Tom Tom Festival presents selection of can’t-miss events

Local artwork, eclectic music, insightful discussions abound


The 6th annual Tom Tom Founders Festival showcases local art, innovation and culture.

Courtesy Tom Tom Founders Festival

Thomas Jefferson’s birthday is this Thursday, meaning it’s time for Charlottesville’s annual Tom Tom Founders Festival. Each April, the Tom Tom Foundation organizes a week to celebrate creative expression, emphasizing local artists, musicians and entrepreneurs. Charlottesville’s downtown is transformed through live concerts, innovative art displays and engaging discussions and presentations highlighting ways the community can further foster local art and business. Here are five can’t-miss events at the Tom Tom Founders Festival this year.

Block Parties, April 14-16

The centerpiece of the festival in recent years has been Tom Tom’s block parties — concerts Friday through Sunday in Lee Park showcase live bands of varying music genres. Concerts will run 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, 12 p.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and 2:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday. Notable acts include a Saturday sunset concert by The Mantras and Spiritual Rez — a progressive rock band and a reggae-fusion group — and a Sunday performance by the University’s own Kendall Street Company. The block parties are a great opportunity to experience a mixture of classic and offbeat musical talent.

Art Attack, April 15

On Saturday from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m., Lee Park will be transformed into an outdoor studio when members of the Charlottesville community come out to create works of art in the open air. No professional experience is required — artists of all levels of expertise are welcome. Artists must bring their own supplies, check in at the start of the event and be respectful of their surroundings. This event highlights the importance of local artistic individuality, with the goal of adding a new dimension to the creative process by setting it in the midst everyday life.

Artisanal Tom Tom, April 15-16

More than 60 craft vendors will be displaying and selling their works of art in Lee Park this weekend. Handcrafted furniture, homemade food, sustainable clothing, jewelry and other personal creations will be available for purchase. Artisanal Tom Tom provides the perfect platform for local artists to present their skillfully crafted products and the opportunity for members of the Charlottesville community to support the local art scene. The market will be open 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and 2:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.

Writer in Residence, April 15

Roye Okupe, co-founder of YouNeek Studios, will give a talk about his experience as a writer, artist and entrepreneur. His graphic novel, “E.X.O. The Legend of Wale Williams Part 1,” features a cast of superhero characters in a futuristic Nigeria. Okupe will delve into his creative process and discuss his journey as an author. Learn more about Okupe and his artistic vision at this event, held at 4 p.m. Saturday at Telegraph Art & Comics.

Porchella, April 16

The Tom Tom Festival will wrap up Sunday evening with Porchella, a string of acoustic concerts on the porches of several Belmont neighborhood homes. Diverse styles of music will be represented, ranging from bluegrass to jazz to psychedelic funk rock. Porchella’s casual and intimate setting makes it a fitting end to a festival celebrating local artists and the importance of community involvement. Porchella promises a night of eclectic jams and a sense of neighborly camaraderie. 

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