It's that time again when the music moves from inside to outdoors, and after two years of shutdowns and half-full lineups, everything feels back in full swing this summer. It's about f*cking time! Following is a rundown of some of the highlights.
BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn (June 8-August 6) The best (mostly) free fest in NYC opens at the Lena Horne Bandshell tonight (6/8) with jazz fusion star Kamasi Washington and his outsized band. Other highlights include the magical singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers (6/14-15), Kronos Quartet and Roomful of Teeth (7/14), and neo-soul legend Erykah Badu (8/5). (Note: both Phoebe Bridgers and Erykah Badu are ticketed benefit concerts.)
SummerStage (June 11-August 31) Central Park's Rumsey Playfield opens this weekend (6/11) with a free show by the legendary Herbie Hancock with trumpeter Keyon Harrold. Other (mostly paid) highlights include a New Orleans blowout led by Trombone Shorty (6/13), George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic (6/15), Belle and Sebastian (6/16), Sons of Kemet with Makaya McCraven (7/31 - free), and a two night stand with Sharon Van Etten, Angel Olsen and Julien Baker (8/20-21).
Brooklyn International Music Fest (June 10-11) This two day festival at Red Hook's Jalopy Theatre highlights the rich and vibrant diaspora of musicians living and working in NYC, from Africa to China and everywhere in between. Tickets and info here.
NY Phil Concerts in the Parks (June 14-19) The Phil's annual parks concerts return after a two-year absence to each of the five boroughs with a program of Wagner, Bruch and Dvořák - along with music by a pair of Very Young Composers - led by Music Director Jaap van Zweden. Followed by fireworks.
Brooklyn Americana Music Festival (June 24-26) American folk and bluegrass music gets its due at this three day festival, with a Friday ticketed show at Jalopy and free outdoor stages in DUMBO and Brooklyn Bridge Park over the weekend.
Lincoln Center's Summer for the City (May 14-Aug 14) Expanding on the longtime Lincoln Center Out of Doors series, LC has plopped a giant disco ball above the Josie Robertson Plaza and renamed it "The Oasis" for the summer. Events, which will be split between there and the festival's traditional home at Damrosch Park, include an orchestral tribute to the Notorious B.I.G. (6/10) a New Orleans-style second line from Jazz at Lincoln Center (6/11) and free performances by the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra (which is also testing out Choose-what-you-pay pricing for its indoor concerts).
DUMBO Live at the Archway (June 9-Sept 1) Every Thursday from 6-8p, catch some free live music in the archway underneath the Manhattan Bridge. With a DUMBO artist in a pop up show and a cash bar from Sixpoint.
Carnegie Hall Citywide (July 1-Sept 23) While the big auditorium on 57th Street shuts down next week for the summer, Carnegie will bring its sounds to the parks and squares of NYC. Highlights include the Attacca Quartet (7/13, 20, and 27), the Squirrel Nut Zippers (7/15), and The Hot Sardines featuring Nellie McKay (7/29).
Make Music New York (June 21) The annual celebration of the summer solstice returns with outdoor performances all over the city, including an all-day celebration of French music in Battery Park, music performed underneath the Apollo Theater marquee, and "1,000 Drums Crying for Peace" at Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem.
River to River Festival (June 12-26) The musical highlight of this year's River to River fest is Craig Harris' BREATHE,(6/25), created in response to the Black Lives Matter movement and the murders of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, George Floyd, and others.
River and Blues Series (July 7-28) Back in Battery Park City, this free weekly series offers the best in Blues, Soul and Americana along the Hudson River, with glorious sunsets in the background. Featuring Nicole Atkins (7/7), Eljuri and Cha Wa (7/14), Lady Wray (7/21) and Cedric Burnside with Maggie Rose (7/28).
Forest Hills Stadium (May 14-October 21) They may not play tennis there anymore, but this century-old stadium offers one of NYC's most atmospheric spaces for outdoor music. Highlights include The Lumineers (6/17-18), Norah Jones and Regina Spektor (8/4), Fleet Foxes (8/13), Odesza with Sylvan Esso (8/26-27) and Death Cab for Cutie with Low (9/30).
Pier 17 Summer Concert Series (June 6-Sept 30) Hard to beat the views from this stage at the South Street Seaport overlooking the Brooklyn Bridge. Highlights include The Cult with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and Zola Jesus (7/20), Andrew Bird and Iron & Wine (7/29) and Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit (9/1-2)
Death of Classical's The Angel's Share (June 14-October 6) Andrew Oursley's celebration of the macabre continues throughout the summer at Green-Wood Cemetery with performances in a real catacombs (not for the claustrophobic.) Highlights include Sarah Kirkland Snider's Mass for the Endangered (6/14-16), countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo performing a new multimedia work by Aaron Siegel (7/21), and a performance of Mahler's 9th Symphony for piano four hands (8/4-6).
Charlie Parker Jazz Festival (August 26-28) The swinging free jazz fest returns in its 30th edition with a stellar lineup including Jazzmeia Horn, Terence Blanchard, Buster Williams, and a blowout closing event in Tompkins Square Park with Bria Skonberg, Melissa Aldana, Archie Shepp, Jason Moran, and Cecile McClorin Salvant.