in Pikesville.  The discussion gets underway at 7pm.  For event details and ticketing information, click here

Dr. Michael Jacobson joins us today from the studios of NPR in Washington, DC.   

Courtesy of Art and Remembrance

Today, a look at two museums in Baltimore with current exhibits that put a spotlight on individuals who are linked by their love of working with fabric, and the horrors of the Holocaust.

Rebecca Hoffberger is the founder, director and principal curator of the American Visionary Art Museum. The AVAM exhibition “Esther and The Dream of One Loving Human Family” features the embroidery and fabric collages of Esther Kinitz.

Marvin Pinkert is the Executive Director and CEO of the Jewish Museum of Maryland. The Jewish Museum’s current exhibition is called “Stitching History from the Holocaust,” which features fashion design by Hedy Strad, a Czech Jew who perished in the Holocaust, the World War 2-era genocide of millions of European Jews by Nazi Germany.

A companion exhibit, "Fashion Statement," is also on view. 

We livestreamed this conversation at the WYPR Facebook page.  To see that video, click here.

Steve Ross joins me now. The New York Times has called him the “Crown Prince of New York Cabaret. He is known for his interpretations of the Great American Song Book, particularly the work of Noel Coward, George Gershwin and Cole Porter.

He has performed around the world, and tonight he’ll be at the piano at Germano’s Piattini here in Baltimore. Tonight’s show, "An American in Paris,” features songs by composers from both sides of the Atlantic, from Edith Piaf and Cole Porter to Maurice Chevalier and Jacques Brel.  Doors open at 6:00. Show starts at 7:30. And tomorrow morning at 11:30, Steve will conduct a cabaret master class.  Click here for all the details. 

We livestreamed this conversation on the WYPR Facebook page.  Click here to see the video of Steve Ross, which starts at the 38 minute mark.  

Photo by Pableaux Johnson

Today, a conversation about climate change -- and about what may have been our best opportunity to address climate change -- an opportunity that came and went decades ago.

Tom's guest is Nathaniel Rich, the author of the new book “Losing Earth: A Recent History.”  The book is an alarming critique of the decade between 1979 and 1989, when all the pieces seemed to be in place to reduce carbon emissions in the U.S, including bipartisan political support and even support among energy company executives.  So what went wrong in the decade that followed? 

Nathaniel Rich is a writer-at-large for the New York Times.  He’ll be talking about his new book at Baltimore's Bird in Hand bookstore, on Friday at 7 pm, in conversation with ProPublica journalist Alec MacGillis. 

Photo by Glenn Ricci

It's Thursday, and time again for our weekly visit with theater critic J. Wynn  Rousuck and her reviews of the regional stage.  Today, she tells us about Pantheon, the latest eclectic production from Happenstance Theater that's getting its world premiere at Baltimore's Theatre Project

In this new musical work, the award-winning Happenstance quintet romps through a series of narratives that blend Greek mythology with a lean 1940s aesthetic, and take on contemporary issues ranging from the challenged dignity of work to the perils of climate change.

Happenstance Theater features the ensemble talents of  Mark Jaster, Sabrina Mandell, Gwen Grastorf, Sarah Olmsted Thomas, and Alex Vernon, and in this production, the musical scorings of Mark's brother, Craig Jaster.

Happenstance Theater's Pantheon continues at The Theater Project through Sunday April 14.

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

It’s Midday on MoneyWith this season’s tax filing deadline fast approaching -- that’s by midnight on Monday, April 15, for you last-minute filers! – most Americans by now have encountered some of the biggest changes to the US tax code in more than three decades.  Whether we wind up paying more taxes this year or less, planning for the future and increasing our financial literacy are always smart moves.  Regardless of how much money we have, how well we manage it has a huge impact on how financially empowered we feel. 

Today, two experts join Tom in Studio A to help us up our games a bit when it comes to saving and investing.

Thisisbossi

The 439th Maryland General Assembly is in the history books. Legislators conducted business during the long final day of the session yesterday while mourning the loss of Speaker of the House Mike Busch, who succumbed to pneumonia on Sunday afternoon. 

Today, Tom unpacks which bills passed and which failed to prevail in the General Assembly. This year's legislature introduced 2,497 bills over the last 90 days. Tom is joined by three guests:

Rachel Baye covers the Statehouse for WYPR; Bryan Sears writes about all things Annapolis for the Daily Record; and Josh Kurtz is the founder and editor of Maryland Matters.

Photo Courtesy Flickr

On today's show, Delegate Maggie McIntosh joins us with reaction to the passing of Maryland House Speaker Michael Busch, who died Sunday, one day before the 2019 General Assembly Session was scheduled to conclude.

Later, as the leadership in Annapolis changes, what’s ahead for Baltimore City?  This morning, the City Council unanimously called on Mayor Catherine Pugh to resign immediately.  Pugh is the latest in a distressingly long list of Baltimore officials caught up in corruption scandals.  How can public trust in government be restored? 

Tom is joined in studio by media consultant and political strategist Catalina Byrd; Director of Public Policy for Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle Dayvon Love; and Sean Yoes, the Baltimore Editor of the AFRO, and author of Baltimore After Freddie Gray: Real Stories from One of America’s Great Imperiled Cities.

Graphic courtesy BSO

To begin today's Midday on Music program, a conversation about the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the largest arts organization in the state of Maryland, and one of only 17 full-time orchestras in the United States.  That means that the players of the BSO are hired for the full year, with the vacation and health benefits typical with most full-time jobs.  Many orchestras around the country, including some in fairly large cities, hire their players for only 9 or 10 months every year .

Whether or not the BSO will remain a full-time orchestra is at the heart of a contract dispute that has been going on between the players and BSO management since last fall.  Management of the orchestra points to the fact that the BSO has lost an average of $1.6 million dollars per year for the past 10 years.  Supporters of the BSO are crossing their fingers that the General Assembly will provide supplemental funding for the BSO.  The bill currently under consideration provides an additional $1.6 million dollars for each of the next two years.  This is in addition to the funds the BSO is already scheduled to receive through its annual grant from the MD State Arts Council.  The measure has passed in the House, and it was voted out of committee in the Senate Thursday.  A vote on the Senate floor was expected Friday.**

**April 8 Update: The BSO emergency funding measure -- which was renamed last week by a Senate Committee as the John C. Merrill Act -- was approved by the full Senate on Monday April 8. Once the House concurs to the name change, the bill will be passed, and sent to the Governor for his signature.

In addition to its money woes, the BSO also has a diversity problem.  In our majority black city, only one member of the orchestra is African American.  Why is that and why does it matter?

These challenges are not unique to the BSO.  Does the BSO face problems that are all that different from those facing orchestras in other cities?  What would it mean to the city, and what would it mean to you, if the BSO weren’t a 52-week orchestra?  

Joining Tom to discuss the road ahead for the BSO are Fred Bronstein, the Dean of the Peabody Institute, and Tim Smith, the former classical music critic for the Baltimore Sun.  

Today's Midday on Music conversations are being live-streamed on WYPR's Facebook page. You can watch the video here

poster image from musicwithease.com

In Part I of today's Midday on Music program, we talked about some of the financial challenges the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is experiencing.   In Part II of our program today, we're going to consider the unique challenges facing Baltimore's opera community

As expensive as it is to assemble and rehearse a world class symphony orchestra, it’s even more expensive to stage a grand opera.  Not only do you need an orchestra, you need a cast of principal singers, a chorus, costumes, a set, a lighting designer, a director, multiple stage-hands and more to create that magical world where people sing on stage as naturally as the rest of us speak in real life. 

Those are just some of the reasons that it’s been hard in recent years for Grand Opera to succeed in Baltimore.  After nearly seven decades, the Baltimore Opera Company went out of business in 2009.  Its successor, the Lyric Opera of Baltimore shuttered its doors in 2017.  And now, one of the area’s most accomplished operatic artists is hoping that three times is the charm.  James Harp is the founder and artistic director of Maryland Opera.  He joins Tom in Studio A, along with local opera soprano, Colleen Daly, to talk about Maryland Opera's inaugural season.

Photo courtesy Derrick Wang

Part III of Midday on Music opens with a brief snippet from a comic opera by Derrick Wang, a work that the composer -- who is also an attorney and constitutional scholar -- says was inspired by the friendship between two iconic figures in American jurisprudence: Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the late Antonin Scalia, who passed away in 2016.  Wang's opera is called Scalia/Ginsburg, and it will receive its local premiere tonight at the Baltimore Concert Opera

The Baltimore Concert Opera is an opera company that breaks the mold.  It doesn't present fully staged productions with costumes and sets and a full orchestra, but over the past 10 years, its presentations of both classic operatic fare and lesser known works have attracted a strong following.   Its productions, including the ones being offering this weekend, consistently sell out.  As of September 1st, an all-female leadership team--unusual in classical music--including Artistic and General Director Julia Cooke and Music Director Rachelle Jonck, will guide Baltimore Concert Opera into the future.

Photo courtesy Monkeypaw Productions

Today, on the April edition of  Midday at the Movies, Tom spotlights director Jordan Peele's new horror-suspense flick, Us.  Joining him in the studio are movie mavens Jed Dietz, the founding director of the Maryland Film Festival and Parkway Theater, and Elissa Blount Moorhead, a Baltimore filmmaker and creative partner at TGEN Film Studios. They discuss the cinematic structures and social themes of Us, a record-breaking box-office hit that's building on the success of Peele's 2017 Oscar-winning (Best Original Screenplay) debut film, Get Out.  

They also discuss other notable new films --  including Apollo 11the powerful new documentary of NASA's historic manned mission to the moon in 1969, and The Burial of Kojo, a breakthrough feature-film directing/writing debut by Ghanaian-born hip-hop artist Blitz "the Ambassador" Bazawule, who lives and works today in Brooklyn, New York. Bazawule's film is being released and distributed by Ava DuVernay's company, Array, and is now streaming on Netflix.

Photography by Brandon W. Vernon

It's Thursday, and that means it's time for our regular studio sojourn with theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck, who joins us every week with her reviews of the Maryland regional stage. Today, she tells us about Chesapeake Shakespeare Company's new production of  Henry IV Part II, one of the Bard's major historical plays, and the repertory companion to Henry IV, Part I, which the Company performed earlier this season and in tandem with Part II on a series of recent Saturday marathons.

In this historical sequel rich with explorations of paternal relationships, King Henry IV's rogue son, Prince Hal - a carousing and impulsive young man in the sway of a friendship with a rough-edged knight named Falstaff - faces new responsibilities as the king's health grows increasingly frail, and as the king's armies battle to put down an insurrection. Those armies eventually triumph, and Prince Hal is reconciled with his dying father. And as Hal assumes the throne as King Henry V, he lets Falstaff know their reckless friendship is history. 

Henry IV, Part II is co-directed for the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company by its founder and artistic director Ian Gallanar, and by Company actor and CSC associate artistic director Gerrad Alex Taylor.  The production's cast of more than three dozen actors and musicians features resident Company members Seamus Miller as Prince Hal, Ron Heneghan as King Henry and Gregory Burgess as Falstaff.

Henry IV, Part II continues at Baltimore's Chesapeake Shakespeare Company  through April 7.

Baltimore City Office of the Mayor

It’s been two days since Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh announced that she would be taking an indefinite leave of absence due to her “deteriorating health," according to a statement. She is recovering from pneumonia, and taking a leave of absence on the advice of her physicians. 

There are several elected officials advising her to resign altogether. City Council President Jack Young is now serving as the city’s ex officio Mayor and City Council Vice President Sharon Green Middleton has assumed the duties of City Council President.

Today we welcome four guests to help unpack the unfolding story: 

George Nilson served as the Baltimore City Solicitor in 2010, when then Mayor Sheilah Dixon resigned from office as part of a plea agreement in her conviction on misdemeanor corruption charges. Nick Mosby, who now serves in the Maryland General Assembly, ran against Pugh in the 2016 primary. Sharon Green Middleton represents the 6th District and is currently fulfilling the duties of City Council President. And Zeke Cohen is Councilman for the 1st District. 

Maryland GovPics

Once again, Baltimore is rocked by a scandal at the highest level of government. Mayor Catherine Pugh has begun an indefinite leave of absence, citing the need to recover from pneumonia, amid calls for her to resign permanently from officials in Baltimore and in Annapolis. 

New revelations about business dealings with the University of Maryland Medical System, Kaiser Permanente, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Maryland and the Associated Black Charities have raised new questions about Pugh's conflicts of interest. Governor Larry Hogan has asked the State Prosecutor to launch a formal investigation.

Tom is joined by three guests to help unpack the future of Baltimore: City Councilman Leon Pinkett, former Maryland Deputy Attorney General Thiru Vignarajah and Kevin Rector of The Baltimore Sun. 

By Yianni Mathioudakis/Creative Commons

Two weeks ago, an article appeared in the New York Times Magazine called “The Tragedy of Baltimore: How an American City Falls Apart.” It was written by longtime Baltimore resident and award winning journalist Alec MacGillis. The article painted a grim picture of our city and what we’ve been through in the years since the violence and uprising that followed the death of Freddie Gray in police custody four years ago. Tom spoke with Alec MacGillis about the piece recently.  Today, we continue the conversation about the article. Listeners, what do you think? Did the Times get it right? What about what Baltimore gets right

Al Hutchinson is president and CEO of Visit Baltimore. He is responsible for the city’s convention and tourism industry.

Kirby Fowler is President of the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore, which works with businesses, residents, and community groups to advance the city’s quality of life and attract new investment.

Bishop Douglas Miles was a founding member of BUILD, Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development. He’s been an activist in the community for more than 50 years.

We livestreamed this conversation on the WYPR Facebook page. Click here to see the video.

Photo Courtesy AP/ Manuel Balce Ceneta

On today's News Wrap, President Trump says he’s exonerated, and off the hook.  Democrats in Congress don’t quite agree.  Investigations on numerous fronts continue. 

The President has also moved to completely dismantle Obama Care by joining a legal action that would eliminate the law, and with it, some of its most popular provisions, like coverage for pre-existing conditions.  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has wished the President and Speaker Nancy Pelosi good luck in finding a suitable replacement for the ACA. 

Joshua Gerstein of Politico and Darlene Superville of the Associated Press join us to take a look behind the headlines.

Graphic courtesy Ensemble Galilei

The music that opens this segment is a 16th century song called The Flowers of the Forest. It was written in memory of the thousands of Scottish soldiers who died in battle in 1513.  To this day, this song is played when English or Canadian soldiers are killed in places like Afghanistan.  This recording is the title cut on the latest CD from Ensemble Galilei, an early-music chamber group.

It is also the opening and closing anthem in a program called Between War and Here, a show that includes narration and music inspired by veterans and their experiences in combat.  It’s a unique collaboration between Ensemble Galilei and veteran war correspondents Anne Garrels and Neal Conan, both formerly with NPR. 

Anne Garrels had hoped to join us this afternoon, but she is feeling a bit under the weather.  But we're delighted that Neal Conan is with us here in Studio A.  He’s a former host of All Things Considered and NPR’s Talk of the Nation.  These days, he produces and hosts a podcast for public radio called Truth, Politics and Power… 

Also joining us is Carolyn Surrick, a viola da gamba player who founded Ensemble Galilei twenty-five years ago, and who is the creative force behind Between War and Here.  The show takes its name from the title of a book she published in 2011: a collection of poems inspired by her experiences during seven years of playing concerts for wounded veterans at Washington's Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

photo courtesy Alan Squire Publishing

Tom's guest today is the new Poet Laureate of Maryland, Grace Cavalieri.

It would be selling her talents short if we only called her a “poet.”  She has indeed published more than 20 books of poetry.    But she has also written more than two dozen plays, some of which have premiered here in Baltimore, and she’s penned text and lyrics for opera, TV and film productions as well. 

Grace Cavalieri is also well-known as the host of The Poet and the Poem, a radio interview show she has hosted for 42 years. The show began on Pacifica station WPFW in Washington in 1977 and evolved into a podcast that she produces now with the Library of Congress.  Her interviews with poets are also broadcast around the country by more than 40 member radio stations in the Pacifica Network.

Grace Cavalieri is the founder of several small-press publishing and printing houses.  She teaches and lectures at colleges and universities across the country, and for 25 years, she was the visiting writer at St. Mary’s College in southern Maryland.

Last November, she was appointed by Governor Larry Hogan to be the 10th Poet Laureate of Maryland.   She joins Tom today in Studio A, and addresses our listeners' questions and comments.

This conversation was livestreamed on WYPR's Facebook page, and you can watch the video here.

Photo by Rob Clatterbuck

It's Thursday, and Midday theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck join us with another of her weekly reviews of the Maryland regional stage.  This week, she spotlights Small House, No Secrets, the new musical at Fells Point Corner Theatre, produced as part of the Baltimore Playwrights Festival.

Small House, No Secrets is a collaboration between the celebrated singer-songwriter SONiA Rutstein (aka SONiA disappear fear) (music and lyrics) and playwright Jody Nusholtz (book and lyrics), who is also a writer and communications arts professor at Carroll Community College. 

An exploration of the complexities of sexual identity, friendship, family bonds and faith, the musical is directed at Fells Point Corner Theatre by Miriam Bazensky, and features Annette Mooney Wasno in the lead role as Liz.

Small House No Secrets continues at the Fells Point Corner Theatre through March 31.

AP Images

Today, a conversation about gerrymandering and the future of voting districts. Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in two gerrymandering cases  – one from Maryland, the other from North Carolina.

Here in Maryland, a group of Republican voters contend that the state’s 6th Congressional District was unfairly redrawn in 2011 to favor Democrats. Gerrymandering, or the practice of manipulating voting district boundaries to give political advantage to one party, has a long tradition in America. It enjoys wide bi-partisan support among politicians who rely on it for job security, but polls show that voters strongly disapprove of the practice.  

Tom Wolf, Counsel with the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, and Andy GreenThe Baltimore Sun's Editorial Page Editor, join us to take a closer look. 

PIXABAY

The Kirwan Commission on education reform in Maryland has recommended a re-ordering of our educational priorities. One of the central tenets of the Commission’s approach is to expand early pre-school for three and four year olds.

The data on pre-k might surprise you. A Brookings Institution study argues that there is little correlation between pre-k and academic achievement in elementary school. But scholars have determined that kids in pre-school are more likely to graduate from high school and attend college. And a report by MD Family Network calculates the loss to businesses at nearly two and half billion dollars for parents with kids under the age of five, for time lost at work due to inadequate child care.

Is universal pre-k worth the investment? How much does it really prepare kids for success down the line?  And if the state doesn’t make pre-k programs affordable and accessible to parents, does that decision come with an economic cost? 

Today, a panel of early education experts joins Tom for a closer look at the costs and benefits of pre-k.

Associated Press Photo by Brian Whitte

Last week, amid news reports of self-dealing by members of the board of directors of The University of Maryland Medical System (known as UMMS), the CEO of the system, Robert Chrencik, was placed on a leave of absence while the board hired an outside firm to conduct an audit of the System’s contracting practices and its conflicts-of-interest policies.  Several board members have resigned, including Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, who had served on the UMMS board for more than 18 years.  Other board members who currently have business relationships with the System have also been asked to take a leave of absence from the board.  

When Luke Broadwater of the Sun wrote about the allegations that Mayor Pugh and others were profiting from their seats on the board of the UMMS, reaction in Annapolis was swift, and unequivocal.  Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, Senate President Mike Miller, and Speaker of the House Mike Busch (himself a member of the UMMS board), all condemned the practice of awarding contracts to businesses that were connected to board members.  A bill proposed by Speaker Busch is being fast-tracked through the House, and a bill introduced on the Senate side is also making its way through the legislative process .  Both bills aim to address conflicts of interest and financial disclosures by board members. 

Erica Chambers Photography

Now, time for some Old Time Music...that's the name for a family of traditional Appalachian folk music styles that will be featured at a brand new festival this weekend.  The father-and-son musical duo, Ken and Brad Kolodner, have organized the first-ever Baltimore Old Time Music Festival at the Creative Alliance in East Baltimore.  Starting Friday (3.22.19) and running through Saturday night, there will be performances by dozens of musicians from near and far, a variety of workshops and even a square dance to celebrate the roots and old-time music scene here in Baltimore. 

In addition to the Kolodners, musical acts include the Corn Potato String Band, Molsky’s Mountain Drifters, and the two musical guests who join us now in Studio A. 

Linda Jean Stokley and Montana Hobbs comprise the duo called The Local Honeys.  They’re from Kentucky, and they specialize in the unique string and vocal harmonies of Appalachian folk music, playing both traditional and original songs.  Today in Studio A, the duo play three originals: "The Cigarette Trees," a song Linda Jean wrote about Kentucky's strip mining operations; "The Beattyville Bomber," a song by Montana about some of the folks in her hometown; and a folk tune they learned from songwriter Shirley Collins called "Space Girl."

We livestreamed The LocalHoney's performance today on WYPR's Facebook page. Watch it here.

Twitter

On today's News Wrap: the Mayor of Baltimore seems to think that witch hunts aren’t limited to the Trump administration.  As developments in the ever-evolving saga of the University of Maryland Medical System continue to unfurl, Mayor Catherine Pugh is in the eye of the storm, amid allegations of conflict of interest and self-dealing by her, and nearly a third of the UMMS board. Baltimore Sun reporter Luke Broadwater joins me with the latest in this developing story.

Plus, Governor Hogan slams Democrats as spendthrifts and former Baltimore mayors make the case to keep the Preakness at Pimlico.

WYPR's Rachel Baye and the Baltimore Sun's  Pamela Wood join us with updates on the Maryland General Assembly, as lawmakers in Annapolis enter the homestretch of the 2019 legislative session. 

Photo Courtesy AP/ Patrick Semansky

In last Sunday’s New York Time’s Magazine, Pro Publica reporter Alec MacGillis chronicles the strained relations between the police and impoverished communities since the 2015 uprising.  The story paints a grim picture of our hometown.  The cover is emblazoned with a title that is depressing and sobering:  How an American City Falls Apart:  The Tragedy of Baltimore

Is our city falling apart?  Did the 4 million plus subscribers to the Times get an accurate picture of where we are today, and where we’ve been in the past? 

Alec MacGillis covers politics and government for Pro Publica.  He was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize when he was working at the Baltimore Sun. In 2016, he won the Toner Prize for Excellence in Political Reporting.  In addition to the New York Times, his work has been featured in the New Yorker, the Atlantic and several other national publications.  

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