DreamOn Pittsburgh festival offers up music, ice cream in Market Square

| Tuesday, April 8, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Two of life's most powerful forces for good — sweets and sounds — combine April 11 to 13 in Market Square for the debut of DreamOn Pittsburgh.

Billed as the first ever Ice Cream and Music Festival, the free-admission, family-friendly outdoor event is a celebration of the region's homegrown talent, 25 musical acts representing a variety of genres.

It also is an opportunity to support need-based causes, or “dreams,” of Pittsburgh-area residents and nonprofits, by purchasing any of 75 flavors from Pittsburgh's Dream Cream Ice Cream parlor.

Customers can designate 25 percent of their purchase to one of 75 causes. Dream Cream and Omicelo, a Pittsburgh music-and-lifestyle collective, is presenting the festival in association with the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership.

Pittsburgh natives Margot Bingham, a star of HBO's hit “Boardwalk Empire,” actress and national model Tunisha Hubbard, and national touring comedian J. Russ are three of the festival hosts.

The best part of the concept, says Jasu Sims, co-founder and senior vice president of communications at Omicelo, is that “the community comes together, as a collective, to support the dreams of its own community.”

“The fact that dreams range from personal to professional, academic to medical, artistic and everything in between is most profound, in this case, awesome, because it says that all dreams are worthy, and we together, as a community, can support each other to achieve our dreams. That's big.”

Pittsburgh singer-songwriter Joel Ansett, who opens the April 12 program at 12:15 p.m., enthusiastically agrees. “The community-building power of the arts isn't utilized nearly as much as it should be, and I'm thrilled to see the folks at DreamOn making that a strong point of emphasis,” he says. “Music and ice cream are two very good things, and it only makes sense that we should be using them to serve even bigger dreams and causes.”

Ice cream is “an easy way to change the world,” says multigenre artist Jasmine Tate. “I hope people are inspired by the talent coming out of the city. There are so many working the open-mic-night scene that are extremely talented.”

The Grammy-nominated American-Dutch, R&B/electronica/hip-hop duo, the Foreign Exchange, will perform a free headlining concert in Market Square at 10 p.m. April 11.

That follows an exclusive 6:30 p.m. April 11 red-carpet film screening (tickets, $20; www.omicelo.com) of the contemporary romantic drama “The End Again,” starring “Scandal's” Columbus Short and his wife, Tanee McCall-Short, at Wood Street Galleries. It features the music of the Foreign Exchange, who will take part in a talk-back session with filmmakers, following the screening.

Bingham says she is “super-excited” to introduce the Foreign Exchange, and praises the festival and its concept as “a phenomenal idea.”

“For one weekend, you can locate yourself in one place and feel like you are getting a piece of every different neighborhood,” she says. “It's awesome that Pittsburgh is doing something to help people within the community, instead of waiting for others to do it. There is enough power and talent within the city to accomplish that.”

Tunisha Hubbard, who participated in the “My Black Is Beautiful” campaign for Proctor & Gamble, also will introduce acts April 11 until 3:30 p.m., as well as facilitate the film talk-back. Bingham will take over hosting the rest of the day.

“(DreamOn) is just another example showing we don't have to do things on our own. We can still attain our own goals and still help others,” says Hubbard, who now lives in Los Angeles. “I'm really big on bringing people together and letting them know that your strength together will become so much stronger and that you don't have to wait to pursue your dreams.”

Comedian J. Russ of Forest Hills, hosting “Church and Family Day” April 13, appreciates that the festival affords so many independent artists a showcase in front of an audience who otherwise may not have been able to see them.

“Since the beginning of time, music has been used to inspire us, help us through hard times and lift us when we are down,” Russ says. “You mix that with two scoops of chocolate-chip cookie dough, and you are on cloud nine.”

Music gives everyone a “beautiful connection,” says Michael Linder of Aspinwall, lead singer of the now Los Angeles-based rockers, 28 North, whose name references the Allegheny Valley Expressway. Headlining at 10:15 p.m. April 12 is a dream come true, Linder says.

The festival will be captured on film for live-stream access at www.omicelo.com.

Rex Rutkoski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4664 or rrutkoski@tribweb.com

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