If you plan it, they will come. 

The twist on the famous line in the classic 1989 flick, “Field of Dreams” seems appropriate in the way to describe the hundreds of Madisonians, who flocked to the heart of the city, to attend this summer’s Mad Lit events  ꟷ  a concert series featuring live music that highlighted local artists and showcased businesses of color.

Eventgoers, swooning to the sounds of reggae, rhythm and blues, soul, salsa, rock, and hip-hop, were eager to return to the outdoor venue after the shelter-at-home was lifted. Pop-up shops got into the mix, selling tasty treats and apparels around the 100 block of State Street.

Mad Lit is the brainchild of Rob “Rob Dz” Franklin. The Madison’s Central Library employee envisioned and brought forth this creative collaboration. Franklin is the Media Projects Bubblerarian for the library and, as a Kennedy Center certified teaching artist for the Making Justice program, he’s known for promoting positive forms of self-expression and creating hip hop and spoken word workshops.

As a musician, he has performed with Common, Nas, Eminem, and Dead Prez, to name a few. In 2017, Franklin was inducted to both the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress and The National Museum of African American History and Culture as a member of The Story Corps program.

Franklin intentionally held Mad Lit along downtown’s Main Street since the COVID-19 pandemic negatively impacted businesses and culture there. 

The following images were captured through the lens of Madison’s own, Hedi Rudd.