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Ethiopian Funk and Brazilian Party Music to Heat Up Madison Square Park

 Madison Square Park's free outdoor concert series is kicking off on June 18.
Madison Square Park Oval Lawn Series 2014
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FLATIRON — Madison Square Park’s free outdoor concert series is kicking off next week, featuring Ethiopian funk and Brazilian dance music for the first time.

This year’s Oval Lawn Series, which will run every Wednesday from June 18 to Aug. 6, showcases a wide variety of genres including funk, indie pop, Americana, world and party music.

“This is going to be an exciting and eclectic season,” said Ashley Hughes, director of programs for the Madison Square Park Conservancy. “We’re having some artists that people have appreciated year after year and also some new artists and genres.”

The season will launch with a performance by indie pop singer Nicole Atkins, a New Jersey native, at 7 p.m. on June 18.

For the first time, the roster also includes Forro in the Dark, a Brazilian band playing party music from Brazil’s northeastern states, and the Debo Band, which plays a mixture of Ethiopian pop and American and Ethiopian funk and soul. The bands will play on July 30 beginning at 6 p.m.

“We have the same number of shows this year, but we have a few more with double bills,” Hughes said.

Other artists include The Steeldrivers, John Fullbright and Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds.

Shows begin at 6 or 7 p.m. and end by 8:30 p.m. The Calexico food truck will be stationed at the park during the concerts, serving tacos, burritos and rolled quesadillas, Hughes said.

Also this summer, Madison Square Park will host kids' concerts on Tuesdays and Thursdays beginning at 10:30 a.m., now through Aug. 7.

New artists in the lineup for the Mad. Sq. Kids Summer Concert series include a reggae band called Josh and the Jamtones playing on June 12; Walter Martin, a former member of The Walkmen, who will be releasing his family-friendly music for the first time on July 3; and Grammy-winning The Okee Dokee Brothers, playing on Aug. 5.

“Mad. Sq. Kids showcases a unique performance roster with music virtuosity, witty lyrics and energetic tunes, which parents will want to sing along to as much as their children,” the Madison Square Park Conservancy said in a statement.

The morning and evening concert series will happen rain or shine and visitors are encouraged to bring along a blanket and a picnic, but no chairs are allowed, Hughes said.