After a two-year hiatus, WTMD’s First Thursday festival concert series has returned to Canton Waterfront Park.
After a two-year hiatus, WTMD’s First Thursday festival concert series has returned to Canton Waterfront Park.

Why let the weekend have all the fun? Get the party started early with First Thursday, radio station WTMD’s outdoor concert series at Canton Waterfront Park.

The next First Thurdsay event kicks off at 5:30 p.m., June 2, and will showcase local and national talent along with food and other vendors and a Made in Baltimore Makers Village, featuring handcrafted goods from over 25 local artisans, makers and manufacturers.

This is the 15th year for First Thursday. But for two years, the event was held online only – a casualty of Covid, which put a halt to most Baltimore-area outdoor events. May 2022 marked its in-person return.

The May kick-off attracted an estimated 10,000 people, and organizers say they expect the same turnout next week, if not more.

“After everything we have been through over the past two years, people just want to get out and hear live music again,” said Carrie Evans, WTMD’s interim program director and afternoon drive host. “With Artscape cancelled this year (the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts said more time is needed to plan a return of Artscape and other major festivals), this is one of the largest free events offered to the public. We get to share our love of music and champion local artists.”

Headliners for June’s First Thursday include alt-pop artist Beabadoobee, indie rock band Momma and The Mike McHenry Tribe.

Beabadoobee, a Filipino-British singer-songwriter, whose real name is Beatrice Laus, hit the music scene when the remix of her song, Coffee featuring Powfu, went viral online, resulting in millions of streams of her work. The Dirty Hit Records’ artist’s performance in Canton comes before she makes her debut at the Governor’s Ball Music Festival in New York and the Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island this summer.

Polyvinyl artist Momma has been called an alt-rock carnival ride by Rolling Stone. Etta Friedman and Allegra Weingarten make up the duo. Friedman and Weingarten met in high school and continued through college. In 2018, they released their debut EP, Thanks Come Again and Interloper right after that. The band mostly plays the LA scene. For followers of underground and alt-rock music, Momma gives Veruca Salt and The Breeders vibes.

Michael McHenry, namesake of The Michael McHenry Tribe, has been called a guitar virtuoso. The group combines funk with rock and their sets include everything from Marvin Gaye to Led Zeppelin.

McHenry was born and raised in Annapolis and now lives in Towson. The rest of the Tribe includes brothers Eric and Marty Brossard, on bass and drums with McHenry on the guitar. McHenry has jammed with the likes of George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic, Sheena Easton and David Cassidy over his more than 40-year career, which included at times being on the payroll of Motown Records. McHenry said he is looking forward to playing to a larger audience at First Thursday, since the group, these days, plays mostly local gigs.

“It’s always good to play to a larger audience,” McHenry said. “This exposes you to people who may not have heard you before. This is a bigger thrill for us.” McHenry said the group will drop a new EP the day after their appearance at First Thursday, with their hour-long set including some of that new music.

The main sponsor of First Thursday is Brewers Hill through funding by Obrecht Commercial Real Estate, which owns and manages Brewers Hill properties. David Knipp, Obrecht’s vice president, said he looks forward to the annual event, which he said gets better and better each year. “The event has exceeded our expectations,” Knipp said. “It’s a great reflection of Brewers Hill and Canton.” The best part of the event, Knipp joked, is that it’s on a school night with a hard stop,. “We get to hear great bands and get home at a reasonable hour.”

WTMD’s First Thursday runs through September. Doors open at 5 and music starts at 5:30 p.m. The festival ends at 10 p.m., and will be held rain or shine. No outside alcohol, coolers or glass containers are permitted. For more information, visit

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Walinda West

Walinda West is an experienced communications professional who has served a variety of clients at the local, state and national level and is a longtime writer for Baltimore Fishbowl.