Thursday, June 4, 2009

Big names at the Bandshell

David Bryne (Photo)

By Thomas Tracy

Who needs Jones Beach?

Prospect Park will be one of the hottest concert destinations this year as over two dozen performers as eclectic as our borough spice up the summer during a Celebrate Brooklyn! 2009 extravaganza.

The free concert series line-up will begin with the iconic new-wave stylings of “Talking Heads” headliner David Byrne on June 8 and continue to groove throughout July and August, ending with the freak folk sensation “Animal Collective” on August 14 and 15.

Other stellar performers coming to the Prospect Park Bandshell include Bonnie Raitt and Taj Mahal (August 12), Jackson Browne (July 21), They Might Be Giants – For Kids! (July 11) and Goran Bregovic & His Weddings & Funerals Orchestra (June 11).

The purple-clad Prince will also be found on stage, but only on celluloid as the group Escort leads the audience on a “Purple Rain Sing-Along” (August 6).

Other movies shown this year during the Celebrate Brooklyn Music and Movie series (which will be seen on New York’s largest outdoor film screen, mind you) include the Mexican science fiction thriller “La Nave de Los Monstrous” with a live score by Ethel and Gutbucket (June 20).

Several dance performances are also scheduled.

Organizers predict that Celebrate Brooklyn attendees will not only enjoy a host of performances that not only span varying musical styles, but the globe as well.

For Byrne, the Celebrate Brooklyn! kickoff will be a layover from his year-long world tour celebrating his 30-year collaboration with producer Brian Eno, who had previously worked with Roxy Music, David Bowie and Robert Fripp before tackling the Talking Heads.

“We all know that Brooklyn has been the explosively creative borough in the tri-state area for quite some time, so it only made sense to acknowledge that by doing a show at the Celebrate Brooklyn! festival in Prospect Park,” Byrne said in a statement. “Given the cost of concert tickets these days, the poor hedge fund guys and investment bankers can no longer afford them. So made sense to do a free show, as the tour has been going incredibly well and we can afford it.”

Byrne said that he has seen a number of Celebrate Brooklyn! concerts in the park, including “a great Manu Chao show a few years ago.”

The concert series, which will celebrate its 40th anniversary this year -- is also going to be eco-friendly, with an expanded recycling program and a bicycle “parking zone.”

Organizers made sure that the Celebrate Brooklyn concert series entered its fourth decade chock full of choices for not only returning festival lovers, but for a host of new attendees.

“When BRIC launched Celebrate Brooklyn in 1979, our free programming was a welcome cultural innovation that celebrated Brooklyn’s diversity and deployed the arts as economic stimulus and community builder,” explained Leslie Schultz, Executive Director of BRIC Arts Media Bklyn. “The Festival also changed the cultural landscape in Brooklyn, by giving audiences access to performances of the highest quality and providing artists with a Brooklyn platform for their work.”

Schultz said that the festival has become a “cherished summer tradition” not just for Brooklynites, but for “the rest of New York City and visitors from around the world.”

Most of the concerts are free (a $3 donation is recommended), but the Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt and Taj Mahal, and Animal Collective shows are benefit concerts and require tickets.


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