Ah, sweet summer, you have returned making your presence known and not by the date on the calendar indicating the beginning of the summer solstice (usually June 20th or 21st), but by your blinding sun rays and Mother Nature’s wrath of humidity encouraging New Yorkers to show a little more skin, spend their lunch breaks outside, and hum the rhythmic repetitious Mr. Softee theme that has likely wormed its way into passerby’s ears.
New York City, or the nickname coined by Jay-Z, the “concrete jungle”, does not necessarily summon non-beach-goers inside and beside an A/C to escape the brutal urban heatscape. Summertime in New York City, in fact, offers a seasonal opportunity for music lovers, like us here at Novo, to sizzle while wiggling to the sounds and beats of genres so diverse it leaves our visitors without wonder of why our city is often referred to as a ‘melting pot’ of culture.
From big-named indie-rock bands on the Central Park mainstage situated at Rumsey Playfield, to the rhymes and raps performed by classic NYC hip-hop artists in outerborough parks and outdoor spaces, SummerStage is the true highlight of the warm-weather performing arts calendar. Noting that music is always a matter of personal taste, just as is the decision to opt for a hamburger vs. a hotdog at a BBQ, the series presents over 100 shows in 16 parks across all five boroughs making it possible for you to be musically nourished and artistically satisfied. And here’s the rainbow sprinkles on your ice cream cone: it’s FREE (well, a majority of which are free).
To our Novo novices and to our longtime friends: think of me as your Guru to awesome live-music and feel good days splayed out on the grass in front of a performance stage. Here’s the lowdown to note fore you begin ticket-hunting:
Throughout August, the yearly Charlie Parker Jazz Festival visits Marcus Garvey Park and Tompkins Square Park with Joshua Redman Quartet, Lou Donaldson, Terri Lyne Carrington and Social Science, Anat Cohen Tenet, and others. But wait, there’s more jazz with Robert Glasper on June 25h, and the godfather of Ethiopian jazz, Mulatu Astake on August 20th; both taking the Central Park stage.
As for the festival’s celebration of local NYC hip-hop heroes, such as the iconic Bronx MC KRS-One on June 25th, influential storyteller Slick Rick the Ruler on July 7th, Queens duo Capone-N-Noreaga on July 16, Brooklyn wordsmith MC Lyte on July 30th, and Diplomat’s member Jim Jones on August 19th.
The rest of the line-up contains a little something for everyone including a handful of non-free benefit shows happening in Central Park that features Umphrey’s McGee on July 7th, PJ Harvey on July 19th, Regina Spektor on the 27th; The Revivalists / White Denim on August 10th; and Young the Giant with special guests Cold War Kids and Joywave culminating the summer series on September 13th.
So, now you’ve learned that you don’t need to leave the city for the beach to participate in outdoor summer festivities; you should still prep your sunscreen and sealed plastic or refillable water bottles (the latter allowed entry into the Central Park venue). Summer in NYC is arguably the best season for live music lovers, party animals, and those just looking to happily dance and meet new people beneath the sun.