Last year's African Arts in the Park festival focused on the fusion of African rhythm and European classical music in the United States, otherwise known as jazz.
This weekend's ninth annual event in Point State Park finds its destination a little further south.
"Each year when we look at our surveys," says director Darcel Madkins, "we ask the audience what they would like. One of the things was reggae and Caribbean. Our theme is 'From Africa to the Caribbean,' so we take you on a journey from how Africans were in Africa and went somewhat to the Caribbean. So the influence is the music and the culture. We educate people on the culture of the Caribbean as well as Africa."
The festival will feature the city's premier reggae bands -- The Flow Band, The Freedom Band and Ras Prophet -- as well as Caribbean Vibes, Soundwaves Steel Drum Ensemble and festival presenter UMOJA African Arts Company, known for its highly rhythmic African drumming and dance since forming here in 1989.
Also representing the African beat will be the one national act on the bill, the Mathew Tembo Band, led by a performer who started out as a reggae artist before deciding to showcase the music of his native country, Zambia.
"When I played at the Rhythmic Conservatory in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2004, one of the professors there asked me why I played reggae when I was from Africa," he says. "I thought about it and I thought it was important for me to use my talent to preserve African music but also expose it to the 'world' because it is beautiful music. I then started teaching myself how to play the silimba, a homemade marimba, and later on the kalimba, thumb piano."
Mr. Tembo, who earned his master's degree this spring in world music performance from Northern Illinois University, comes to the festival having had a little bit of Pittsburgh in his background.
"I moved to Pittsburgh from Africa in 2011," he says. "My wife is from Pittsburgh. When I lived in Pittsburgh, I played music with some friends who mostly played reggae. For a little bit, I was part of the music scene [there]."
Last year Mr. Tembo, who holds a festival called Sing Our Own Song in Zambia, attended African Arts in the Park and told the organizers that he would love to be a part of it.
He said that when the Mathew Tembo Band takes the stage, "people should expect the best mix of African traditional music, jazz and reggae from the Afro-roots band."
The African to Caribbean theme spreads into the Cultural Village, where there will be workshops on African drumming, reggae and rasta history, storytelling and head wrapping.
The Health & Wellness Village will feature yoga, line dancing, a fitness boot camp, a doctor talking about hair chemicals and, Ms. Madkins says, a class on "how to purchase organic food without going broke."
The menu will range from soul food to Caribbean to Chinese, and retail vendors will offer African and Caribbean clothing, crafts and accessories.
Those who might miss the R&B, gospel, hip-hop, etc. will get that in 2014.
"Next year is our 10th year," says Ms. Madkins, "so we're looking to bring all of those different [genres] back."
Scott Mervis: email@example.com; 412-263-2576.