There are all these wonderful free events during the summer: movies, concerts, subway group participation shows, inventive use of the train platform as a bedroom or lavatory and so on. Knowing about these is serious dating currency; what makes you look smarter than (a) having interests other than drinking and eating, (b) knowing about interesting free events going on in the city, and (c) still being able to incorporate drinking and eating? Nothing. Nothing makes you look smarter.
One word of warning: it’s not like Celebrate Brooklyn is a total secret. Plenty of people go and often, if it’s someone really big, it’s crowded with bastards. That doesn’t mean it’s not fun, but it does mean that it’s not a place where it’s great to neck. Get the list of events after the jump and a couple of suggestions for how to put it together.
Our suggestion is to make a picnic out of it. In this case, the food isn’t super expensive (cheaper than a baseball game, but more expensive than a picnic) and it’s actually pretty good. The beer is also fairly reasonable for a closed system. But, it’s better to just have everything with you and not stand in line (which is covered in the tips below: prepare to wait).
TIP: Get there around 6pm for the night concerts and grab yourself on the slope so you can have a picnic, chat and enjoy the show all at once. Sitting on the flat part can easily get not so fun when someone decides to sit in front of you with lawn chairs.
TIP: Bring your own bevs. They don’t seem to care much if you bring your own food and drink, so we suggest doing just that (helps you to escape the high prices inside the gates).
TIP: If you plan on paying for food or drink there, get it all early . . . the lines get super long after about 7:45.
TIP: Bring a blanket. Sitting on grass for hours and hours isn’t as much fun as it sounds.
Here’s the full schedule of events:
Thursday, July 5, 7.30pm
Issac Delgado / Xiomara Laugart / Pistolera
ISSAC DELGADO, the most inventive and beloved modern salsa singer of his generation, blends Afro-Caribbean rhythms with elements of pop and jazz. The liquid-voiced XIOMARA LAUGART, lead singer of the Cuban-African-hip-hop-funk mob Yerba Buena, introduces her new solo project to Brooklyn, and the blistering Mexican alt folk of PISTOLERA completes a night of deeply booty shaking Latin rhythms.
Friday, July 6, 7.30pm
(Rain date Saturday, July 7, 7:30pm)
REwind: A Cantata For Voice, Tape & Testimony / Richie Havens
Composed by Philip Miller with additional vocal arrangements by Mduduzi Mofokeng.
Commissioned by the Spier Arts Trust (South Africa), MASS MoCA, Williams College ’62 Center for Theater and Dance, and the Celebrate Brooklyn Performing Arts Festival.
Cape Town composer Philip Miller’s extraordinary international collaboration is based on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings that led South Africa from apartheid to democracy. Opera superstar Sibongile Khumalo joins other South African soloists, a string octet, and a 100-voice chorus composed of Brooklyn’s Total Praise Choir of Emanuel Baptist Church, the Williams College Choir, and a South African ex-patriot choir led by Lion King choirmaster Ron Kunene. The music blends seamlessly with samples of recorded TRC testimony and stunning projected images. “The Cantata brought together the cry of our country—our pain and fears, our hopes and especially our triumphs and joys in the way we as South Africans can best express these emotions—in music and song. It was a deeply moving, most powerful and uplifting experience.” (Archbishop Desmond Tutu)
The evening begins with an introduction by a very special surprise guest host and a performance by folk icon Richie Havens. Bedford-Stuyvesant born and raised, Havens has used his music to convey messages of brotherhood and personal freedom since emerging from the Greenwich Village folk scene in the early 1960s. His fiery, soulful singing and guitar style remains unique and ageless, and his willingness to lend his voice to numerous worthy causes through the decades has made him one of the most enduring musician-activists of his generation.
Thursday, July 12, 7:30pm
Noche Flamenca / Andrew J. Nemr & CPD Plus / Darrah Carr Dance
This internationally acclaimed Madrid troupe practices flamenco in its purest, most passionate incarnation. “Powerfully raw in its sensuality . . . spellbindingly visceral.” (Dallas Morning News) The hot young hoofers of CPD PLUS and the modern influenced Irish step of DARRAH CARR make it a far ranging evening of percussive dance.
Friday, July 13, 7:30pm
Zoé / The Pinker Tones / Chetes
Alt-rock explosivo from Mexico City’s ZOÉ meets a freakishly irresistible cocktail of electro, pop, dance, lounge, and loud sunglasses mixed by THE PINKER TONES—”take two parts James Bond, one part Madonna, half a cup of 60s and stir with a Latin spoon” (Mesh Magazine)—a Barcelona DJ duo on the fast track to global domination. Throw in the melodious pop of CHETES, a recent transplant from Monterrey, and we are en fuego. Presented in collaboration with the LAMC/Latin Alternative Music Conference.
Saturday, July 14, 8pm
Brooklyn Philharmonic With Music Director Michael Christie, Guest Artists Mark O’Connor And Maya Beiser
A genre-bending evening with the borough’s world-class orchestra, directed by the dynamic MICHAEL CHRISTIE. Special guest soloist and composer MARK O’CONNOR, a violinist who is “one of the most talented and imaginative working in music-any music-today,” (LA Times) has created a program that incorporates his country roots and features thrilling contributions from cellist MAYA BEISER, “a deeply serious, technically honed classical musician (crossed) with a fiercely sexy, attitude-driven pop star.” (Strings Magazine)
Sunday, July 15, 4pm
Frank London’s Yiddish Carnival
For this concert of old- and new-school Jewish music, the luminary Frank London-who has played with everyone from John Zorn to They Might Be Giants and LL Cool J-will be joined by New York City’s hottest and most diverse group of Yiddish musicians for a radical festival in the park. Performers include the Grammy award winning klezmer band, The Klezmatics; television and theater star Fyvush Finkel; a rare performance by legendary Yiddish rocker Wolf Krakowski; Cuban Jewish percussionist Roberto Rodriguez; Rolling Stone’s #1 non-English group of 2006, Frank London’s Klezmer Brass Allstars featuring Brazilian percussionists Maracatú New York; Yiddish divas Joanne Borts and Adrienne Cooper; and the Festival Latin Jewish Carnival Orchestra & Social Justice Sing.
Thursday, July 19, 7:30pm
Blackmail With Alloy Orchestra / Morley
ALLOY ORCHESTRA performs its gripping score to BLACKMAIL (1929), Hitchcock’s last and best silent film. “Accompaniment is really an inadequate description of the voodoo they do with their strange and wonderful repertoire of sonic surprises.” (Detroit Metro Times) Ease into the noir with the seductive charms of MORLEY, a “jazz minded pop chanteuse, soul sister, cosmopolitan home girl from Jamaica Queens.” (NY Times) Rescheduled from 2006.
Friday, July 20, 7.30pm
Bobby “Blue” Bland / Catherine Russell
Half a century into a career in which his “evocative vocal style has taken the blues out of the barroom and into the bedroom,” (Salon) BOBBY “BLUE” BLAND can still turn on your love light like nobody else—he’s as untouchably authentic as ever. With the “incredibly talented and classy” (Village Voice) singer CATHERINE RUSSELL, who takes on jazz balladry, bordello blues, dance hall swing, country, pop, and soul with equal élan.
Saturday, July 21, 7pm
Hal Willner’s Doc Pomus Project Featuring Lou Reed / Ben E. King / Teddy Thompson / Shannon McNally / Steven Bernstein / Joel Dorn / Mocean Worker / Peter Guralnick and many others
Maverick music producer HAL WILLNER, whose off kilter genius for dreaming up multi-artist concept shows is unparalleled, returns to the Bandshell after epic explorations of Leonard Cohen (2003) and Neil Young (2004) to celebrate the words and music of the late great Williamsburg born songwriter DOC POMUS, author of classics like “Lonely Avenue” and “Youngblood.” Willner’s eclectic crowd of artists will range, as always, from the emerging to the iconic. Check our Website for cast updates.
Sunday, July 22, 5pm
Dan Zanes & Friends
Brooklyn’s resident rock star to the young and young at heart DAN ZANES throws an all-ages party in the borough’s back yard! Zanes and his band, along with some special surprise guests, find that unique place in American music where sea shanties, Broadway standards, North American and West Indian folk music, fiddle tunes, the spirit of rock-and-roll, and soulful originals collide. “The happiest concert vibe since Woodstock. With a lot less drugs and mud.” (New York Magazine) So pack up the wee ones, partake of our handy stroller parking, and enjoy a perfect afternoon at the Bandshell for the whole family.
Thursday, July 26, 8pm
Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company
One of the world’s great modern dance companies presents a daring piece of repertory. In Another Evening: I Bow Down, Jones is both dancer and spectator, moving through a landscape of natural disasters and personal reminiscence. Jones’ 10 dancers “explode with physical emotion in a riveting display of reckless abandon and total control.” (Metro New York) Music by Wagner and contemporary Russian composer Anton Bagatov is juxtaposed with live performance by the Bronx based hardcore band Regain the Heart Condemned, ingeniously incorporated into the set. The evening begins with the classic Blauvelt Mountain, originally a Jones/Zane duet.
Friday, July 27, 7.30pm
Laurel & Hardy With The Millennial Territory Orchestra / Ethan Lipton
Trumpeter/bandleader/musical archeologist Steven Bernstein, “the R. Crumb of jazz,” (Village Voice) leads the incendiary MTO through new original scores to a selection of LAUREL & HARDY films—a Celebrate Brooklyn commission. The evening begins with Brooklynite ETHAN LIPTON, who “with the distinct high warble of his voice, homespun folksy tunes, and his gentle good manners, seems to have mistakenly wandered into the 21st Century directly from the Great Depression.” (Popmatters)
Saturday, July 28, 2pm - 9pm
Boricua Festival: Tito Rojas / Joe Cuba Sextet / Viento De Agua / David Cedeño & others
Our festival of Puerto Rican culture features an all-day lineup headlined by “El Gallo Salsero” TITO ROJAS, who flies in from Borinquen with his 18-person salsa machine. Also on the menu: the father of Latin boogaloo JOE CUBA, the rowdy folkloric sounds of Puerto Rico’s VIENTO DE AGUA, the hot hot hot Jersey trumpeter DAVID CEDEÑO and his orchestra, and more.
Thursday, August 2, 8pm
Brave New World Repertory Theater: Crossing Brooklyn Ferry / Jenny Scheinman
The dynamic Brooklyn-based company follows last summer’s Bandshell production of “The Great White Hope” with an adaptation of Walt Whitman’s love song to the borough “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” that fuses poetry, projections, music, rap, and dance. Commissioned by Celebrate Brooklyn. Violinist/composer JENNY SCHEINMAN “has the street musician’s trick of getting attention with the pure power of a single, perfect note.” (NY Times) Her latest album, 12 Songs, includes the Whitman-inspired “Song of the Open Road.”
Friday, August 3, 7.30pm
Lyricist Lounge With KRS-ONE / Ladybug Mecca / Blitz / Beat Entertainment / Turntable Anihilists
A night of consciousness-raising rap, with Boogie Down Productions co-founder KRS-ONE, “hip-hop’s Cassius Clay,” (Mics) LADYBUG MECCA of the seminal bebop hip-hop poets Digable Planets, and a selection of young talent from the open mic visionaries of the Lyricist Lounge.
Saturday, August 4, 7:30pm
Kassav’ / Bonga
The Paris-based French Antillian founding fathers of zouk—a driving mix of Caribbean rhythms, Franco-pop, and American funk—storm into Brooklyn en masse, blowing horns, banging drums, and whipping the crowd into a frenzied, hip-shaking mob with music that “sounds like the makings of a glorious carnival.” (NY Times) Brooklynite Gaston Jean-Baptiste, aka BONGA, is a master traditional Haitian drummer and a high priest of voodoo.
Thursday, August 9, 7pm
The Hold Steady / The Big Sleep / The Teenage Prayers
“Damn you, HOLD STEADY! How can any band be this good?” (Rolling Stone)
These local heroes are rock & roll’s 21st Century saviors—and perfect headliners for a fist-pumping all-Brooklyn triple bill. THE BIG SLEEP churn out “seducing-yet-disorienting bedroom-metal,” (Spin.com) while the gritty and soulful TEENAGE PRAYERS boast a front man, Tim Adams, whose vocals are “a fascinating cross between a traditional R&B belter and Stephen Malkmus.” (Trouser Press) Friends of CB pre-concert reception supported by Betancourt & Associates Realty. See Friends panel for details.
Friday, August 10, 7:30pm
Bollywood In Brooklyn: Hum Kisi Se Kum Nahin / Dj Rekha’s Bollywood Disco
The Bollywood classic HUM KISI SE KUM NAHIN (1977) has an heiress, her underachieving paramour, her mobster father, his ruthless gang, and a rogue businessman all chasing a hidden cache of diamonds—and ready to burst into massive disco song and dance numbers at the slightest provocation, in the musical Bollywood tradition. The evening is hosted by the one and only DJ REKHA, who brings her famous Bollywood Disco party to the park to start off the festivities.
Saturday, August 11, 2pm - 9pm
African Festival: Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars / Sekouba Bambino / Stella Chiweshe / Shiko Mawatu / Baye Kouyaté et les Tougarakés
Our all-day African festival of music, food, and crafts from across the continent features a stellar lineup led by SIERRA LEONE’S REFUGEE ALL STARS, whose joyful mix of roots reggae and Afropop rhythms prove that “tragedy and even horrific brutality can somehow give birth to life-affirming, uplifting music,” (Montreal Gazette) and SEKOUBA BAMBINO, “The Golden Voice of Guinea.” Also with STELLA CHIWESHE of Zimbabwe, the Congolese soukous guitarist SHIKO MAWATU, and BAYE KOUYATÉ, a Malian master of the talking drum and the resident griot at Williamsburg’s Zebulon Café.