Local Commentary

Guest Commentary: Tinner Hill Music Festival is a Chance to Dance, Love & Hope

By Tori McKinney

Music, food, and culture: all part of the pure celebration of being alive in our diverse D.C., Maryland, Virginia communities, and worldwide. The Tinner Hill Music Festival promises to bring us that and more. With a wide-ranging lineup of musicians and genres including Blues, Funk, and Reggae, this year’s Festival kicks off this Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021, at 11 a.m. at Cherry Hill Park, Falls Church, VA. The music festival is presented by The City of Falls Church and the Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation.

The festival is the premier charity event for the Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation, a registered nonprofit organization whose mission is to present and celebrate the African American legacy and promote racial reconciliation. Established in 1997 to preserve the early civil rights history of Falls Church and its surrounding vicinity, the Foundation has shared the civil rights history of Northern Virginia in schools, exhibits, and regional programs.

In addition to its music festival, the Foundation sponsors programs as well as community events that resurrect the rich and vibrant past of the African American communities of Falls Church and Northern Virginia. The Foundation’s newest initiative is a soon-to-be citywide mural project. “Written in Stone” is a series of exciting, large-scale, inspiring and educational murals and sidewalk trails in the Tinner Hill Historic District/South Washington Street Corridor. Proceeds from the music festival will contribute to that project.

For the past 27 years, the Foundation has produced this joyous festival in Falls Church. Initially, it took place in the Tinner Hill historic neighborhood on South Washington St. It then moved to the high school campus until finally settling in Cherry Hill Park. We’re thrilled to welcome everyone back to the park to be a part of this experience.

We’re excited to announce Tinner Hill Music Festival 2021 Stage Sponsor Falls Church Distiller’s. In addition to the amazing music we have in store, there will be several interactive villages brought to you by our generous sponsors throughout the park. Tinner Hill Heritage Village will give visitors the opportunity to learn more about the Heritage Foundation. Wearable and wall art can be found in The Artist Village. Children and grown-ups will delight in The Kids’ Village featuring face painting by Vienna Singing Princesses, storytelling and even a puppy petting party! The Relaxation Village will offer chair-massages, yoga and other stress relieving activities including a hammock hangout.

And no festival is complete without sumptuous barbecue. This year we have a New Orleans Cajun food truck, Baddpizza pizza, and more will also be available. Craft beer, wine and other adult libations will be offered in The ROCK STAR Beer Garden.

Our amazing lineup takes the stage in Cherry Hill Park at 11 a.m. The B.B. King Blues Band Experience features Michael Lee of “The Voice,” alongside the musicians who traveled the world with “The King of The Blues” as well as two of his daughters, Shirley King and Claudette King.

Bonerama, a New Orleans high energy brass funk rock band fronted by four trombonists will also be with us. Whether it’s their inventive covers or funky, rocking originals, I can assure you that Bonerama will take you on the most memorable “RIDE ON THE SLIDE!”

Returning to our stage for a second time are The Legendary Wailers featuring Julian “Junior” Marvin. It’s time for “One Love” and thanks to Junior, Bob Marley’s friend and guitarist, we’ll have plenty of it. This is reggae played in the true spirit of Marley. And, speaking of love, during one of the breaks, you’re invited to a photo-op at the Virginia Tourism LOVE sign.

Vintage #18 is also returning to our stage for a second time. As their many fans can attest, this outstanding area Blues band brings the WOW factor. Not only will you hear it, you’ll see it when vocalist Robbin Kapsalis takes the stage in one of her spectacular white beaded dresses.

The Twin Brothers Band who have entertained Richmond audiences for several years, have recently relocated to the Arlington area. These identical twins and their band play Blues, Rock & more.

Eric Scott, a bassist, vocalist and composer whose music is full of honesty, soul, and the celebration of life’s joy and pain, will also appear at the day-long concert.

East of the River Steelband plays Caribbean and Calypso music, R&B, Jazz, Hip Hop, and Gospel. Since its founding in 1993, this D.C. youth group has performed at a variety of events. The program provides music training as well as cultural education through its steel pan and youth development programs.

Rocknoceros has found its way into the hearts of music-lovers of all ages. Their performances are guaranteed fun for toddlers, children, and the young at heart.

Special thanks to all of our Sponsors, Donors, and Volunteers who make this event an epic success — we could not do this without you. See you this Saturday!

Tickets can be found here or at Tinner Hill’s website.

Tori McKinney is the Executive Producer of the Tinner Hill Music Festival and a board member of the Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation