OAKtoberfest Promotes Community Through Music at National Arboretum

A quaint, intimate gathering along the grasses of the National Arboretum quickly turned into an excited musical experience as this year’s OAKtoberfest, an annual kickoff for fall, featured the multi-talented DMV Hip Hop Orchestra, The Shmoods. 

When you think of hip-hop, the cello and violin aren’t the first instruments that come to mind. Yet somehow, the instruments under a hip-hop flow create an entirely authentic sound. 

A collaborative group built on the spectrums of soul, hip-hop and, most importantly musical instruments, has create a sensational ripple effect for their respective audiences, and Saturday, October 19 was no different. Simultaneously bringing everyone to bob their head and gaze as each note left each instrument.

They parallel the past, present, and future of what collaborative music looks like. 

Numerous artists within this group including: The Box Era, Kaseem and Alex Von, all have a unique approach to music. The collective resonates with the crowd because each sound is different. Some are strictly instrumental, some soulful and others play a part in their own likeness. In each case, it connects and brings an entirely different perspective. 

The event was not only built for the music, but for the community as well. Craven Rand, Executive Director at Friends of the National Arboretum said, “it’s important to bring people out to the Arboretum, we want to share this wonderful place with all of DC, Maryland and Virginia. I think these concerts do a great job with sharing their music and sharing this wonderful place with the public.”

Concert-goer, Kelci Reedy echoed the sentiment, exclaiming, “it’s best to connect with your audience on a more intimate setting. I think it gives them a sense of community. They ultimately end up coming back when you need support, get more exposure and hopefully get bigger.” 

The comfortability amongst the crowd made more for a peaceful ambiance. Marcus Moody, the founder and composer of The Schmoods, tried to incorporate the crowd as much as possible.

“The point of the music is to make sure that everybody can feel it, not in a sense that it’s applicable to everybody, but it’s the core of everybody.” 

Allowing fans and members of the crowd to imitate their name, and bring other respective artists on stage helped build more of a community. In respect, he also asked for the support. Donations to undiscovered artists helped bring them on stage in the first place, and now that they’re there, they can create even more of a presence within the music industry. 

But what Moody stressed in his performance, is that it’s all about the music and the people.

“It’s not the surface, it’s not the superficial part. It’s the heart of what we do, and that’s being together on stage. Being together is the heart of the music.” 

For more information about OAKtoberfest and other events at the National Arboretum, visit here.

National Arboretum: 3501 New York Ave. NE, DC; 202-544-8733;