SUMMER FUN IN NYC 2008
It's that time of year.. Time for Ben's rundown of concerts and movies and festivals and other fun things to do in New York this summer. I apologize in advance for my heavy bias toward music and food; I mean it as no insult to dance, theatre, or anything else. In no particular order, here goes:
River to River Festival
These folks start early and go through the summer with a huge number of events around lower Manhattan (good luck navigating their website). Abigail Washburn & The Sparrow Quartet featuring Bela Fleck (May 29) will probably be a mellow treat. There are two salsa shows: Domingo Quiñones (June 4) and La Excelencia (Aug 20). Sonic Youth is July 4, St. Vincent is July 10 and Ted Leo and the Pharmacists is July 17. There are also indoor classical concerts: clarinetist Jose Franch-Ballester (July 7) and pianist Jose Feghali (July 14).
Bryant Park Movies
The rope at Bryant Park drops at 5pm on Monday nights and the crowds rush in. Don't get there too much later or you won't get any seat, or at least not one close enough to hear. You have to be up for the intense-crowded-picnic culture of these nights and frankly it's not for everyone. This year starts on June 16 with Dr. No and end with Superman on August 18. Arsenic and Old Lace is July 21 ("Charge!!!").
Brooklyn Bridge Park Movies
Update: the schedule is posted now. These movies, on Thursday nights, are so much more low key than the Bryant Park situation. No racing for a spot on the grass or climbing over people is necessary. Plus, it's more scenic. The season starts on July 10 with Stand By Me. July 24 is Wallace and Gromit: Curse Of The Were Rabbit.
NY Philharmonic Concerts in the Parks
Every summer they bop through the boroughs (and LI and NJ) for concerts. It's really a delightful evening. The Central Park concerts are June 24 and July 15 (I hear they're a bit crowded); the Prospect Park one is July 14 (don't forget to boo Marty Markowitz).
Met Summer Concert: Live in Prospect Park
This year there be one outdoor show by the Metropolitan Opera, in Prospect Park, on June 20. "There's no show in Central Park this year??!" you say? Fear not: they're giving out 25,000 free metrocards to get the Manhattanites to come all the way to Brooklyn.
Big Apple BBQ
This weekend event (June 7-8, noon-6) at Madison Square Park features a lot of barbecue and alot of people; be prepared for crazy lines. The foodmakers are from all over the country. There's music too; wait, the guy from the Hootenany is playing? Really?
Madison Square Park concerts
The thing about Madison Square Park concerts is that they are always good. I first bumped into them one day back in 2003 and I have been going ever since. They have a mix from jazz to folk to country to anything. Shows are 7pm on Wednesdays; generally you can sit relatively close to the stage without having to show up too too early. I like to pick up a slice on the way at the place at Broadway and 28th. Oh and did I mention that there are often adorable little kids running around the grass at these shows? The first show is The Kennedys (June 18).
In addition to the Wednesday eve shows, the Madison Square Park Concservancy also has five folk and blues shows on Saturday afternoons (3pm). Update: hmm, actually, this is last year's schedule for the Saturday concerts.
The gin and tonic of NYC summer events -- almost everyone does it, and it's pretty good. The season opens on June 12 with Isaac Hayes (be there or be square) and Miriam Makeba is June 14 (76 years young, I'll have you know. And while it's true her "Farewell Tour" has been going on for some years now, this is probably your last chance). Shows are $3 suggested, for a good cause. This year's benefit concerts are Feist (July 9) and Spoon (July 15).
Central Park SummerStage
The season starts with Mavis Staples and Stephanie McKay on June 13 and I bet it will be good. Victor Manuelle (June 15) is pretty darn big in the salsa world. Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings (Aug 17) are the final show and I wouldn't miss it. The benefit concerts are many and include the Thievery Corporation (June 26), Crosby, Stills & Nash (July 29), The National (August 4) and Sonny Rollins (Aug 6).
Lincoln Center Out of Doors
Lincoln Center has a lot going on but much of it is not cheap. This is their outdoor series in August (7-24), which is free. The Roots of American Music Festival (August 23-24) features, among many others, Patti Smith and Charlie Haden.
Midsummer Night Swing
This is the other event to hit at Lincoln Center; it runs July 8-26. The music ranges from big band to son and is all, well, danceable. It's $15 to be on the dance floor; you can also certainly hear the music from outside of the paid area, but it can feel somewhat distant.
Shakespeare in the Park
The early part of the summer is Hamlet. The later part of the summer is some kind of rendition of Hair. If you have the dedication to wait in line, I salute you.
Hudson River Park
For everyone that goes to Celebrate Brooklyn and SummerStage, I implore you to go check out everything that's going on over on the Hudson too. Tuesday nights ("Stars of Tomorrow") and Friday nights ("Sunset on The Hudson") are low key jazz and other shows on the Christopher Street pier. The bigger shows ("River Rocks") are three Thursday night affairs on the pier near 14th street; I'd particuarly note Yerba Buena (July 10) and Flogging Molly (July 31). The amazing thing about their outdoor movies is that they have free popcorn! The 'kids' movies are Friday evenings (the original Willie Wonka is Aug 15; Shrek is Aug 22) and the 'grown-ups' movies are Wednesdays (Saturday Night Fever is Aug 6; the series ends on Aug 20 with, yes, The Blues Brothers).
The Blues and Barbecue Festival
The festival is part of the Hudson River Park events, but needs its own listing. It's on Sunday, Aug 24. You sit out in the sun all day, listening to blues, eating barbecue, drinking beer and getting completely sunburned. Sweet. The BBQ is mostly local. Update: the acts have been listed. Juke Joint Duo: Cedric Burnside and Lightnin' Malcolm, Larry Garner, Sugar Blue, Alexis P. Suter Band and Eugene Hideaway Bridges.
Rooftop Films Summer Series
Some of this stuff is free; some is not. The locations are all over.
Siren Music Festival
I won't mince words: the Siren festival (Saturday, July 19) is a cultural phenomenon. All of Williamsburg gets on the train one day each year and heads to Coney Island for an afternoon of indie-rock music. There are two stages; there's also everything else that makes Coney so special. Dress code alert: if you want to fit in, you have to wear pants, no matter how hot it is.
Good Morning America Concert Series @ Bryant Park
If you can get up early enough for these, I salute you. You have to be there before 7am. Cyndi Lauper is coming soon (June 13) and that's got to get you going for the work day (I'm serious). There's also Boyz II Men, Maroon 5, Miley Cyrus, Feist, the cast of Rent, and The Jonas Brothers. The Today Show also has their own concert series over at Rockefeller Center.
Washington Square Music Festival
They're not the flashiest -- the website still says '2007' -- but fear not, they're here for the 50th season. The opening is June 21, a 'hootenany' with three groups. The rest of the shows are Tuesday evenings in July -- chamber music on the 8th, 15th and 22nd, and the Charles Mingus Orchestra on the 29th.
Naumberg Orchestral Concerts
Four classical concerts in Central Park. The Jupiter Symphony Chamber Players are July 8.
Late Addition:McCarren Park Pool
This is their last season, a coworker tells me. Some of the shows and movies are free; others are expensive. MGMT is July 27.
Out of town music festivals you can reach by train:
Red Bank Jazz & Blues Festival. Red Bank, NJ. May 30-June 1.
Clearwater Festival. This was once Pete Seeger's event. Croton, NY. June 21-22.
Pleasantville Music Festival. Pleasantville, NY. July 12.