New Cedar Rapids festival celebrates rhythm and soul

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CR Rhythm and Soul Fest on the River

McGrath Amphitheatre — Saturday, July 22 at 4:30 p.m.

Cedar Rapids celebrates its culture and community on Saturday. — photo by Stijn Debrouwere

This Saturday, July 22, the sounds of soul will waft over the Cedar River with Cedar Rapids’ first Rhythm and Soul on the River festival. For event organizer Richard Burdine, building the fest has been a labor of love.

“I’m a big city guy,” Burdine said in an email, “who wanted to bring a flavor of music that wasn’t being played here and people would appreciate — which they will.”

Acts from across the region will be coming to Cedar Rapids for the event. Chicago comedian Keith “Big Keef” Jackson will host. Musicians include Dubuque’s Sid V and the Human Resources; Chicago funk band Fantasy Band featuring Lady Patice and Motown Reflections; and the Kevin Hayden Band out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Burdine is a musician himself, playing piano at his church and a wide assortment of styles the rest of the week. “I play soul,jazz, blues and old school music as well,” Burdine said.

The CR Rhythm and Soul Fest on the River is about more than just music, though. Burdine anticipates an afternoon and evening full of fun, “almost like a family reunion.”

In addition to performers, the fest will feature a Kids Zone — with face painting, a bounce house and more — as well as a wide variety of food and merchandise vendors. Lawn chairs are encouraged, so that attendees can settle in to enjoy the full six hours of entertainment.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for teens. Kids 12 and under are admitted free. Tickets are available online or at the gate the day of the event.

Burdine, who is looking for partners for next year, is “hoping to turn this into an annual event,” he said, “and keep people excited about coming out.”

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