What: RalphReal in concert at Launch Music Festival
When: 9 p.m. Friday, April 24
Where: Marion Court, 7 E. Marion St., Lancaster
Cost: Free with Regular or VIP Launch Badge, $3 at the door
More information: Visit launchmusicconference.com .
Running errands, going on coffee runs and interviewing rock bands were Ralph Washington's first memories of the Launch Music Conference and Festival about seven years ago.
At that time, he was just an intern with hopes of being on stage at the Lancaster festival, which draws more than 12,000 fans and 100 bands from across the country.
Over the years, Washington, also known as RalphReal (yup, no space), said he was invited to Launch several times as an opener. But this year, the York singer will return for the first time as the headlining act at the Marion Court stage.
"Coming back is going to be a big ordeal," Washington said, especially since he just released his first solo album since 2003 in March. "It's another way to get your music out there and to understand what you have to do in this industry."
Washington was one of 184 acts chosen from 500 submissions this year, according to Launch assistant director Liz Maurer. Acts range from country and Americana to hip hop, metal and everything in between.
"We try to keep a balance between local and regional acts," Maurer said.
Some of this year's local favorites include From Ashes to New, Carousel Kings and One Year Later from Lancaster and Small Town Titans, The Plums and Memoria from York. Festival headliners are Badfish, Atreyu, Mo Lowda & the Humble, Alien Ant Farm, (Hed)P.E. and I, The Breather.
Washington said he's hoping the festival will help him re-launch his solo career and his second solo album, "Nappy Love." Previously, Washington was a Christian rap artist, and he also sings and plays the keyboard for the D.C. band Oddisee and Good Company, which will be touring in Paris in July.
The album, which has been in the making about four years, combines a neo-soul and hip hop fusion sound to tell a story about the love he has for his wife.
"It's basically about all the feelings I had going through from boyfriend and girlfriend with my wife to getting engaged to being married," he said.
"Nappy Love" features 11 tracks, including the new single "My Girls," which will be released with a video on YouTube in May. Videos for "With You," shot by RB Studios in York, and "UB4," shot by Diemo, have already been released on YouTube.
Washington will perform at Launch at 9 p.m. Friday with York freelance musician Andrew Naylor on bass, Doctor Sloth Claw drummer Josh Stoner on drums and local poet Soul Cry on backup vocals.
"I like sticking to my roots and the people that have been with me," Washington said.
"It's good ... getting back in the trenches and putting in work to be a solo artist again."
Watch York artist at Launch
Who: William Penn Senior High School senior Terrell Bryant, also known as Nakuu
When: 10 p.m. April 23
Where: Lizard Lounge at the Chameleon Club, 223 N. Water St., Lancaster
Cost: Free with Regular or VIP Launch Badge, $8 at the door
Mixtape: Nakuu's fourth mixtape is scheduled for release May 1
Follow Nakuu: @yaboynakuu on Twitter
184 bands performing in Lancaster at Launch Music Festival
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