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Drums Up Guns Down 414 is creating music with a mission

Posted at 5:29 AM, Aug 16, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-16 07:24:50-04

MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee's RiverWalk will come to life on Wednesdays and Saturdays. It's part of a musical series that will stretch into mid-September — giving you the chance to catch dozens of live performances.

The new series has found early success and an expanded lineup has been added!

'It's Alive on the RiverWalk' first launched in July, but at that time, the lineup hadn't even been fully filled out. Now, many more performers have been booked — they're local performers and that's intentional.

'It's Alive' is a nod to how vibrant Milwaukee's music scene has become.

"We've had a really great response so far," said Hillary Gunn, Digital Content Coordinator for the Pabst Theater Group

The event gives entertainers more opportunities to get out in front of people with busker-style performances that highlight Milwaukee's RiverWalk.

"Local musicians want to support local Milwaukee things," added Amber Solheim, who handles booking for the series. "It's really cool for us to be able to support those musicians (in return) and give them a platform."

Drums Up Guns Down 414 is using that platform to pound out a message of peace.

"I myself have lost a couple of relatives," said Oju Charleston who founded the group.

Charleston says she's also lost close friends because of gun violence in Milwaukee and it's time that youth in the city have an outlet.

"To learn how to resolve their problems among each other, to learn how to associate with each other, to learn how to coexist with each other through differences," she continued.

The idea is that learning traditional West African drumming offers a positive activity that can foster a sense of camaraderie and lead to less violence.

"Culture brings confidence — that's one of the things I like to say," added Charleston.

The group just hosted its first camp and Drums Up Guns Down 414 is now planning a fall session. Click here to visit the group's Facebook page.

Organizers of 'It's Alive on the RiverWalk' hope to make the event an annual one and also expand it.

As for this year, there are still a few performance slots open. They're booking all kinds of performers including magicians and living statues. Click here for the full lineup and information on how to book a performance slot.

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