Summer Brings Tons of Free Music to NYC
NEW YORK CITY — The streets may be smellier and the subway commute sweatier, but at least there are tons of free concerts to choose from this summer.
DNAinfo New York has gathered a list of musical freebies — from punk rock in Staten Island to hip-hop's original DJ in The Bronx — going on in New York City from June through August.
► June 15: '60s British invasion band The Zombies broke up just before their masterpiece Odessey and Oracle was released in 1968. The album sold poorly until "Time of the Season" was released and became a big hit in 1969.
The band has since reunited and their beautiful harmonizing and the warm, psychedelic sound of their later work is a perfect match for the summer.
Also playing: Calexico brings their "desert noir" sound to the Prospect Park Bandshell starting at 7:30 p.m. with Susana Baca, Radio Jarocho and Akoko Nante Ensemble. If you're unfamiliar with Calexico, think traditional Latin and southwestern music mixed with a dark, haunting sound — like if David Lynch directed a Western.
► June 16: New York City-based, politically radical rappers Dead Prez challenge hip-hop materialism with lyrics like, "You rather have a Lexus or justice?/A dream or some substance?" MC's Stic.man and M-1 are also activists promoting causes like healthy eating.
They are playing Brooklyn's Herbert Von King Park in Bedford-Stuyvesant starting at 7 p.m.
► June 22: The free ferry ride from Lower Manhattan to Staten Island is a popular summer tourist excursion, but Staten Island's all-day Punk Island festival is a reason to get off the boat and check out the city's oft-overlooked borough.
► June 24: Yasiin Bey — the Brooklyn artist formally known as Mos Def — is considered one of the best lyricists of his generation. Discover why when he plays a free show as part of the Blue Note Jazz Festival in Central Park at the Rumsey Playfield at 7 p.m.
► July 6: Brooklyn-by-way-of-Trinidad artist Theophilus London is not easy to classify, with a sound influenced by R&B, hip hop, soul, post-punk and electronic music. Luckily, he's playing a free show at the Prospect Park Bandshell at 7 p.m., so you can see what all the fuss is about.
► July 10: Kool Herc is a true hip-hop pioneer, having literally created the art of mixing two records together and looping a song's "break," which laid the groundwork for rapping and break-dancing.
He is performing in the borough that started it all, The Bronx, in Crotona Park, at the corner of Claremont Parkway and Crotona Avenue starting at 7 p.m.
Also playing: Legendary '60s and '70s studio musician Leon Russell, who played with the likes of George Harrison, Joe Cocker and The Rolling Stones, was recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Russell, a skilled guitar and piano player, makes music that spans genres and includes rock, country and blues. Check him out at Battery Park City's Rockefeller Park in lower Manhattan at 7 p.m.
► July 30: The music of East Africa comes to Greenwich Village with guitarist-bassist and Rwandan civil war survivor Nepo Soteri playing a free show in Washington Square Park at 8 p.m.
► August 2: Jamie Lidell's electronic R&B is a little reminiscent of late-'70s/early-'80s Bowie. His latest self-titled album came out in February. He's playing with Baltimore electronic musician Dan Deacon, who is known for his live shows. Deacon recently released a smartphone app that turns the crowd into its own light show.
Get your dancing shoes on and check them out at the Prospect Park Bandshell starting at 7:30 p.m.
► August 8: Titus Andronicus are an epic, literary-minded New Jersey punk band. Their intense live shows are not to be missed. They'll be playing a free show on the Hudson River at Pier 84, with their home state in the background.
► August 11: Shuggie Otis has received some much-deserved props of late after the release of cult classic 1974 album "Inspiration Information" alongside unreleased tracks recorded between 1975 and 2000 on "Wings of Love." His ethereal funk sound is perfect for a lazy summer day.
► August 23-25: The Charlie Parker Jazz Festival is coming to both Harlem and the East Village at the end of summer. The festival, which is taking place in Marcus Garvey and Tompkins parks, features Jimmy Heath, Kenny Garrett, Jaleel Shaw and the Lee Konitz Quartet.