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Live Music at Lunchtime in Downtown Brooklyn

Ellen Levitt

Posted on August 11, 2019 11:27

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New Yorkers have been treated to free live music concerts at the MetroTech Commons in downtown Brooklyn for 25 years!

During the summer of 2019 we have commemorated many 50th anniversaries: the original Woodstock festival, the Moon Walk, the Mets baseball team's first World Series win, and much more. An overlooked anniversary is the 25th year of the free R&B Festival at MetroTech in downtown Brooklyn. This series of live concerts has covered the roots of rock 'n roll, funk, jazz, reggae, soul music, and other international styles. I have attended dozens of shows over the past several years at this festival, and it's a special treat for people during the summer heat.

Thursdays at noon, the bands and performers take the stage, which is surrounded by many businesses, city agencies, various schools and colleges, and the city and state court buildings. People stroll by during their lunch breaks and travel in to see the shows.

Among the many bands I've seen are Steel Pulse, Bo Diddley, Little Anthony, George Clinton, Ranky Tanky, Amadou and Mariam, and so many others. This past week I watched the Jamaican band Third World play their reggae fusion music, including their signature hits such as "Now That We Found Love" and "96o in the Shade."

Although much of the crowd was in their fifties and sixties (and older), many younger and curious music lovers stopped by for the show. There are not many seats (mostly benches and stoops on the sides) so fans stood or walked by, and some brought their own folding chairs.

The sound mix was very good for the most part, although a few songs were rather bass heavy (and distorted). The vibe was happy and laid back - something that we need during the hot days of August.

The R&B Festival shows have been more than just rhythm and blues over their 25 year span. Bands that blended in country, doo-wop, rock, and much more have been featured. Some were big names years earlier and some are little-known in the US, but that makes the festival lineup all the more interesting. Free shows certainly allow us to check out new music and take a chance on an act. 

I came solo to this Third World show, but in the past I've met friends for lunch here. When my daughters were younger I would bring them here frequently, along with my father, and we would listen (and the kids would dance) to a variety of music.

Sometimes it's the under-the-radar music festivals that have the best offerings and most memorable musical moments. I have particularly fond memories of the Bo Diddley show years back; besides playing his famous songs on his remarkable boxy guitars, he told ribald stories that were very funny. The time I saw George Clinton (dressed rather sedate compared to his wild costumes of the 1980s) he and his band played a fantastic groove, and my friend Mindy heard them for the very first time and was impressed.

Brooklyn loves a party with music and a welcoming vibe. Thanks, MetroTech.

 

 

 

 

Ellen Levitt

Posted on August 11, 2019 11:27

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Source: NYT

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