Preview: Free Summer Concerts In NYC

HT Recommends: Coheed & Cambria / Adrian Belew Trio / Tiger Jaws

Where: Williamsburg Waterfront

When: Saturday, June 11, 5:30 PM

Official Info: Coheed and Cambria with Adrian Belew Power Trio and Tigers Jaw Saturday June 11th. Performing as Part of the 2011 T-Mobile Williamsburg Waterfront Free Concert Series Presented By OSA. Doors open at 5:30pm and entry is first come first serve. Tickets are not required

Other Free Shows At Williamsburg Waterfront: 7/29 – They Might Be Giants / Eugene Mirman & Pretty Good Friends

HT Recommends: Those Darlins / Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears

Where: Big Apple Barbecue & Block Party – Madison Square Park

When: Sunday, June 12, 2:45 PM & 4:30 PM

Official Info: Four years have gone by since Nikki, Jessi, and Kelley Darlin spat in their palms and slapped hands in the three–way promise that would become Those Darlins – a modern–day garage girl group in the tradition of Wanda Jackson and the Ronettes, the Go–Gos and the Bangles. Joined by drummer Linwood Regensburg, the gals’ constant touring honed their chops and converted listeners into fans across the USA. Now that invaluable experience is stamped in the grooves of Little Darlins’ sophomore album, Screws Get Loose, with its knockout originals like “Let You Down,” “Be Your Bro,” and “Waste Away.” While the band’s country punk essence is still evident, this time it’s more in tune with the Dirty South garage sounds that have blasted forth from Memphis, Atlanta, and Nashville in recent years.

PopMatters exclaims, “If you’ve ever found yourself shaking your head at what passes for modern R&B, blues and soul these days, wondering just what the hell happened to primal groove, the stanky strut, the carnal possession of it all, Scandalous is the soundtrack to your next party.” We are delivering this party live on stage to close out this year’s Big Apple Barbecue Block Party. A churning slab of rock & roll, blues and funk, laced with a double shot of 100–proof punkitude: That’s the sound of Scandalous (Lost Highway), the all–killer/no–filler album by Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears.The songs of Scandalous are as tough as their titles – “Living’ In The Jungle” and “You Been Lyin’” – with Lewis’ impassioned field–holler vocals backed by a six–man instrumental unit that stays with him every step of the way.

Other Free Shows During The Big Apple Barbecue & Block Party: 6/12 – Bambi Kino / Guitar Shorty / Dale Watson

HT Recommends: Ivan & Alyosha

Where: One Penn Plaza / World Financial Center Plaza

When: Tuesday, June 21, Acoustic – 12:30 PM  / Thursday, June 23, Full Band – 5:30 PM

Official Info: Seattleʼs Ivan & Alyosha are not nihilist indie rockers, but a new brand of tender dreamers. They navigate the music world contemplating their path as a band, and, despite the uncertainty, Ivan & Alyoshaʼs soulful folk tunes suggest a band inspired, hopeful, and longing, unafraid to probe their collective faith and doubts.

Other Free Shows At World Financial Center Plaza: 6/19 – Bang On A Can Marathon, 6/28 – Rufus Wainwright Goes To The Opera

HT Recommends: Talib Kwali

Where: Red Hook Park

When: Tuesday, June 21, 7 PM

Official Info: For over 15 years, Talib Kweli has been a king of New York hip-hop who has an expansive international audience.

Kweli’s work with Mos Def on the famed album, Black Star still stands as one of hip-hop’s premier collaborations and was instantly hailed by critics upon its release. Regarded as a virtuoso performer that continues to wow audiences and critics alike, Kweli has performed all over the world, offering fans his unique rhyming style. Famous for his collaborations with artists as diverse as Kanye West, Justin Timberlake, Mary J. Blige, Norah Jones and many more, Kweli has had a career filled with success and innovation. To many, it comes as no surprise that both Jay-Z and 50 Cent, at the height of their stardom, both counted Kweli among their favorite rappers.

Other Free Shows At Red Hook Park: 6/22 – Ozomatli, 6/23 – We Are Scientists / Milagres, 6/24 – Reggie Watts / DJ Stormin’ Norman

HT Recommends: Tift Merritt

Where: Madison Square Park – Oval Lawn Series

When: Wednesday, June 22, 7 PM

Official Info: Tift Merritt, along with her longtime band, kicks off the 2011 Mad. Sq. Music: Oval Lawn Series with her beautiful vocals and moving songwriting. Her first record landed on the top ten lists of Time and New Yorker magazines, and was called the “best debut of the year in any genre” by the Associated Press. Since then, Tift has built an impressive and critically acclaimed collection of sonic short stories. See You on the Moon, her latest release, is an “honest, personal album full of beautiful melodies and poignant lyrics” (MORE) and will be perfectly complemented by Madison Square Park’s outdoor stage.

Other Free Shows At Madison Square Park: 6/29 – Dale Ann Bradley / The Steel Wheels, 7/6 – Lionel Loueke Trio / Edmar Castaneda Trio plus special guest Adrea Tierra, 7/13 – Christian McBride & Inside Straight

HT Recommends: The Bottom Line – NY On My Mind: Rosanne Cash, Vin Scelsa & Guests Celebrate The Iconic Music Venue

Where: Rockefeller Park – River To River Festival

When: Wednesday, June 22, 7 PM

Official Info: The Bottom Line Presents New York On My Mind starring Sean Altman, Rosanne Cash, Marshall Crenshaw, Meg Griffin, Garland Jeffries, Willie Nile, NRBQ, Martin Rivas, Suzzy and Lucy Wainwright Roche, Vin Scelsa, Loudon Wainwright III, Dar Williams, and additional guests TBA featuring music director John Leventhal with Mojo Mancini.

Other Free Shows At Rockefeller Park: 6/29 – Chrisette Michele, 7/6 – Poets House featuring Jose James & Bobbi Humphrey, 7/13 – All In Good Time: A Celebration Of Jonathan Schwartz

HT Recommends: Midsummer Night Swing featuring Soul Train with Pee Wee Ellis & Fred Wesley plus DJ set from Biz Markie

Where: Damrosch Park – Midsummer Night Swing

When: Tuesday, June 28, 7:30 PM

Official Info: For generations of music fans, Soul Train epitomized the spirit of peace, love, and soul. Horn legends Pee Wee Ellis and Fred Wesley—the architects of funk as we know it through their time with James Brown, the J.B.’s, and Parliament-Funkadelic—will get you on the good foot with hit after hit featuring guest vocalists Martha High and Fred Ross. The irrepressible Biz Markie will spin classics accompanied by vintage clips from the show while original Soul Train dancer Tyrone Proctor leads the dance line for this 40th-anniversary family reunion of the hippest trip in America.

Other Midsummer Night Swings At Damrosch Park: 6/27 – Jonathan Stout Orchestra, 6/29 – Swingtime Big Band, 6/30 – Hector de Curto’s Eternal Tango Orchestra, 7/1 – Diogo Noguiera, 7/2 – Aurora y Zon del Barrio, 7/5 – Gilberto Santa Rosa, 7/6 – Hot Club Of Cowtown, 7/7 – No Parking On The Dance Floor: The Losers Lounge Presents an ’80s Dance Party, 7/8 – Tribute To Ralph Mecado, 7/9 – Roy Collins’ Hot Club, 7/12 – Palmetto Big Band, 7/13 – Charlie Harris, Maeve Donnelly, Geraldine Cotter & Eamonn Cotter, 7/14 – Caravan Palace, 7/15 – Lisandro Meza & Juan Jose Meza, 7/16 – Harlem Renaissance Orchestra w. Billy Harper

HT Recommends: Justin Townes Earle / Punch Brothers / The Hackensaw Boys

Where: Prospect Park Bandshell – Celebrate Brooklyn

When: Thursday, June 30, 7 PM

Official Info: It’s not your average hootenanny in Brooklyn as long, tall JUSTIN TOWNES EARLE, who “sings like a honky-tonk hero and thinks like a 21st century man,” (Guitar Aficionado) mixes it up with the boundry-pushing quintet PUNCH BROTHERS, whose critically acclaimed album Antifogmatic, “for the sheer technical virtuosity of its compositions and the fearlessness of its arrangements … suggests that Punch Brothers are rapidly evolving into a string-band version of Radiohead.” (Slant) Punk-bluegrass outlaws THE HACKENSAW BOYS will kick things off with a set of adrenaline-charged acoustic mayhem.

Other Free Shows At Prospect Park Bandshell: 6/10 – Andrew Bird, 6/16 – Hal Willner’s Freedom Rides Project featuring Rosanne Cash, Toshi Reagon, Steven Bernstein, and more, 6/17 – The Books /Junip / Doveman,  6/23 –  Ledisi /Anthony David, 6/24 –  Roy Hargrove Quintet / The Badwagon / The Bad Plus, 6/25 – The Heavy /The London Souls / Superhuman Happiness, 7/1 –  Steel Pulse /Natural Expression Rhythm Band, 7/7 – Court Yard Hounds / The Abrams Brothers, 7/8 – Los Lobos /Hello Seahorse! / Zigmat, 7/9 – Lyricist Lounge featuring Raekwon, Smif-N-Wessun, Joell Ortiz, & More, 7/16 –  Dan Zanes with the Brooklyn Youth Orchestra and Bed-Stuy Veterans, 7/22 – Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 / Faaji Agba, 7/23 – The Feelies / Real Estate / Times New Viking, 7/29 – Oumou Sangaré /Bassam Saba, 7/30 – Dr. John & The Lower 911 / Chuck Brown / Red Baraat, 8/5 – Ra Ra Riot / Delicate Steve / Buke and Gass

HT Recommends: Lower Dens / Dirty Beaches

Where: Seaport Pier 17 – Seaport Music Festival

When: Friday, July 1, 7 PM

Official Info: Baltimore’s Lower Dens made a splash last year with their atmospheric debut Twin Hand Movements, at the center of which is singer-songwriter Jana Hunter’s haunting voice. Fuzzy, droney and warm, Lower Dens exude that magic hour vibe.

Keeping with the theme, twangy openers Dirty Beaches are like a half-remembered dream infected by an oldies station drifting on the breeze at a desert motel. Attention David Lynch: here’s the soundtrack to your next movie.

Other Free Shows At The Seaport: 6/24 – The Ghost Of A Saber Tooth Tiger, 7/8 – The Wake / Weekend, 7/15 – The Radio Dept / Asobi Seksu

HT Recommends: Patti Smith

Where: Castle Clinton – River To River Festival

When: Thursday, July 14, 7 PM

Official Info: Uncompromising as NYC at midnight, the punk queen poet-laureate of downtown Patti Smith has profoundly inspired decades of artists and been a beacon of truth for millions around the globe. With ferocious energy and quiet grace the dark horse diva, singer, writer, reader, seeker, mother and political provocateur has become more than a spokesperson of her generation, she is a hero whose journey has transformed the world around her. Patti’s Castle Clinton performance offers an unheard of chance to see and feel the force of this dynamic artist up close and personal; this will be a night to remember.

TICKETS ARE REQUIRED and will be available online or two per person at the entrance to Castle Clinton at 5pm on the day of screening. Show starts at 7pm. Castle Clinton, Battery Park, State Street and Battery Place.

Other Free Shows At Castle Clinton: 6/23 – Vijay Iyer, 6/30 – Laurie Anderson / Bill Lawell, 7/7 – My Brightest Diamond / yMusic

HT Recommends: 4 Knots Music Festival

Where: South Street Seaport Pier 17

When: Saturday, July 16, 1 PM – 8 PM

Official Info: Each summer, The Village Voice produces an indie-rock music festival, showcasing renowned and emerging artists on today’s breaking music scene. In 2011, the Voice is launching The Village Voice 4Knots Summer Music Festival on Saturday, July 16th at the South Street Seaport’s Pier 17, New York City.

Working together with the Seaport, the festival will be located at this designated New York City historic district which features some of the oldest architecture in downtown Manhattan. The entire Seaport neighborhood is meant to transport its visitors back in time to the mid-19th century, to demonstrate what life in the commercial maritime trade was like.

The name of the festival “4Knots” comes from this rich nautical history at the Seaport meaning “the speed of the waves as they meet at the Seaport in New York’s East River”.

HT Recommends: Hospitality

Where: Fulton Stall Market – Sound Bites Lunchtime Series

When: Sunday, July 17, 2 PM

Official Info: Shows will take place at the Market, South Street between Beekman and Fulton on the west side of the street.

Other Free Shows At Fulton Stall Market: 6/26 – My Teenage Stride, 7/3 – The Hairs, 7/10 – Pow Wow!

HT Recommends: Salute To Hip Hop featuring Funkmaster Flex And Special Guests

Where: Queensbridge Park

When: Thursday, July 21, 7 PM

Official Info: For more than a decade, DJ Funkmaster Flex has reigned as America’s number one hip-hop radio personality and reaches more than two million listeners a week on his radio show. Join Funkmaster Flex as he hosts Salute to Hip-Hop, a nationwide series of concerts that celebrates hip-hop and honors the generations of artists that have shaped it and carry on its influence today.

Other Free Shows At Queensbridge Park: 7/19 – Kool Moe Dee, 7/20 – Harold Melvin’s Blue Notes / Rhythm Revue w. Felix Hernandez, 7/26 – Donell Jones / Olivia, 7/28 – Chrisette Michele

HT Recommends: Billy Bragg – The Big Busk

Where: Damrosch Park Bandshell – Lincoln Center Out Of Doors

When: Wednesday, July 27, 7:30 PM

Official Info: England’s folk singer and activist Billy Bragg stirs things up on this side of the Atlantic when he brings his Big Busk to Out of Doors to open the festival on July 27, performing and leading a community musical happening. For the evening’s concert, Bragg will not only perform signature songs, but will lead the audience in a sing- and play-along of well-known classics, and some songs crowd-sourced from his fans, chosen in advance from online suggestions. Details are on page 7. A group rehearsal for participating guitarists will take place in the afternoon and then solo performers will be invited to busk at spots around Lincoln Center’s plazas before concert time. Opening for Bragg is The Black Earth Boys featuring Juldeh Camara a new, Afro-Blues-world-roots trio that also includes Justin Adams and Ben Mandelson.

Other Free Shows At Damrosch Park Bandshell: 7/28 – 3 Pianos / Taylor Made: A Jazzmobile Tribute To Dr. Billy Taylor, 7/30 – Ponderosa Stomp: She’s Got The Power! A Girl Group Extravaganza, 7/31 – Mavis Staples / The Relatives, 8/3 – Trey McIntyre Project / Preservation Hall Jazz Band, 8/4 – Malkit Singh / Dengue Fever, 8/10 – Laurie Anderson & Friends, 8/1328th Annual Roots Of American Music Festival – Abigail Washington / Sid Selvidge & Sons Of Mud Boy (Cody & Luther Dickinson) @ Heart Plaza Stage, Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives, 8/1428th Annual Roots Of American Music Festival – Steve Cropper & Friends: Tribute To The “5” Royales w. Bettye LaVette, Ellis Hooks & Dylan LaBlanc / The Bar-Kays / North Mississippi All Star Duo / Big Sam’s Funky Nation

HT Recommends: Lowdown Hudson Blues Festival

Where: World Financial Center Plaza

When: Thursday, July 28 – Sunday, July 30

Official Info: Taj Mahal, James Blood Ulmer, Vernon Reid, Steven Bernstein’s Millennial Territory Orchestra, Henry Butler, The Beauties and Mike Farris are among the acts scheduled to appear at the Lowdown Hudson Blues Festival. The free, three-day outdoor music festival will take place at New York’s World Financial Center Plaza from July 28-30. Hazmat Modine, Danny Kalb, Ryan Shaw and Citigrass will also perform. The festival is billed as the city’s first major all blues festival and will coincide with the centennial of Robert Johnson’s birth. More information on the festival is available here. (via

HT Recommends: Budos Band

Where: Tappen Park

When: Wednesday, August 3, 7 PM

Official Info: The Budos Band’s energy and passion drives their live performances from start to finish.

With their eclectic array of influences like the Cairo Jazz Band, J.C. Davis, Mulatu Astatke, and Black Sabbath, The Budo Band brings an explosion of sound and styles with the juxtaposition of tight rhythms, blistering breakbeats, and blaring horns, creating “instrumental, Staten Island afro-soul,” according to the New York Times. Their third album, Budos III, expresses the band’s tight-knit and creative bond that they have come to share since the ten-piece ensemble’s inception in 2003. With the tight musical vision shared between the members, The Budos Band has been successful with album sales and worldwide tours, playing at rock clubs and large festival stages. Reaching out to a variety of fans, their music is enjoyed by a fan base that spans all genres and ages. With each show, they hypnotize audiences with their riffs, as the percussions and horns create rhythms that blend together, keeping the audience wanting more.

Other Free Shows At Tappen Park: 8/2 – The Sugarhill Gang, 8/4 – Andy Cooney

HT Recommends: Deer Tick

Where: River Rocks Festival – Pier 54

When: Thursday, August 11, Doors 6 PM

Official Info: Fronted by guitarist, singer-songwriter John McCauley, Deer Tick has a unique musical style that encompasses punk, blues, folk, garage rock, grunge and country.  Reviews of the band’s near-legendary live shows proclaim the band as “louder, rawer and more raucous than anyone who’s heard their records could’ve thought possible.”

Other Free Shows At Pier 54: 7/14 – tUnE-YarDs, 7/28 – Metronomy

HT Recommends: Zac Brown Band

Where: Today Show Summer Concert Series – Rockefeller Plaza

When: Friday, August 12, 7AM

Official Info: Fans and visitors are encouraged to join us on the plaza for the live performances. Viewing is on a first-come, first-served basis outside TODAY’s window-on-the-world studio, located at 49th Street and Rockefeller Plaza in New York City. Fans should arrive by 6 a.m. for best viewing.

Other Free Today Show Summer Concert At Rockefeller Plaza: 5/27 – Rihanna, 6/2 – American Idol Winner & Runner-Up, 6/3 – New Kids On The Block / Backstreet Boys, 6/10 – The Script, 6/17 – Kenny Chesney, 6/24 – Bruno Mars, 7/1 – Pitbull f. T-Pain & Ne-Yo, 7/8 – Blake Shelton, 7/15 – Cee Lo Green, 7/29 – Journey, 8/5 – Maroon 5, 8/19 – Enrique Iglesias, 8/26 – Train, 9/2 – Lenny Kravitz

HT Recommends: WAVVES

Where: East River Park

When: Thursday, August 25, 7:00PM

Official Info: Nathan Williams has been on a major ascent in the indie rock world since the first two albums worth of naive punk rock he recorded behind his parents’ San Diego home as Wavves became a sensation in the world of indie music.

His newest release, 2010’s King of the Beach is an adventurous and ambitious record. It cuts deeper into the bleeding throat catharsis and 60’s sunshine soul that Wavves is known for. It also unexpectedly flips out with elements of primitive electronics and psychedelic studio experimentation. Unlike Wavves’ previously released material, recorded in haphazard bursts on Williams’ laptop, King of the Beach was toiled over for three months, producing an end result that is multi-layered with inspiration. Hailed by numerous critics as a top album of 2010, Rolling Stone notes, “a one-man bedroom experiment blossoms into a real band, with Jay Reatard’s feisty backing duo and Modest Mouse’s producer beefing up low-fi strumming, smiling melodies and zonked studio whimsy.”

Other Free Shows At East River Park: 8/24 – Cold Crush Brothers

HT Recommends: Charlie Parker Jazz Festival featuring Archie Shepp Quartet, Madeline Peryoux, Anat Cohen, The Gerald Clayton Trio

Where: Tompkins Square Park

When: Sunday, August 28, 3 PM

Official Info: Saxophone player, composer, pianist, singer, politically committed poet, playwright, Archie Shepp is a legend.

He has entertained audiences around the world for nearly 50 years with his multi-instrumental talents. Shepp’s music emulates the themes and stylistic elements provided by the greatest voices of jazz. His music highlights the juxtaposition of original black American music: blues and spirituals. At the head of the Avant-Garde Free Jazz movement, Shepp combines his own unique style with his inspirations: the wild raspiness of his attacks, his massive sound sculpted by a vibrato mastered in all ranges, his phrases carried to breathlessness, his abrupt level changes, and the intensity of his tempos, but also the velvety tenderness woven into a ballad.

Inspired by the cornerstones of jazz, songstress Madeleine Payroux, began her music career as a teenage busker on the quaint, acoustic streets of Europe, where she enhanced her vocal and guitar skills. The New York Times said she “could inhabit Billie Holiday and Edith Piaf, doing the tragic, pinched-voice thing perfectly.” Peyroux is best known by her fans for intimately arranged covers of the early American blues and jazz repertoire. With her latest album Bare Bones, she explores a different realm of expressing herself through a collection of self-penned compositions and collaborations.

An established bandleader and prolific composer, idiomatically conversant with modern and traditional jazz, classical music, Brazilian choro, Argentine tango, and an expansive timeline of Afro-Cuban styles, Anat Cohen has established herself as one of the primary voices of her generation on both the tenor saxophone and clarinet. The New York Times has said of her work, “In many ways she’s an ideal: well prepared, passionately literate in music far outside her local circle, [and] an improviser with gusto.”

Grammy nominated Gerald Clayton, born in the Netherlands to a musical family, was exposed to a variety of music styles at an early age. His passion and talent on the piano was immediate and allowed him to cultivate his dynamic sound with audiences nationally and internationally, while sharing the stage with numerous jazz greats. His sophisticated yet modern style has been praised by the Jazz Times and Los Angeles Times. Clayton’s trio, with Justin Brown (drums) and Joe Sanders (bass), allows him to explore and expand his creativity in music. Their “arrangements, full of broken and stuttered rhythm, pinpoint dynamics and classically ordered introductions” give audiences an experience of “three dimensions…focused down to one,” according to the New York Times.

HT Recommends: Florence & The Machine

Where: Good Morning America Summer Concert Series – Rumsey Playfield

When: TBD

Official Info: Viewers interested in joining “GMA” in Central Park are encouraged to arrive at Summerstage Rumsey Playfield via the 72nd Street entrance on Fifth Avenue at 6 a.m., when the park opens to the public.

With the exception of Lady Gaga being a free, ticketed event, all concerts are free and open to the public and will take place live during “Good Morning America,” Fridays from 7 to 9 a.m. ET. Dates and additional acts will be announced throughout the summer.

Other Free GMA Concerts At Rumsey Playfield: 5/27 – Lady Gaga, Performance Dates TBD – Beyonce, Mary J. Blige & Jennifer Hudson, Selena Gomez, Nicki Minjai, Top 11 American Idol Contestants, Taio Cruz, Goo Goo Dolls, Brad Paisley, Mirana Lambert, The Go-Go’s, Debbie Gibson & Tiffany

Damrosch Park

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