Tag: Things To Do

Preview: SummerStage 2017

Back in 1986, the City Parks Foundation created SummerStage in the spirt of Central Park’s original purpose — to serve as a free, public resource to help culturally enrich the lives of New Yorkers through live concerts, dance performances, and other cultural events.  And the festival’s first few years revealed relatively humble beginnings as its first few years of live programming were at Central Park’s Naumberg Bandshell; however, with artists such as Sun Ra Arkestra and legendary South African vocal act Ladysmith Black Mambazo and an impressive list of others playing those first few years, Summerstage, SummerStage quickly developed a reputation for presenting one of the most diverse array of artists across a variety of cultures, genres and styles — and they’ve continued to do so throughout its 30 plus year history. Over the past handful of years, SummerStage’s organizers have expanded the festival beyond Manhattan with shows hosted in parks, bandshells and and makeshift stages across the city’s other five boroughs, and from covering the festival throughout most of the history of site, it’s a wonderful afternoon or evening with your friends and neighbors; plus, there’s nothing like catching acts that keep you in touch with your inner child.

2017’s SummerStage season will begin in earnest on June 3rd with the legendary and imitable Mavis Staples, a national fucking treasure if you ask me, with contemporary blues artist Toshi Reagon and BIGLovely Good Music to round out a night of soul, gospel and blues at Central Park’s Rumsey Playfield. And the rest of the lineup for his year continues an incredible run of must-see acts. Some other highlights will include:

And of course, there are a handful of benefit shows presented by The Bowery Presents at Central Park’s Rumsey Playfield to help support City Parks Foundation’s continuing efforts to present free arts programming to New Yorkers and that lineup is equally impressive.

SummerStage will also be expanding its family-friendly pre-show workshop offerings this year to include dance classes, beatboxing lessons and introductions to DJing and Latin percussion. These interactive workshops will take place prior to elect SummerStage shows throughout the summer and all ages are encouraged to come out to your local park to participate. This year, the pre-show workshops will being with a DJ lesson from Scratch DJ Academy and a beatboxing tutorial with beatboxer Exacto before Digable Planets’ Coffey Park show — and other workshops will include salsa dance lessons in St. Mary’s Park and a poetry class in Marcus Garvey Park.

For more information and schedules check out SummerStage here: http://www.cityparksfoundation.org/summerstage/

Preview: Secret Solstice Festival 2017

With its inaugural run back in 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland’s Secret Solstice Festival has quickly become one of Iceland’s largest music festivals, featuring a diverse and eclectic array of established and internationally recognized artists, locally renowned acts and up-and-coming artists from all over the globe, performing in one of the most unique backdrops in the entire world – the roughly 72 hour period of near constant daylight Iceland experiences during the Summer Solstice, because of its proximity to the Arctic Circle. (After all, Reykjavik is the northernmost capital and administrative region of the northernmost country in the entire world.) Building upon its growing reputation as one of the world’s most unique music festivals, the fourth edition of the festival may arguably be one of the biggest and most diverse lineups to date as it includes Foo Fighters, Rick Ross, the UK electronic act The Prodigy, The Verve’s former frontman Richard Ashcroft, Pharoahe Monch, Chaka Khan, Foreign Beggars, Dubfire, Novelist, Rhye, Dusky and Chicago house music artist Kerri Chandler. Along with those artists, some of Iceland’s renowned acts, including Högni, Úlfur Úlfur, Amabadama, Emmsjé Gauti, GKR, Tiny, Aron Can, KSF, and Alvia Islandia will be performing. And adding to the 72 hour party vibe, the festival’s organizers have planned a series of electronic dance music takeovers and showcases featuring some of the world’s best party crews – including Ibiza’s Circoloco, Above & Beyond Records’ deep house imprint Ajunadeep Records’ dance floor collective Crew Love, ATG and Dubfire’s SCI+TEC among others.
Interestingly, for the second consecutive year, Secret Solstice is currently the only major music festival in the world to be certified CarbonNeutral®, as the festival sources almost all of their power needs from the use 100% renewable geothermal energy, hybrid vehicles provided by Toyota Iceland – and from offsetting any residual emissions through the purchase of high quality, verified carbon credits. Unlike any other festival I’ve attended or heard of, festivalgoers and artists alike can know that they’re being environmentally responsible while partying and catching some of the world’s most interesting artists. Of course, during a multi-day festival like Secret Solstice, it’s difficult and damn near impossible to catch everyone and everything, so consider me as a helpful guide – with some information on artists I’d love to catch while in Reykjavik.

Preview: Living Colour at City Winery 3/13/17

Currently comprised of founding members Corey Glover (vocals), Vernon Reid (guitar, synths, backing vocals) and Will Calhoun (drums, percussion, keys, samples, backing vocals), with Doug Wimbish (bass, drums, guitar, programming, backing vocals), the New York-based rock quartet Living Colour originally formed in 1984 and they quickly received attention for a sound that meshed elements of heavy metal, funk, jazz, jazz fusion, soul, prog rock and alternative rock with lyrics that frequently focused on the personal and sociopolitical, frequently commenting on and attacking Eurocentrism and racism in America. The quartet’s original lineup, featuring featuring the founding trio of Glover, Reid and Calhoun with Muzz Skillings (bass) cut their teeth and honed their sound and live show playing shows at CBGB’s.

Interestingly, the band found an unlikely champion in The Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger, who took the band under his wing, produced a demo, which caught the attention of Epic Records. And with the release of 1988’s commercially and critically successful full-length debut Vivid, the band’s original lineup, quickly rose to attention with their smash hit “Cult of Personality,” which won a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance; they also won the Best New Artist Award at 1989’s MTV Video Music Awards. Adding to a growing international profile, The Rolling Stones had Living Colour opened for the rock legend’s Stateside leg of the Steel Wheels tour. They quickly followed that up with 1990’s sophomore effort Time’s Up, which also won a Grammy.

After releasing three full-length albums with a number of major and minor hits, the band split up with the members focus on a variety of creative projects; in fact, Wimbish, Calhoun and Glover had teamed up with Glover in a project called Headfake, which played frequently in the New York City area. And as the story goes, in late 2000, Headfake played at CBGBs with Reid joining them, leading to rumors of a Living Colour reunion. Of course, those rumors proved to be true, as Living Colour went on their first tour together n six years the following summer.

The members of the band have since released one of their most experimental efforts to date, 2003’s Collideøscope, followed by 2005’s rarities and B-sides compilation, a few live albums, 2006’s Best of compilation, Everything Is Possible: The Very Best of Living Colour and 2009’s Chair in the Doorway. And over the past couple of years, the band has been on a rather busy touring schedule, touring to support the 25th anniversary of their seminal effort Vivid.

As a personal note, as a music obsessed boy, I’ve almost always listened to a wildly eclectic variety of music, and in the 80s metal was a big thing. I loved Metallica, Def Leppard, Ozzy Osbourne, Motley Crue and the like; but when I watched their videos and concerts, I didn’t see anyone who looked like me — and even in my 8 year old mind, I knew that I couldn’t be those guys. I was black and from Queens. However, seeing someone who looked like me with guys who came from neighborhoods that I knew or had family in, kicking ass and taking names was a revelation. And it made them heroes to me.

Sadly, I was too young to catch them back then; however, I have since seen them twice — once at Afropunk during their Vivid 25th Anniversary Tour and later at Brooklyn Bowl, and I’m thrilled to know that the band is playing tonight at City Winery.

Live Footage: Lee “Scratch Perry”/Preview: Dub Champions Festival: Lee “Scratch” Perry and Subatomic Sound System at Brooklyn Bowl

Perry turned 80 in March, and remarkably the man has managed to remain youthful, vital, challenging, forward-thinking, innovative, eccentric and imitable as ever as over the past decade or so he’s collaborated with the likes of The Beastie Boys, The Orb, Felix Da Housecat and several others while keeping a fairly busy touring schedule.

The reggae legend returns for the annual Dub Champions Festival at Brooklyn Bowl and this year’s appearance continues Perry’s continued tour with Subatomic Sound System to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the release of Super Ape — and to celebrate the legend’s 80th birthday. Of course, in honor of that occasion check out some live footage of the great and incredibly eccentric Mr. Perry.