Tag Archives: Lincoln Center Out of Doors

Asphalt Orchestra plays the Pixies: Surfer Rosa — FREE this Sunday

Asphalt Orchestra performing on the Lincoln Center Plaza. (Photo © 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

Asphalt Orchestra performing on the Lincoln Center Plaza. (Photo © 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

Avant-garde marching band will open for a Kronos Quartet ‘Kronos at 4o’ show

Asphalt Orchestra hits Lincoln Center Out of Doors this Sunday, July 28 with a brand-new project: a cover of the fan-favorite Pixies album Surfer Rosa.

The avant-garde marching band, a cocreation of LCOOD and Bang on a Can, is well known for its inventive reinvention of pop songs mixed with compositions written specifically for the costumed clan.

Asphalt Orchestra co-leader Ken Thomson describes the evening this way:

We are covering the classic Pixies record Surfer Rosa.
45 minutes of new music, Asphalt-style, choreographed and on stage.
All arranged by us in super-cool arrangements that use the original as a canvas for truly new versions of these tunes.

The free show starts at 6 p.m. with a set of Asphalt classics (Bjork, Zappa, Bregovic) on the plaza.

At 6:30, the music moves to the Damrosch Park Bandshell where Jacob Garchik’s “atheist gospel trombone project” The Heavens will be performed.

Asphalt plays next and then the evening’s headliner, Kronos Quartet, takes over.
Every second of music is free, with no ticket required and nobody hassling you for a  “donation” at the gate. Lincoln Center Out of Doors is one of those rare New York City institutions that truly is free — even free of guilt.

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Make time for Lincoln Center Out Of Doors | ALL SHOWS FREE

Singer-songwriter Erin McKeown performs at the 2012 Lincoln Center Out Of Doors festival. (Photo © 2012, Steven P. Marsh)

Singer-songwriter Erin McKeown was one of many performers at the 2012 Lincoln Center Out Of Doors festival. (Photo © 2012, Steven P. Marsh)

Stellar summer lineup of free concerts

The flyer for Lincoln Center Out Of Doors arrived in my mailbox the other day. It reminded me that I hadn’t posted a single word about this free outdoor concert series yet.

So here goes. It’s a super linuep, as always, meticulously planned by Bill Bragin, director of public programming, and his amazing team.

For now, just let me mention a few names: Kronos Quartet, Asphalt Orchestra, Allen Toussaint, Sahr Ngaujah, Dan Deacon, Jherek Bischoff, Jacob Garchik, Dan Zanes and Ozomatli. (Along with Nick Lowe, My Brightest Diamond, Trixie Whitley, James Burton and Desert Blues. And Rubén Blades, Jason Isbell, Sleepy LaBeef and Amanda Palmer & Grand Theft Orchestra.)

Does that whet your appetite? If not, you’re probably reading the wrong blog.

The free outdoor shows start July 24 and run through Aug. 11 at various locations around the Lincoln Center campus on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

Check out the whole lineup by clicking or tapping here (http://bit.ly/15MOo6P).

I hope to see you there.

Ken Thomson joins Bang on a Can All-Stars

When Evan Ziporyn recently left the Bang on a Can All-Stars, it seemed to us that there was inly one player who immediately came to mind as a replacement: Ken Thomson.

We met him when he was working for Bang on a Can’s Cantaloupe record label. But we quickly discovered what a fantastic, versatile wind player and composer he is.

You might know him as the peripatetic sax-playing leader of Gutbucket, or a leader of the Bang-Lincoln Center Out of Doors marching band, Asphalt Orchestra.

No matter how you know him, you know he’s up to the challenge of filling Evan’s shoes and taking the All-Stars to the next level.

Congratulations to Ken. Well done.

Here’s the press release:

Bang on a Can All-Stars Welcome Ken Thomson

We are thrilled to welcome high voltage clarinetist Ken Thomson to the Bang on a Can All-Stars! This past year, during our national search, we played with stunning clarinetists from all over the country. We were honored to share the stage with so many great performers. After a search far and wide, in the end we came back home to one of our own. Ken has been a part of the Bang on a Can family for many years. As a founding member of Asphalt Orchestra (our rad street band) and as faculty at the Bang on a Can Summer Festival at MASS MoCA, Ken has graced us with his dynamic and physical performances.

He has already jumped right in with a European tour taking place right now through Belgium, Sweden, the UK, and Iceland, to be followed by his first home-town performance as an official All-Stars at the Bang on a Can Marathon on Sunday June 16.

Welcome Ken!

Todd Reynolds, Sxip Shirey and friends steal the show

Sxip Shirey, Todd Reynolds and friends at Lincoln Center Out of Doors. (Photos © 2011, Steven P. Marsh)

How often do you go to a show and feel like you’ve heard such an amazing opening act that you’re ready to skip the headliner?

Not often, I’ll bet.

Todd Reynolds

But that’s exactly the way I felt at Lincoln Center Out of Doors on Wednesday night, Aug. 10. It was another triumph in New York’s best free outdoor concert series, which The New York Times describes perfectly as “generous, warm, high-spirited real entertainment for a big audience.”

Don’t get me wrong, Laurie Anderson was the headliner of the free show in Lincoln Center’s Damrosch Park. She is — and was that night — amazing. But openers Todd Reynolds and Sxip Shirey, joined by six violinists and a tuba player, blew the house down with their collaboration. I could have gone home floating on air after their set, feeling perfectly satisfied.

Lou Reed slips heads backstage at Lincoln Center Out of Doors.

Todd, the inimitable Digifiddler, kicked off his set with some of the inventive work from his new album, Outerborough. Laurie’s husband, Lou Reed, slipped through the crowd and backstage while Todd was really wailing on “Crossroads,” a Michael Lowenstern-composed “duet” with bluesman Robert Johnson.

In short order, Todd was joined by six more violinists, each of whom is pretty amazing in his or her own right (Caleb Burhans, Conrad Harris, Pauline Kim Harris, Yuki Numata, Courtney Orlando, and Ben Russell). The Sxip, the multi-instrumentalist clown prince of the NYC indie music scene entered along with Adam Matta (the Human Beatbox) and tuba player Don Godwin of Raya Brass Band. (Check out a rehearsal clip of Todd and Sxip cutting loose here.)

The energy that flowed among all these talented musicians as they jammed onstage was palpable. And there was lots of love flowing from stage to audience and back again.

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Todd Reynolds, Sxip Shirey and an ‘awesome array of violinists’ open for Laurie Anderson tonight

The Digifiddler himself, Todd Reynolds. (Photos © 2011, Steven P. Marsh)

Sxip Shirey opening for Cibo Matto at Brooklyn Bowl in July 2011. (© 2011, Steven P. Marsh)

When Laurie Anderson takes the stage at Lincoln Center Out of Doors in Damrosch Park on Wednesday night, Aug. 10, the crowd will already have gotten wound up with the sonic stylings of the Digifiddler himself, Todd Reynolds, along with multi-instrumentalist Sxip Shirey, human beatbox Adam Matta, and a clutch of New York’s best violinists (Caleb Burhans, Conrad Harris, Pauline Kim Harris, Yuki Numata, Courtney Orlando, and Ben Russell).

I don’t know exactly what’s in store with this performance and haven’t asked Todd. I know it’ll be creative and entertaining — and I want to be surprised.

Adam Matta

Oh, and by the way, Laurie Anderson’s a great live performer, too. Be sure to stick around after Todd, Sxip and company are finished.

Laurie Anderson

The show starts at 7:30 p.m. at the Guggenheim Bandshell in Damrosch Park, behind New York State Theater in Lincoln Center. There are plenty of seats, room to roam and there are food and drink vendors on site. Admission is free.

Don’t miss it. It promises to be spectacular.

Lincoln Center Out of Doors announces 2011 lineup

Get ready for another amazing summer of free music and dance in Damrosch Park at Lincoln Center.

Bill Bragin, director of public programming, on Tuesday morning announced the Lincoln Center Out of Doors lineup. And it’s a doozy, featuring Billy Bragg, Mavis Staples, Lesley Gore, the Family Stone, Laurie Anderson, Tan Dun and much, much more.

Lincoln Center Out of Doors kicks off July 27 and runs through Aug. 14. It’s all free and worth checking out.

Click here for all the details.

Ethel Fair Launches Lincoln Center Out Of Doors

Crews were making the final preparations to Damrosh Park on Tuesday night for Wednesday's premiere of the 2010 edition of Lincoln Center Out Of Doors. (Copyright 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

The fabulous Lincoln Center Out of Doors festival starts Wednesday night with a bit of Civil Rights Movement street theater at 6:30 at Barclays Capital Grove (the sponsored name for the plaza between Lincoln Center Theater and Avery Fisher Hall and moves into full-bore music mode at 7:30 in Damrosch Park with Ethel Fair: The Songwriters.

Ethel is Ralph Farris (viola), Mary Rowell (violin), Dorothy Lawson (cello) and Cornelius Dufallo (violin).

Ethel is a string quartet like no other string quartet you’ve seen or heard. These four skilled players, who are quite active together and separately on the international contemporary music scene, have been working in collaborative mode over the past several years. Their latest project, which has its world premiere at the Lincoln Center Out of Doors festival,  features the quartet yoked with songwriters who are quite well known on their own. Pop tunesmith Adam Schlesinger (a member of pop bands Fountains of Wayne and Ivy and composer of Broadway’s “Cry Baby”), assisted by Mike Viola (Candy Butchers), has created a work with Ethel. Other collaborators include folk-blues dynamo Dayna Kurtz, punk-New Wave pioneer Tom Verlaine (Television) and folky Argentine singer-songwriter Juana Molina.

Ethel always pushes boundaries with its work. This collaborative effort appears to reach for a broader, more mainstream appeal than some of the band’s more left-of-center efforts, such as its ongoing TruckStop project, which takes the band on the road to work with and celebrate indigenous cultures. But it’s certain to provide a richly entertaining evening.

No Snakes In This Grass is the title of the theater piece, written by James Magnuson and directed by Mical Whitaker, that kicks off the evening. It’s a comedy set in the Garden of Eden that deals issues of race and the Fall.

This is just the first night of a jam-packed schedule of fabulous free music and performance art that runs through Aug. 15. For the full Lincoln Center Out of Doors schedule, read the press release after the jump. Continue reading

Fela! storms Lincoln Center’s Midsummer Night Swing — and Femi Kuti plays, too!

Sahr Ngaujah, star of the Broadway musical Fela!, leads Midsummer Night Swing dance lessons on Monday night. (Photos copyright 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

Femi Kuti & The Positive Force may have been the headline act at tonight’s special Monday night edition of Midsummer Night Swing, but the cast members from Fela! on Broadway who taught the preshow dance lesson were just as big a draw — and equally exciting — for many in the audience.

Jill Vallery (in blue T-shirt, left), the dance captain from Fela!, worked hard to keep the crowd dancing.

Sahr Ngaujah, who created the title role of Fela Anikulapo Kuti off-Broadway, and shares the role on Broadway with Kevin Mambo, joined Fela! dance captain Jill Vallery and a host of dancers from the stage spectacle as they whipped the wannabe Afrobeat dancers into a frenzy. Many of the people in the audience, like yours truly, ably demonstrated that they had two left feet when it came to following the athletic and intricate steps involved. But that didn’t deter many from trying. But the real test came later, when the real dance party started. Click through for more photos. Continue reading

Femi Kuti kicks off the final week of Midsummer Night Swing at Lincoln Center Out of Doors

Femi Kuti

Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? has been distracted this summer. There’s been a lot going on, musically speaking, around NYC and environs so far. As a result, we’ve neglected our friends at Midsummer Night Swing at Lincoln Center.

But on Monday night, the start of MNS’s final week  for 2010 — hard to believe — Femi Kuti & The Positive Force are taking over Damrosch Park. And we can’t fail you this time. Even if you think you can’t dance, you should be at this show. It’s hard not to at least feel like you can dance when Femi Kuti takes the stage. His version of Afrobeat — he’s one of Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s two musical sons, the other being Seun Kuti who inherited his father’s band Egypt 80 — has an insistent beat and a joyous feel that can get anyone to dance. (Fela Kuti, you may recall, is the subject of the fantastic Broadway musical, Fela!, directed by Bill T. Jones.)

The fun starts at 6:30 p.m. with a dance lesson with Sahr Ngaujah, star Fela!, and the music starts at 7. Tickets are $17 and available at Damrosch Park, at West 62nd Street and Amsterdam Avenue, or online. And there are more shows throughout the week: Catherine Russell and Cat & The Hounds Swing Band on Wednesday, Loser’s Lounge Ladies Night on Thursday, La Exelencia on Friday and, wrapping up this year’s dance season, a kids’ dance party at 3 p.m. Saturday followed by the Harlem Renaissance Orchestra on Saturday evening.

Quest for the grail: Lincoln Center Out of Doors version of A Crimson Grail for 200 electric guitars to be released on Nonesuch

It’s been a long time coming. First it was rained out in 2008. Finally, after a great deal of additional planning and with the blessing of the weatherman, Ronen Givony of Wordless Music and Bill Bragin, director of public programming at Lincoln Center, managed to stage the NYC version of Rhys Chatham‘s A Crimson Grail for 200 Electric Guitars (Outdoor Version) at Lincoln Center Out of Doors last season. (Loyal Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? readers will remember our coverage.)

Composer Rhys Chatham conducts his A Crimson Grail at Lincoln Center Out of Doors in 2009. (Copyright 2009, Steven P. Marsh)

On Sept. 14, a recording of that monumental performance is being released by Nonesuch. What a long, strange trip it’s been.

The magnificent, drone-based piece was mind-blowing in performance. Damrosch Park seemed ready to levitate from the amazing sonic pressure from the volunteer guitarists (plus 16 bassists and the sound of one hi-hat cymbal keeping the beat). I’ve heard the recording of the indoor Paris version of the piece, and while it’s amazing, it doesn’t quite do justice to the work. But I have high hopes that Nonesuch’s effort will top that.

Here’s the press release:

Nonesuch Records releases A Crimson Grail—Rhys Chatham’s work for large electric guitar orchestra—on September 14, 2010. Written in 2005 as a commission for the city of Paris, A Crimson Grail premiered at the basilica of Sacré-Coeur. It was created to work with the specific architecture of the basilica, making use of its natural 15-second reverberation time. The musicians surrounded the audience, creating an antiphonal effect with the sound moving around the space from area to area. Scored for as many as four hundred guitarists, an orchestra of approximately 125 musicians performed the premiere, to great acclaim.

The Dallas Observer said of a recording of that concert, “Beautifully intricate and harmonically dense, A Crimson Grail is nearly ambient in tone while pursuing a beauty that never seems beyond its scope.” When Lincoln Center Out of Doors and Wordless Music invited Chatham to mount A Crimson Grail in New York at the Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival, the composition had to be completely reworked for the acoustics of an exterior, non-reverberant setting. The Nonesuch recording captures the subsequent 2009 performance, in Lincoln Center’s Damrosch Park, with 200 electric guitars, 16 electric basses, 5 conductors, and percussion.

Rhys Chatham is a composer, guitarist, and trumpet player from Manhattan, currently living in Paris. He was the founder of the music program at The Kitchen in downtown Manhattan in 1971 and was its music director between 1971–73 and 1977–80. While at The Kitchen he was responsible for programming more than 250 concerts of living composers including the NEW MUSIC / NEW YORK Festival, which was the prototype upon which the NEW MUSIC AMERICA Festival was later based. Chatham studied under, was influenced by, or has collaborated with Maryanne Amacher, Don Cherry, Tony Conrad, Jon Hassell, Charlemagne Palestine, Eliane Radigue, Terry Riley, Frederic Rzewski, Morton Subotnick, Serge Tcherepnin, and La Monte Young, among many others.

Click through to the jump for Givoney’s personal account of the journey from an idea in 2007 to a reality n 2009.

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