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Al Green, Snoop Dogg headline this weekend's 59th Cincinnati Music Festival

Snoop Dogg wears gold-rimmed glasses a black hoodie and a gold chain
Richard Shotwell/Richard Shotwell/Invision
FILE - In this Nov. 14, 2019, file photo, Snoop Dogg attends 2019 AFI Fest opening night premiere of "Queen and Slim" in Los Angeles.

Al Green and Snoop Dogg are in Cincinnati this week for one of the city's largest tourism events: the Cincinnati Music Festival kicks off Thursday for the 59th year.

Thursday's performance at the Andrew J. Brady Music Center is a celebration of the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, with Slick Rick, Doug E. Fresh, Rakim, and Big Daddy Kane; the show is already sold out.

Paycor Stadium hosts the festival on Friday and Saturday.

"I think it's going to be a real exciting thing for people to see Al Green, because he just doesn't tour too much anymore," said festival producer Joe Santangelo. "And Saturday, everybody is talking about Snoop, of course. I don't think Martha Stewart is going to be with him but you know, you never know."

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Santangelo says about 80% of attendees come from out of town, but he appreciates the local support as well.

"With the problems initiated with COVID, if Hamilton County hadn't stepped up and helped us a lot over the last couple years, we might not even be here," he said.

The festival was on pause for two years during the pandemic, returning last year with Janet Jackson's sold-out show. Hamilton County Commissioners approved a $750,000 tourism grant for the music festival this year.

"And I'm extremely grateful to have a partner like the Cincinnati Bengals," Santangelo said. "I think they have gone out of their way to make sure that this event stays in Cincinnati for a long time."

Santangelo says up to 60,000 people are expected to attend over the course of the three-day event — a bit less than last year.

"I think last year was an exceptional year because we were off for two years with the pandemic," he said. "But you know, we're going to have very good crowds and we think it'll be another good year."

Several events are planned to coordinate with the festival, including the long-awaited grand opening of the Black Music Walk of Fame. The attraction in front of the Andrew J. Brady Music Center has been under construction for close to two years and was originally supposed to open during last year’s festival. The opening is Saturday, July 22, at noon.

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Meanwhile, Festival 513 is back for its 17th year. The free event offers merchandise and food vendors on Friday and Saturday along Freedom Way just outside Paycor Stadium.

A panel discussion about hip-hop and activism is at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center on Thursday afternoon. Rapper Big Daddy Kane and Dr. Hasan Jeffries will discuss clips from the PBS documentary Fight the Power: How Hip-Hop Changes the World. Big Daddy Kane performs Thursday night as part of the festival.

Local Government Reporter with a particular focus on Cincinnati; experienced journalist in public radio and television throughout the Midwest. Enthusiastic about: civic engagement, public libraries, and urban planning.