Bronx Underground Festival
Hip-hop, indie rock, skateboarding, dancing and more will happen this summer as part of the Bronx Underground Festival, a series of events taking place in the fest’s namesake borough and beyond. Check out the June 21 outdoor concert at Orchard Beach or the May 29 dance parties where an ’80s outfit will get you reduced admission.
(May 27 to Aug. 1, various locations, www.bronxunderground; times vary, $TBA)
Bang on a Can Marathon
Tired of the same old same old? Check out 12 hours of non-stop mind-bending music from some of the weirdest international musicians including Ryuichi Sakamoto, Bill Frisell, Paul Hillier, Andrew Cyrille and Henry Grimes, all behind the Bang on a Can All Stars. (May 31, World Financial Center Winter Garden, 200 Vesey St., 718-852-7755; noon to midnight, FREE)
Take a break from staring at sunbathers and softball players on the Great Lawn and get over to SummerStage for see a free show with M. Ward, Mike Watt & Nels Cline, Bela Fleck or Ginuwine. You’ll have to pay to see TV on the Radio, the Indigo Girls or Explosions in the Sky, but they’re worth it, right? (June 5 to Aug. 15, Central Park Summer Stage, enter park at 63rd St., 212-360-2756; times vary, FREE)
Get a blanket and a Frisbee and head over to Prospect Park for some of the best free shows of the summer. David Byrne opens the season on June 8 to play some stuff he’s done with Brian Eno. Don’t miss Dr. Dog & These United States on June 27, They Might Be Giants on July 11, Buckwheat Zydeco on July 24 and a screening and sing-along of Purple Rain on Aug. 6. (June 8 to Aug. 8, Prospect Park Bandshell, 9th St. & Prospect Park West, Brooklyn, 718-855-7882; times vary, FREE)
The 14th Annual multi-dimensional downtown arts festival includes more than 50 music and dance performances in one week. Quit pouting about the defunct JVC Jazz Festival and get over to Vision for some free jazz and a glass of bourbon on the side. Don’t miss the tribute to Philadelphia jazz legend Marshall Allen on June 10. (June 9 to 15, Abrons Arts Center 466 Grand St., 212-254-5420; times vary, $20 to $30 per show)
Madison Square Music
Starting in June, the crowds in Madison Square Park might not be there for Shake Shack. Well, not just for Shake Shack. The Madison Square Music series opens with a performance from Loudon Wainwright, his sister Sloan Wainwright and daughter Lucy Wainwright Roche, and throughout the summer other events include a concert from Missy Raines and The New Hip paired with a barbecue pit, as well as Grammy-winner Raul Malo. (June 17 to Aug. 5, Madison Square Park, www.madisonsquarepark.org; times vary, FREE)
Make Music New York
Celebrate the first day of summer when hundreds of musicians in New York (and more worldwide) all take part in the Make Music Festival. There’s plenty going on, but we’ll be front and center at Governor’s Island when more than 70 local punk bands beat each other up in the sun. Take the ferry over and help all the bored girlfriends cheer some bands. (June 21, various locations, www.makemusicny.org; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., FREE)
CityParks presents free concerts in every borough throughout the summer. Some highlights include Sugarhill Gang at Queensbridge Park in Queens on July 14, Man Man at East River Park in Manhattan on July 16, KRS-One at Crotona Park in the Bronx on July 22, Frankie Negron at Red Hook Park in Brooklyn on Aug. 4 and Raekwon at Mahoney Playground in Staten Island on Aug. 12. (July 2 to Aug. 26, various locations, www.cityparksfoundation.org; times vary, FREE)
South Street Seaport Music Festival
Nothing beats getting a 32-ounce beer at Jeremy’s Ale House and walking over to Pier 17 on a warm Friday night for a free show—DJs go on first, bands follow an hour later—with the city at your back. This year’s Seaport schedule features Black Moth Super Rainbow, Blank Dogs, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Obits, Superchunk, Versus, Casiokids and more. (July 3 to Aug. 14, Pier 17, Fulton & South Sts., 212-732-7678 www.seaportmusicfestival.com; 7, FREE)
Launched in 2005, this festival features music, film, skateboarding and more. Previously concerts have included Janelle Monae and Little Jackie, and this year’s lineup will feature Earl Grey Hound, a repeat performance from Monae and eight days of inspired film programming. (July 3 to 7, Brooklyn Academy of Music, 30 Lafayette Ave., at Ashland Pl, Brooklyn, www.afropunk.com; times vary, FREE)
Watch the sun go down behind some indie-rock favorites at the annual music series at Hudson River Park’s Pier 54. This year’s headliners include Matt & Kim on July 9, Ted Leo & The Pharmacists on July 23 and Yeasayer on Aug. 13. (July 9 through Aug. 13, Hudson River Park, Pier 54, Perry & West Sts., 212-627-2020; times vary, FREE)
Rock the Bells
Get over to Jones Beach to see a reunited House of Pain play with Nas, Damian Marley, the Roots, Common, Big Boi (OutKast), KRS-One, Reflection Eternal (Talib Kweli & DJ Hi-Tek) and the RZA. (July 19, Nikon Theatre at Jones Beach, Long Island, 516-221-1000, www.jonesbeach.com; time TBA, $40.50 to $197)
All Points West
If you can afford putting up with Coldplay fans and drinking corrals, get out of the city and take the ferry out to Liberty State Park for a three-day lineup featuring great bands of the past, present and future. Headliners include the Beastie Boys, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Vampire Weekend, Tool, My Bloody Valentine, Gogol Bordello, Coldplay, Echo & the Bunnymen and MGMT. (July 31 to Aug. 2, Liberty State Park, Jersey City, 201-915-3440, www.apwfestival.com; noon to 11:30 p.m., $89 a day, three-day pass for $199)
New York Philharmonic in the Parks
For a week in July, the New York Philharmonic plays outdoor shows at Central Park’s Great Lawn (July 14 and 17), Prospect Park in Brooklyn (July 15) and Van Cortland Park in the Bronx (July 16). You’ll hear selections from Mozart, Beethoven and Mahler. (July 14 to 17, various locations, 212-875-5656, www.nyphil.org; times vary, FREE)
Lincoln Center Out of Doors (see interview below!)
The annual festival returns with live music, dance, puppet shows, readings and parties. Highlights include the Aug. 6 “Hip-Hop Generation Next” event with a performance from Sierra Leone’s Bajah and the Dry Eye Crew, as well as the Aug. 8 performance from post-punk pioneers Liquid Liquid. (Aug. 5 to 23, Damrosch Park, Amsterdam Avenue at W. 62nd St., www.lincolncenter.org; times vary, FREE)
Charlie Parker Jazz Festival
Frank Wess Quintet, Gary Bartz, Papo Vazquez Pirates Troubadors and the Dred Scott Trio will all perform during this two-day festival dedicated to bringing big-name jazz performers into the parks—Harlem’s Marcus Garvey and the East Village’s Tompkins Square—that Parker lived and worked near. (Aug. 29 & 30, Marcus Garvey Park, enter park at 120th St. & Madison Ave., and Tompkins Square Park, enter park at 10th St. & Avenue A; 3, FREE)
Free, Global and Out of Doors
By Nick Broad
With the 26th Annual Roots of American Music mini-festival, Dave Brubeck, an orchestra of 200 electric guitars and many more performers, Lincoln Center Out of Doors is expecting at least 200,000 visitors this year. We chatted with Bill Bragin, director of public programming for Lincoln Center, who puts together the festival. The following transcript has been edited.
This is the second season that you’ve coordinated the festival. How are you taking to it? I’m loving it. It’s really great to have this broad a palette to work with. This year there are several new spaces, including the Broadway Plaza in front of Tully Hall, and a new grove of trees in front of Lincoln Center Theater. To celebrate these new features we’re commissioning a brand new marching band, called the Asphalt Orchestra, performing in different locations each night. They use classic marching band instrumentations, but play both entirely new music and new arrangements of works by Frank Zappa, Charles Mingus and Björk, among others.
Twenty-eight events in 19 days. What’s the hardest part of setting that up? Endurance. It’s a densely packed season. You might see it as a festival, but for us each act is its own event. We have artists from India, Brazil, Russia, Mali, Korea and all over the United States, and we want to treat each of them with same care.
What acts are you personally most excited to see? I don’t book anyone I don’t like. We tried the 200-guitar orchestra last summer, but the weather didn’t hold up, so I’m really looking forward to seeing it work this year (Aug. 8). I’m also very close to Stew and Heidi Rodewald, who are doing new interpretations of Broadway shows (Aug. 19). Closing out the event is Mazel Tov, Mis Amigos: The Lost World of Latin-Jewish Sound (Aug. 23), which is about the secret Latin-Jewish connection, and a lot of fun. But I’m honestly excited for all of the shows.
How do you choose the artists? I cast a wide net. We’ve been having many talks with non-profit organizations. There are a lot of ideas thrown around. When I used to run Joe’s Pub, I must have programmed around 3,500 shows. It’s about keeping your eyes on what’s happening, 365 days a year.
What is special about the event? Our cultural hybrids are quite unique. Some people are doing very traditional music, but we’re also making a statement that our roots are very entwined and entangled; it’s very dirty down there. The Dave Brubeck Quartet is playing with Simon Shaheen, a Palestinian oud player, which is a sort of Arabic lute (Aug. 5). Mazal Tov, Mi Amigos has a mambo Yiddish feel. The Texas Tornadoes (Aug. 23) are Tex-Mex pioneers, and the Louisiana Renegades mix Cajun and Creole music (Aug. 23). This is something that is quintessentially New York. All of thee artists could only come together here.
Lincoln Center Out of Doors takes place Aug. 5 to 23 at the Broadway Plaza, Damrosch Park, Hearst Plaza, Josie Robertson Plaza and South Plaza at the Lincoln Center. Visit www.lincolncenter.org for more information.
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