NEW YORK -- The swing sounds of the Brian Setzer Orchestra, the
dance-pop of Luscious Jackson and the eclectic grooves of the Jon Spencer
Blues Explosion will fill the air in Central Park this summer as part of
the annual SummerStage concert series.
Joining these artists set to play free shows in the world-famous park
will be rap pioneers the Sugar Hill Gang, offbeat pop duo They Might Be
Giants, and veteran rock singers Ronnie Spector and Marianne Faithfull
as well as three members of Texas band the Flatlanders.
"It's going to be a wonderful summer here; I'm really excited to have
my band playing," Luscious Jackson guitarist Gabby Glaser said.
Glaser, whose band will perform July 4 with the Jon Spencer Blues
Explosion and DJ Mix Master Mike, announced the SummerStage lineup at a
press conference Tuesday (May 4).
This year's program also will include a focus on electronic dance music
and turntablists. Mix Master Mike, who has toured with the Beastie Boys,
and radio DJ Liquid Todd are among those who'll play opening sets at
Among the other highlights of the summer concert series are benefit shows
by neo-swing band the Brian Setzer Orchestra on July 22, and reggae's
Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers on July 27.
The Sugar Hill Gang and They Might be Giants, who are scheduled to
perform June 19 and 20, respectively, will play shows intended to appeal
primarily to children. The Sugar Hill Gang's 1979 single "Rapper's Delight"
(RealAudio excerpt) was the first rap song to make the Billboard
A third benefit show, called Joni's Jazz, will feature rappers P.M. Dawn,
R&B singer Chaka Khan, former Living Colour guitarist Vernon Reid and
singer Duncan Sheik performing some of singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell's
more jazz-oriented compositions July 1. That show will be free, but
concert-goers will be asked to make a donation.
Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Joe Ely and Butch Hancock, three country
singer/songwriters who got their start in the early '70s in the Flatlanders,
are billed separately July 31 (along with Jimmy LaFave) and are not
scheduled to play together. But "anything could happen," a SummerStage
spokesperson said. All have had critically acclaimed solo careers, with
albums such as Gilmore's After Awhile (1991) and Ely's Letter
to Laredo (1995).
As part of that dance-music focus, SummerStage will host a workshop,
"DJ Music for Dummies," July 17 at the Arsenal, a New York club.
"I can't say I know the difference between drum & bass and deep house
music, but I could rectify that with 'DJ Music for Dummies'," Henry
Stern, New York City's parks commissioner, said.
Previous SummerStage performers have included such top artists as the
Fugees, Sarah McLachlan, Patti Smith and more cutting-edge and
lesser-known musicians such as Ani DiFranco, Sonic Youth and Los Lobos.
The shows are held at Rumsey Playfield in the middle of Central Park.
Glaser called SummerStage "one of the most beautiful programs we have in
New York City. ... It's around nature, it's free."
A full list of this year's performers and dates is available at
SummerStage's official website, www.summerstage.org.
SummerStage Dates/Performers (Incomplete):
June 12; Ronnie Spector, Tommy James and the Shondells
June 19; Sugar Hill Gang (children's show)
June 20; They Might Be Giants (children's show)
July 1; Joni's Jazz, featuring Chaka Khan; P.M. Dawn; Vernon Reid;
Duncan Sheik; Eric Anderson; Joy Askew; Holly Cole; Jon Hendricks; and
Annie Ross, John Kelly and Jane Siberry (benefit)
July 4; Luscious Jackson, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, DJ Mix Master Mike
July 10; Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown and Gate's Big Band Express
July 17; N'Dea Davenport, Black Star
July 21; Marianne Faithfull
July 22; Brian Setzer Orchestra (benefit)
July 27; Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers (benefit)
July 30; Lyle Lovett and His Large Band, Keb Mo
July 31; Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Joe Ely, Butch Hancock, Jimmy LaFave
August 8; Rahat Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
August 15; Robert Cray Band featuring the Memphis Horns