The Incredibly Diverse SummerStage Showcase – January 10

4 Jan

City Parks Foundation Summerstage

The New York City Parks Foundation founded SummerStage in 1986 with the intention of providing genre-bending lineups to New York City’s diverse communities. Since its inception, it has done just that, providing New Yorkers with premium entertainment that has now stretched to more than 100 performances to 18 parks throughout the five boroughs. If you live in the New York area and you have not taken advantage of this program, 2013 is a great year to jump on board. Still not sure. Well, let me do a little convincing.

SummerStage will present the 2013 Showcase on Thu, Jan. 10 at Highline Ballroom. The show will serve up an intriguing appetizer of the upcoming 2013 season of SummerStage. Tickets are $25 in advance/$30 at the door. The doors open at 6 p.m. and the jam-packed concert begins at 6:30 p.m. For more information visit http://highlineballroom.com or SummerStage’s website (link above).

The concert will feature R&B legend Shuggie Otis, Pop/Rock group People Get Ready, enigmatic soul singer/producer Ofei, Kosher Gospel singer Joshua Nelson and Hip/Hop pioneer DJ Kool Herc. R&B/Pop/Rock/Soul/Gospel/Hip-Hop. If that’s not a true musical amalgamation, I don’t know what is. Let’s delve a little deeper into these artists.

Shuggie Otis

Shuggie, the son of the godfather of R&B Johnny Otis (who passed away last year), is an incredibly talented musician whose indelible impact on music influenced all artists he came in contact with including future generations of musicians (Prince, for example). He is an musician’s musician, one who is touted by his peers but not often recognized by the fans. Part of this is due to his reclusiveness. But 2013 will see Otis tour again, and he will grace the Highline Ballroom stage in what is a much-anticipated performance. Otis is perhaps best known for writing “Strawberry Letter #23,” a big R&B/Funk hit for the Brothers Johnson in 1977. As the son of Johnny Otis, Shuggie balanced his tremendous knowledge of jazz, blues, and early R&B, with his love for the music of his contemporaries (Jimi Hendrix, Sly Stone), and he brewed these diverse influences into his music. He is a multi-instrumentalist, but his main tool is the guitar, which he excels in.

People Get Ready

People Get Ready is a Brooklyn-based foursome formed by Steven Reker and Luke Fasano in 2009. Reker and Fasano met at the Austin City Limits Music Festival. Reker was dancing and playing guitar on David Byrne’s 2008-2009 world tour and Fasano was playing percussion with his then-band Yeasayer. They joined forces in an effort to bring together performance art and music. Jen Goma (A Sunny Day In Glasgow) and James Rickman (Slow Gherkin) joined in the summer of 2010. The band’s effervescent music is marked with solid harmonies and Vampire Weekend-esque guitar riffs, and this matches there bubbly style on stage.

Ofei

All people really know about Ofei is that which his music describes, and this abstruse London musician would like to keep it this way. His music, though, says a lot, and the UK music scene is certainly enjoying it. “London” features Ofei’s soul-saturated voice mixed with processed vocals over a fresh piano riff. The combination (with video) creates an esoteric piece that is oddly infectious.

Joshua Nelson

Joshua Nelson creates an elegant mixture of Jewish religious lyrics with American Gospel sounds. These ingredients, combined with his extraordinary, passionate vocal, form a deeply religious sound that oozes with ardor and excitement – ‘Kosher Gospel’.  I urge you to read his biography. His story is fascinating. As a boy, he attended synagogue with his family, observant Jews who trace their lineage back to Senegal.

DJ Kool Herc

Before there was “Rapper’s Delight” and artists like Grandmaster Flash, there were individuals pioneering the genre of music that would become known as Hip/Hop. In 1972, DJ Kool Herc, a Jamaican-born American DJ, introduced what he called ‘the merry-go-round’ into his sets. Listen to him describe it below:

Utter genius. By focusing on the breaks, DJ Kool Herc gave dancers a constant flow of percussion. The foundation of Hip/Hop. As he performed, he would speak to his crowd of dancers in slang rhymes like “B-boys, b-girls, are you ready? keep on rock steady” and “This is the joint! Herc beat on the point” “To the beat, y’all!” “You don’t stop.” The b-boys and girls were dancers in his breaks. ‘Breaking’ at the time was slang for getting excited. Breakdancing (term was coined by media in the 80s.)

DJ Kool Herc is legendary, and you can see him live!

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