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New York's Best Concerts to End Summer on the Right Note

By Nigel Chiwaya | August 16, 2012 6:57am

NEW YORK CITY — The show's not over yet.

Summer may be winding down, but that does not mean that the fat lady has sung for the city's outdoor concert series. There are dozens of free shows scheduled around the Big Apple during the rest of August, featuring several genres of music from jazz to reggae to Afropunk.

Aug. 16
Jazz Thursday in Forest Hills
Jazz Thursday is the annual summer concert series held on 70th Road between Queens Boulevard and Austin Street in Forest Hills, Queens. The Aug. 16 concert is the final show of the summer, and the series will wrap with a performance by L.A. Blacksmith and Jazz Plus. Blacksmith, a saxophonist, has toured with Whitney Houston, the Crown Heights Affair and Najee.

Aug. 17-26
Charlie Parker Jazz Festival at various venues

Jazz music will be everywhere during the next two weeks, as the Central Park's SummerStage holds its annual Charlie Parker Jazz Festival. The festival, celebrating its 20th year, starts a week earlier this year, as the Sugar Hill Quartet will perform a tribute to Parker on Aug. 17 at the Whole Foods Market at 808 Columbus Ave.

"There's a lot of great jazz in the next week and a half," said Erikia Eliott, Summer Stage's artistic director. In particular, Eliott noted the Aug. 24 performance at Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem, which will feature a reimagining of Parker's 1950 record, "Charlie Parker with Strings."

Aug. 18
Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, Antibalas at Williamsburg Park, 5 p.m.

Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, a Brooklyn-based funk/soul band, has been performing since 1996 and have been featured on the "Tonight Show with Jay Leno", "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" and the "Late Show with David Letterman."

Antibalas, also based in Brooklyn, is an Afrobeat band that gained great acclaim when it was featured in the Broadway musical "Fela!"

MyFreeConcert.com speaks highly of the bands, calling both groups "excellent" and saying: "We recommend this one, having seen them and being blown away."

Aug. 19
Jamaica's 50th Independence Day at Central Park, 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Summer Stage closes out its Central Park performances with a reggae festival to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Jamaica's independence. The show will feature performances by Grammy-award winning reggae band Inner Circle, along with Israel Vibrations, The Mighty Diamonds and DJ Carter Van Pelt.

"I just always find that reggae music, especially for a summer festival, is kind of perfect," Eliott said.

Aug. 22
DJ Premier vs. Pete Rock at East River Park, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

This concert, part of the 20th anniversary of the hip-hop showcase Lyricist Lounge, features a turntable battle between two legendary DJs.

Christopher Martin, known by his stage name DJ Premier, is one of hip-hop's most prominent producers, and Rolling Stone called him "hip-hop’s greatest producer of all time.” DJ Premier worked behind the scenes of several seminal rap albums, such as Nas' "Illmatic", Jay-Z's "Reasonable Doubt" and Notorious B.I.G.'s "Ready to Die."

Pete Rock has had a career just as acclaimed as DJ Premier's. He also helped produce "Illmatic", as well as Jay-Z and Kanye West's "Watch the Throne" and Heavy D's "Peaceful Journey." About.com lists Pete Rock as the third on a list of the 50 greatest hip-hop producers.

Aug. 23
Two Boots 25th Anniversary Concert at East River Park, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Two Boots, the pizza chain that Eliott calls "a Lower East Side institution," is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. As part of the celebration, the pizzeria has been sponsoring festivals and concerts all summer long. The final such concert features the African pop band Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars and the Pennsylvania folk band The Whiskeyhickon Boys, scheduled to take place on Aug. 23 at the East River Park.

Aug. 25-26
AfroPunk Festival at Commodore Barry Park

Last year's AfroPunk festival was canceled due to Hurricane Irene, but the festival is back for its eighth year this month. Erykah Badu headlines the two-day festival, which features performances by Janelle Monae, Toshi Reagon, Ninjasonik and Gym Class Heroes, among others.

Aug. 27
Gym Class Heroes at MLB Fan Cave, noon

Gym Class Heroes first burst onto the music scene in 2005 with the single "Cupid's Chokehold/Breakfast in America." Since then, the band has released released four albums and received an MTV video music award for best new artist in 2007.

They'll be performing a free show at the MLB Fan Cave on Broadway and 4th Street as part of Major League Baseball's Fan Cave concert series.