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From Punk Rock to Soul Music: A Saturday in NYC

Ellen Levitt

Posted on August 3, 2019 23:05

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Another summer Saturday, another day of excellent free music outdoors!

Last Saturday I saw excellent musical performances by the Black Pumas, Lee Fields, and The Expressions. The events, which were free, took place outdoors in Manhattan. This Saturday, I saw performances by punk rock bands,a folk music trio, and by a legendary soul music group.

Once again, these concerts were held outdoors in New York City, were free, and were so much fun. This is one of the things I love most about New York City in the summer--so many choices of live outdoor music performances by groups I know and by groups I can take a chance on, for free. The variety and the vitality are key.

First I went to the Tompkins Square Riot Reunion, Day One. I saw a trio of folk (or anti-folk?) guitarists who did a quick tribute to the late David Peel, some minimalist hardcore punk rock performed by the trio Rapid Deployment Force, and watched the quartet The Nihilistics. Sandwiched between the loud, blistering music were speakers who reflected on the original Tompkins Square Park riot of August 6th and 7th, 1988.

Thus, this was not only a showcase for rock 'n roll, but also a historic, political and sociological commemoration. I remember the Tompkins Square Park riot and was at the park just days before and after it galvanized and frightened New Yorkers. I agreed with some of the speakers' sentiments, disagreed with others, and listened to the energetic rock and watched as people younger than I moshed with glee in front of the bands.

That same evening, I went to the Ford Amphitheater at Coney Island to attend a free, Parks Department sponsored concert of soul music. I heard the legendary vocals group The Stylistics sing several of their hits in their ever-smooth harmonious fashion. The crowd was largely made up of people aged fifty and older, but there were younger fans as well. They performed their hits such as "You Make Me Feel Brand New," "You Are Everything," "Break Up to Make Up" and more. There was no outright political message but a general and genial vibe of good times, singing along, and having a good time.

Society today is so full of heartbreak, anger, and insecurity; the news batters us constantly. Listening to live music among an eager audience is a great way to get by and find comfort. The fact that the music reflects various musical genres, is free, and is open to the public makes it even better. 

Summertime in New York City offers several shows where we can sing along, mosh along, dance, and absorb. 

What will next week bring? Hopefully more music and less bad news. 

Ellen Levitt

Posted on August 3, 2019 23:05

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Source: NPR

A sweet mélange of soul, proto-funk, jazz, rock and Latin music that makes for a laid-back, old-school party soundtrack....

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