Celebrate Brooklyn! Performing Arts Festival Kicks Off Today, 6/5


Celebrate Brooklyn! previously announced its lineup for this year, which begins today, June 5 with a free concert by reggae icon Jimmy Cliff.

Like its namesake borough, Celebrate Brooklyn! continues to grow. The season has expanded to 32 performances with a wide range of artists from around the world and from Brooklyn appearing at the Prospect Park Bandshell. Presenting Sponsor Google Play will enable attendees to get free music from Celebrate Brooklyn! performing artists on the Google Play store. A new partnership with NPR Music will make select Celebrate Brooklyn! concerts accessible to a global audience, through broadcast on public radio stations, including New York’s own WNYC, WBGO and WFUV, and free streaming at npr.org/music. Scheduled concerts for broadcast include Jimmy Cliff, Hot Chip, Dirty Projectors, Sigur Ros and Calle 13, among others to be announced.

“I’ve seen a lot of concerts in my life, but never one as memorable as the Celebrate Brooklyn! presentation of Sufjan Stevens in 2011,” says Bob Boilen, host and creator of NPR Music’s All Songs Considered. “So this year, it’s time we share the best of the festival at NPR Music and public radio.”

The festival’s platform is expanding within Brooklyn, too: This year, Brooklyn Independent Television, a community media program of BRIC, will launch a new series of Celebrate Brooklyn! cablecasts, showing some of the most memorable concerts in the festival’s nearly 35-year history. These episodes began May 7, just in time for the second annual Celebrate Brooklyn! Bridge Dance Party series taking place on Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 1 on three consecutive Thursday nights in May. The Bridge Dance Party series features bands and DJs, a great lawn with sweeping views of the city, dance lessons, free valet bike parking and food trucks including Kimchi Taco, Kumquat Cupcakery, Morris Grilled Cheese, Pizza Moto and Rickshaw Dumplings.

This 34th summer at the Prospect Park Bandshell consists of 32 shows, 25 of them free (with a $3 suggested contribution at the gate). Two highlights of the free programming are premieres of performances commissioned by BRIC for Celebrate Brooklyn! On June 15, pianist Geri Allen and photographer/video artist Carrie Mae Weems will present Slow Fade to Black, an exploration of race and gender in America with projections by Weems and performances by Allen, Esperanza Spalding, Terri Lyne Carrington, Lizz Wright, Patrice Rushen, Howard University vocal group Afro Blue, the tap dancer Maurice chestnut and others. On June 30, Angelique Kidjo, joined by friends including Laurie Anderson, Sibongile Khumalo and Somi, will premiere Women Waging Peace, a multi-artist concert tribute to Kenyan activist and Noble Peace Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai, who passed away in September 2011. In connection with the concert, the Prospect Park Alliance will host a tree-planting ceremony in the park in honor of Maathai, and the Brooklyn Public Library will host a film screening and panel discussion on women, war and peace.

The lineup includes artists from across the U.S., Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa and Europe, including AfroCubism / Alsarah & the Nubatones (June 9), Laura Marling / Michael Kiwanuka / Willy Mason (June 14), Balkan Beat Box / Chico Trujillo / Nation Beat (June 16), TBA / Latice Crawford (June 21), Keb Mo / Natalia Zukerman (June 22), Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue / The Brooklyn Steppers / Dayna Kurtz (June 29), Souad Massi / Simon Shaheen (July 7), Machel Montano / BélO (July 20), The Head and the Heart / Lost in the Trees (July 27), Wild Flag / Mission of Burma (August 3), The Del McCoury Band / Cahalen Morrison & Eli West / Spirit Family Reunion (August 4), and Lyle Lovett & His Large Band / Aoife O’Donovan (August 11).

Bud Light will return as a Series Title Sponsor and present the Bud Light Music Series including the Lyricist Lounge 20th Anniversary featuring Ghostface Killah / Camp Lo / Astro and more (June 23) and Little Dragon / Frankie Rose / Voices of Black (August 10), and the Bud Light Latin Music Series with Calle 13 / Ana Tijoux / Ritmo Machine (co-presented with LAMC, July 13) and Arturo Sandoval / Arturo O’Farrill & The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra (July 21).

“For 11 great years, Bud Light has been proud to sponsor Celebrate Brooklyn!, a great summer tradition in New York’s most diverse and creative community,” said Beverly Freites, Geographic Marketing Manager, Anheuser-Busch.

Sweet Honey in the Rock will headline this year’s Ezra Jack Keats Family Concert on July 8. There will be dance performances by Ballet Hispanico (June 28) and Complexions Contemporary Ballet (August 9), and three events in the Celebrate Brooklyn! signature Music & Movies series, which pairs iconic films projected onto the festival’s enormous outdoor screen (50’ wide x 21’ high)—New York City’s largest—with special live music performances. These include a 35th anniversary screening of Saturday Night Fever(Tony Manero costumes welcome!) with an opening set by Bee Gees tribute band Tragedy (July 14); a The Muppet Movie (1979) sing-along with an opening set of Muppet music by The Losers Lounge (July 28); and a showing of Franco Zeffirelli’s multiple Academy Award-winning, Nino Rota-scored Romeo & Juliet, with an opening performance of The Love Show, a set of classic love songs reinvented by Helga Davis and other vocalists.

The other events in the season are Celebrate Brooklyn! benefit concerts, which offer rare opportunities to see great artists at a reasonable ticket price while supporting the festival’s free performances. This summer’s benefit concerts include Childish Gambino / Danny Brown / Schoolboy Q (June 26), Dirty Projectors / Wye Oak / Purity Ring (July 10), Hot Chip / Gang Gang Dance (July 18), Wilco / Lee Fields and the Expressions (July 23 ), Wilco / Lee Ranaldo Band (July 24), Sigur Ros (July 31) and M. Ward / Yo La Tengo (August 7).

A complete schedule of 2012 Celebrate Brooklyn! events can be found below.

This summer, beloved Ditmas Park eatery The Farm on Adderley will again offer a menu of seasonal, carefully sourced food, and the local artisans collective Etsy NY will make it possible for concertgoers to shop for a range of handmade goods.

Leslie Schultz, Executive Director of BRIC Arts | Media | Bklyn, said, “For 34 years, BRIC Arts | Media | Bklyn has proudly presented this festival of free performances by outstanding artists in the gorgeous setting of Prospect Park. We are so grateful to all of the individuals, businesses, foundations, agencies and elected officials who help to keep strong this tradition of free, diverse programming presented for all to enjoy.”

Jack Walsh, BRIC’s Director of Performing Arts and Executive Producer of Celebrate Brooklyn! said, “We are thrilled to announce our most robust lineup ever of free performances at the Prospect Park Bandshell. The season features a truly eclectic and world-class mix with both local and global artists, and an array of music, dance, spoken word and film that is sure to attract audiences from all of Brooklyn’s neighborhoods, New York City as a whole, and beyond.”

Emily Lloyd, President of the Prospect Park Alliance, which is a partner in presenting the festival, said: “Prospect Park welcomes Celebrate Brooklyn! back to the Park for its 34th summer of providing a wide variety of exciting programming at the Bandshell. Congratulations to Leslie Schultz, Jack Walsh and everyone at BRIC Arts | Media | Bklyn for creating this wonderful festival. We know that this year’s line-up will entertain longtime Park fans and hopefully attract a whole new generation to discover all that Prospect Park has to offer.”

Friends of Celebrate Brooklyn! memberships for individuals and small businesses offer reserved seats, Friends Tent access with food and beverage service, and ads for businesses. The Friends Tent is specially designed by Hecho Inc. design with supplies from IKEA Brooklyn. More information is available at www.bricartsmedia.org/cb.


TUESDAY, JUNE 5, 8:00 P.M.
Opening Night Concert
NPR Music Broadcast

The reggae legend performs this free concert celebrating the 50th anniversary of Jamaican independence, the 40th anniversary of the iconic film The Harder They Come, and 34 years of free shows at Celebrate Brooklyn! Cliff’s musical legacy stretches back nearly a half century—to the early ’60s and Hurricane Hattie, his first hit as a teenager in Kingston. He soon followed that with a string of hits that became classics of early ska, like “Miss Jamaica” and “King of Kings,” which then led him to Island Records. He released his debut album Hard Road to Travel in 1968, and broke through internationally the next year with Wonderful World, Beautiful People, which charted in Britain and the States. He has continued to tour and release music at a ferocious pace ever since, but it’s his starring role in 1975’s The Harder They Come and the songs he contributed to that soundtrack like “You Can Get It if You Really Want” and “Many Rivers to Cross”that have left the biggest mark. Those and his other originals on the album have a timeless quality and a universal appeal that transcend genre; they are instantly recognizable, and have become indelible pieces of the pop canon.

Cliff’s voice remains as singular and true as ever. Rolling Stone called his recent performance at this year’s Coachella “masterful.” He releases a highly anticipated album later this summer.

The show will be preceded by Celebrate Brooklyn!’s Opening Night Gala at 5:30 P.M. While the concert is free, gala tickets ($325 and up) entail reserved seats, in addition to cocktails, dinner and dancing: For gala guests and Friends of Celebrate Brooklyn!, there is an after party with the Brooklyn-based video-and-performance group Deadly Dragon Sound System, at 9:45 P.M.


AfroCubism is the all-star collaboration between Malian and Cuban musicians that famously never happened. In 1996, a group of Mali’s finest musicians were due to fly into Havana for a speculative collaboration with some of Cuba’s most brilliant singers and instrumentalists. For reasons that have never been made clear, the Malians never arrived. A very different album was recorded: The Buena Vista Social Club. But what about that original album? What riches might have been revealed in the interaction of virtuosi from one of Africa’s most musically rich territories, and from Cuba, whose music has origins in Africa, and which has in turn been hugely influential on the mother continent? The group has finally united, to the delight of music fans everywhere. AfroCubism features Eliades Ochoa, singer of the great Buena Vista theme “Chan Chan,” along with ngoni lute master Bassekou Kouyate and Super Rail Band guitarist Djelimady Tounkara, all from the original project. Joining them is Eliades’ Grupo Patria, amongst Cuba’s longest running and most revered bands, the mercurial kora genius Toumani Diabaté, the Malian griot singer Kasse Mady Diabaté and the balafon player Lassana Diabaté.

Alsarah & The Nubatones came together out of a collective love for Nubian music and a genuine belief that soul transcends all cultural and linguistic barriers. They blend a selection of Nubian 'songs of return' from the 1970s to today with original material and traditional music of central Sudan.

THURSDAY, JUNE 14, 7:00 P.M.

Just 16—a seemingly fully formed artist—when she leapt into the public eye in the UK in 2006, she has since signed to Virgin and released three extraordinarily acclaimed albums: her full-length debut, Alas I Cannot Swim, in 2008; 2010’s Mercury Prize-nominated I Speak Because I Can; and last year’s A Creature I Don’t Know. Such early promise might seem daunting, almost too much to live up to. But seeing Marling live, one has the immediate impression of an artist with volumes of work in her and a path ahead of boundless possibility.

At an earlier juncture but on a similar trajectory is the likewise preternaturally talented Michael Kiwanuka, a Londoner of Ugandan heritage who has emerged as the next star of the same scene. Having supported Adele on tour last year, Kiwanuka captured the BBC Sound of 2012 award and released his debut Home Again this March.

The enigmatic Martha’s Vineyard songwriter Willy Mason has toured with the likes of Radiohead and Beth Orton, but his popularity in the UK has always outpaced his profile at home. He delivers sophisticated and literate songs with a slow-burning, low-key intensity.

FRIDAY, JUNE 15, 8:00 P.M.

The pianist Geri Allen and the photographer and video artist Carrie Mae Weems team up for this world premiere commission. Slow Fade to Black combines Weems’ projections with live music by Allen’s new trio with fellow jazz giants Esperanza Spalding and Terri Lyne Carrington; Allen’s regular group, Timeline; Lizz Wright; Patrice Rushen; the Howard University vocal group Afro Blue; the tap dancer Maurice chestnut; and many surprise guests. Weems, who has a three-decade retrospective coming to the Guggenheim Museum this fall, explores issues of gender, race, and identity in her work. These themes inform Slow Fade to Black, in which live performance and video will comingle on stage and screen in unimagined ways.

SATURDAY, JUNE 16, 6:30 P.M.

This evening is a veritable melting pot of a dance party. Balkan Beat Box’s transcendent pan-Mediterranean bacchanal collides with the Chilean ska-punk-new cumbia of Chico Trujillo and the fusion of Brazilian maracatu drumming and New Orleans second line rhythms of Brooklyn’s own Nation Beat.

Balkan Beat Box was formed by NYC-based Israelis Tamir Muskat and Ori Kaplan, who had done time in the bands Firewater and Gogol Bordello, respectively. The collective grew out of an electro/Gypsy/punk project the two created in the early 2000s that fused ancient musical traditions with hip-hop, Jamaican dub, and other beat-driven styles to make world music for the club and the dancehall. They have always kept a political edge on their party music, and their latest album, Give (2012), is inspired by protest movements across the globe: from the Arab Spring, to Occupy Wall St., to Israel’s own massive social protests. It captures the cautious hope and re-energized spirit of our time.

Chico Trujillo is Chile's most prominent cumbia band—the soundtrack to parties from Santiago to Valparaiso. At home their mixture of classic cumbia, rock and ska fills stadiums. Now they are poised to break out on the international stage.

Nation Beat, led by the percussionist Scott Kettner and the powerhouse singer Liliana Araujo, is the first American group to record in Brazil with the legendary Mestre Walter and Maracatu Nação Estrela Brilhante—and the first Brazilian band to perform with Willie Nelson.


The Queens native Latice Crawford arrived on the contemporary gospel scene when she became a finalist on the second season of BET’s “Sunday Best,” and has since shared the stage with New Life Ministries (Richard Smallwood), Hezekiah Walker, Timothy Wright and David Bratton. Both her voice and her commitment are clear every time she performs; as she always says, “I don’t sing, I testify to a beat!”

FRIDAY, JUNE 22, 7:30 P.M.

A channeler of authentic Delta Blues and one of the form’s greatest modern interpreters, Keb’ Mo’ effortlessly incorporates other styles into his playing and storytelling in a celebration of African American roots music. Keb Mo's 2011 album The Reflection captures his musical spirit and virtuosity: the songs, which find him collaborating with such artists as India.Arie, Vince Gill, Marcus Miller, Dave Koz and David T Walker, have a deep emotional connection and show Mo’ to be a master at blending blues, jazz, R&B and soul through melody and rhythm. He’s here for a solo performance.

The dazzling Brooklynite Natalia Zukerman plays an opening set. Zukerman is a musical polyglot whose diverse influences include folk, jazz, blues, rock, bluegrass, country and even classical.

SATURDAY, JUNE 23, 7:30 P.M.
Bud Light Music Series

Many of the greatest names in the game have passed through the legendary Lyricist Lounge, and what began 20 years ago as an open mic night in a studio apartment on the LES has become one of the foremost showcases in hip-hop. Def Jam artist Ghostface Killah, the most prolific record-maker in the Wu-Tang Clan pantheon, headlines this birthday celebration. Celebrate Brooklyn! and Lyricist Lounge have a history that dates back to 2006 and includes shows with KRS-One, a Crooklyn Dodgers reunion, Big Daddy Kane and Raekwon. Check bricartsmedia.org for lineup updates.

TUESDAY, JUNE 26, 7:00 P.M.
Celebrate Brooklyn! Benefit Concert

Tickets are available via Ticketmaster, the Mercury Lounge box office and the Music Hall of Williamsburg box office.

THURSDAY, JUNE 28, 8:00 P.M.

The New York-based Ballet Hispanico’s innovative repertory fuses ballet, modern and Latin forms into a spirited image of the contemporary Latino diaspora. Founded in 1970 by Artistic Director Tina Ramirez, the company has performed at The John F. Kennedy Center, Houston’s Wortham Center, the Auditorium Theater in Chicago, UCLA’s Royce Hall, the Annenberg Center in Philadelphia, Wolf Trap, Jacob's Pillow, Boston's Celebrity Series and The Joyce Theater, as well as extensive international appearances from Zurich to Buenos Aires and beyond. A pioneer in the field of arts education, Ballet Hispanico’s innovative Education & Outreach division annually brings the company’s singular blend of dance and Hispanic culture to over 25,000 public school students and teachers in New York and across the nation. The dynamic program for Celebrate Brooklyn! highlights the extraordinary athleticism and playfulness of the company and includes Artistic Director Eduard Vilaro’s first piece for the company, Aruska, a celebration of the music of Celia Cruz, along with Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s flamenco-inspired Nube Blanco and Pedro Ruiz’s high-spirited Club Havana.