He was able to maintain his composure while trying to catch his breath as balls of sweat rippled down his face. From a distance his exhaustion was masked behind his radiant smile.
“Check one two,” Black Magic’s lead vocalist Horace Turner said, as he brushed the sweat off his forehead. “Are you all havin’ a good one? We’re just gettin’ started up here. ”
Black Magic has been working to bring back the roots of jazz and blues to Baltimore for more than 2 decades. The 25-year-old group plays it all—from relaxing tempos that draw on the historical jazz roots to up beat funky town songs.
The energizing sounds from the variety of instruments kept the crowd on their feet during the entire performance. “Let’s funk it up,” said Turner. Funky Town was the final song, but it left the crowd thirsting for more once it concluded. Turner and Black Magic will be back at Lexington Market in May.
“I love listening to the Jazz and the Blues bands,” said Suelean Johnson, a Baltimore native. “It reminds me of when my mother and father played Blues.
Nestled in between Eutaw, Lexington, Greene and Saratoga Streets sits Lexington Market.
Since the market first opened in 1782, it has continued to serve as a center for social and cultural activities for the surrounding neighborhoods.
The market features a variety of produce, meat, and fish stands, as well as clothing and jewelry kiosks. In addition, it serves as a weekend grocery store where Baltimoreans can stock up on fresh produce, which is a hard commodity to come by in the middle of a food desert.
“I’ve been coming here since I was a little boy, about 12-years-old,” said Bernard Lowe.
Lowe has lived in Baltimore for 75 years and hasn’t missed a weekend at Lexington Market. He said he’d spend most of his afternoons here listening to the music and catching up with old friends.
“If you’re looking for food, check out Faidley’s Seafood,” said Lowe. “Best seafood in town.”
Tucked away in the back corner of the building is Faidley’s Seafood, one of the famous venues that help attract tourists and locals to the market week after week. Faidley’s
Lexington Market has remained one of the city’s most treasured icons. While the city evolved from an industrial merchant town to a major metropolitan city in America’s East Coast, Lexington Market and the people whose shops it housed remain committed to the same values and principles that it was founded on. The market attracts a diverse group of people–from loyal patrons to first-time visitors. What attracts new and old visitors the most is the market’s unique charm and character.
“Lexington Market, like many places in the city, has its own unique identity,” said Herbert Galloway, one of the many shop owners at the market. “It’s a fusion of Baltimore’s past and its present.”
Sitting on one of the stools outside of Faidley’s was Joe Key, a former Baltimore Police officer. Fresh oysters, and world famous jumbo crab cakes are what most of the customers order.
“These are the best,” said Key. “We come up every month to grab some.”
Key moved out of the city four years ago, due to a job offer in Northern Virginia. However, he doesn’t miss everything about the city.
“The crime rates down,” said Key. “But, so is the population.” City residents have been flocking to the County, due to high crime rates and poor education.
A decade ago, Baltimore was in the FBI’s list of the nation’s most dangerous cities. The crime rate decreased when Fred Bealefeld took the helm at the Baltimore City Police Department. By utilizing a new approach to crime reduction, Bealefeld’s outreach strategy to communities and neighborhoods proved to be successful.
According to the Baltimore City Department of Planning, the total population in of Baltimore City in 2000 was 651, 154 people; however, the population fell in 2010 to 620, 961. These figures suggest that residents are still fleeing the city, regardless of an overall decrease in crime.
Yet, despite the problems that plague the city, Lexington Market continues to stand as a reminder of the city’s values and the greatness of its residents.
“Lexington Market, like all retail operations have been negatively impacted by the recession,” said Casper Genco, Executive Director of Lexington Market. “People that lost their jobs aren’t visiting Lexington Market for lunch.”
City data shows a decrease in discretionary spending among the general population as a result of higher gas prices, higher costs of food, and high unemployment rates.
“For many, wages are not keeping pace with the higher cost of living,” said Genco. “The foot traffic is less and people are spending less. I would estimate that business in the market has been reduced by double digits.”