Thursday, June 18, 2009

Pick a corner and make some music

By Meredith Deliso

The sound of music will be in the air on June 21, as hundreds of live shows will take place in Brooklyn, as well as throughout the city, in the annual Make Music NY festival.

Of the nearly hundred spots participating in Brooklyn, most are where you’d expect to see music on a Friday night, such as Williamsburg’s Public Assembly and Goodbye Blue Monday, while others may be an unexpected surprise to unassuming patrons.

Shopping in your local C-Town, that won’t be the usual muzak you’re hearing as you shuffle through the aisles, as Majuscules, Parachuting, Alex Greiner and The Wednels are set to serenade you at the Bushwick food store.

While scouring for hidden designer duds at Buffalo Exchange in Williamsburg, A-Don, Ecotone Refugees, Vulture Realty, and The Ravages will add some background music. Refurbishing your apartment at Greenpoint Furniture? Don’t be surprised when William Beaufort whips out his banjo to play some tunes.

At the Mast Brothers Chocolate Factory in Williamsburg, take in the sounds of Frankenpine and Pot Belly Gumbo, blue-grass influenced acoustic fare at the city’s only bean-to-bar chocolate maker, which opened earlier this year.

On the Boardwalk in Coney Island, amid the usual shouts and carnival sounds, an interactive music festival will be underway. No, it’s not the Siren Music Festival. Presented by Manhattan New Music Project and curated by David Simons, this seaside fare features Joshua Fried’s shoes and steering wheel, John Morton’s altered music boxes, Dafna Naphtali’s computer-altered vocals, Jane Rigler’s electronic flute, David Simons’s Theremin sampler, and Zemi Taylor Kuffner’s robot-playing Gamelan.

You won’t have to go all the way to Lincoln Center to hear opera; Fort Greene Park will be home to the American Opera Projects’ “The Voice of Brooklyn: Opera and Song from the People’s Republic,” featuring composers Michael Rose, Daniel Felsenfeld, and Jennifer Griffith, and fellow opera companies Rhymes With Opera and Opera On Tap.

Though many of the borough’s neighborhoods will host musical performances on the streets and in their stores, the majority occur, not surprisingly, in the music destination that is North Brooklyn. Nearly 190 bands will perform on the neighborhoods’ sidewalks, including Lowry, Casey Shea Band, and Dinosaur Feathers at Matchless, Cinema, Cinema at Goodbye Blue Monday, pow wow! at McCarren Park, Renminbi at Bushwick Music Studios, and Sigmund Droid at 3rd Ward.

In addition to taking in your local musicians, you’ll have a couple chances to make music yourself through MMNY’s new Mass Appeal program. At the city’s only all-Arabic music store, Rashid Music Sales in Cobble Hill, join in with Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum in a sing-along, starting at 1 p.m, with live performances to follow. (To participate, email Sami Shumays aat about preparing a few songs).

Play the accordion? At JJ Bryne Park in Park Slope, Bob Goldberg premieres his “Neighborhood Suite” for 12 members of the Famous Accordion Orchestra, and creates an “accordion forest” with all interested accordion players. The Main Squeeze Orchestra will then lead a parade with color guards in formation, and a tango session. (To be one “tree” in that accordion forest, email Goldberg at to request sheet music.)

That’s only a sampling of what’s happening that day, so for a comprehensive list of what’s going on or near your block, go to, where you can browse festival events by starting time, genre, type of venue, and neighborhood. To search the Brooklyn shows, go here.

Out of town that weekend? There might be a similar festival by you, as MMNY takes place simultaneously with similar festivities in more than 300 cities around the world. For more information, go to


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