The greatest summer bargain in New York is the free music at Summerstage in Central Park. A few weeks back I went to see Balkan Beat Box, an amazing band founded by two Israelis which gave one of the best live music performances I have ever seen at any venue, anywhere.
Being a “real” New Yorker, I tend not to think too much about Brooklyn, which I know is just plain wrong. So at the urging of my youngest son, I biked out to Prospect Park, where there is the Brooklyn equivalent of Summerstage. This Saturday they were having an African Festival, which basically meant a bunch of bands from Africa.
I was blown away when I finally hit 7th avenue and 2nd street and saw the yuppie haven that Prospect Park has become. This is Brooklyn? Not the Brooklyn of my childhood, for sure. Ok I’m being a bit over-dramatic – I’ve been to Brooklyn many times over the past four years and know how much its changed. Still, this photo captures my reaction. Jeez, Prospect Park makes the Upper West Side look shabby.
Anyway, back to the African Music Festival. When I got there it was around 3ish. I locked my bike up and even though I left over four hours later, no one even stole my plastic ducky horn (unlike the UWS, where over the past two weeks my son’s friends bike seat was stolen and my son’s bike was “traded” by some ethical thief).
I made the mistake of getting there too early. The warm up band was “eh” and I was too tired to hang around for the climactic event at 8PM – Lagbaja.
But I did see one good band from Madagascar – Razia.
Razia’s way hotter than you can see in the picture and she has an amazing voice. The staff were acting like a bunch of a—-es and stopping everyone from trying to photograph the artists (hey, this is a public space folks!!) so I had to sneak taking photos. Unfortunately she sang too many Kenny G type sappy love songs. But when she let her percussion section rip loose, it was truly amazing.
The next band, KÉKÉLÉ, from the Congo, were incredible.
They weren’t overly showy, and barely spoke to the audience, but by the end of their hour on stage, there wasn’t a person left in the audience who wasn’t up and dancing.
I understand the remaining shows at Prospect Park won’t be “free” (unlike Summerstage you can’t get in without paying 3 dollars – a real bargain, but still not free). But the summer isn’t over yet, and there remains lot’s of interesting bands coming to Central Park.