The first-ever Prospect Heights Music Festival will kick off Wednesday with more than 30 local bands and artists — many of them from the immediate neighborhood — playing over five days at The Way Station and Branded Saloon. The popular area bars, whose owners joined forces to organize the event, are known for live music acts.
“Within a two-block radius of my bar, there are probably 10 or 15 bands or artists,” said Andy Heidel, 45, owner of The Way Station, whose own bartender will be performing at the festival with his band, The Jacks of Kings County. “My goal has always been to find new fans for musicians.”
The festival will be “eclectic,” Heidel said, with a focus on Americana and folk music. All of the performers are based in New York, with a majority from Brooklyn, including rockabilly band The Bloodshots, hybrid jazz and classical act Arun Ramamurthy Trio, and Zamba 2 Samba, a Brazilian samba band that did monthly samba nights at Branded Saloon for two years, according to Branded’s owner, Gerard Kouwenhoven, 39, who will be playing at the festival with his own band, Dolly Trolly.
Though music is the focus of the event, he said, it's really about getting people to think of Prospect Heights as a destination neighborhood.
“We’re suggesting to people that want to come to Prospect Heights for the festival, a whole night out, a whole package,” Kouwenhoven said. “Start out at the Branded Saloon and catch our 8 o’clock Ruby Rae show and then grab dinner at the Vanderbilt after. And on your way to The Way Station, stop in at Ample Hills and get some ice cream.”
Heidel agreed, saying the festival’s goal extends beyond the two bars.
“It’s not about bringing more people to my bar or to Gerard’s bar, but to introduce people from all over the city to everything Prospect Heights has to offer,” he said.
The Prospect Heights Music Festival will take place from Wednesday, July 9, to Sunday, July 13. Admission to the event is free with a suggested donation of $5, though Kouwenhoven said “it’s a pass-the-hat kind of thing." For a complete lineup of performers, show times and locations, visit The Way Station’s website.