SCHENECTADY – This summer Music Haven will return in full force, bringing bands from around the globe to Schenectady’s Central Park, including a Ukrainian folk quartet DakhaBrakha and the Finnish septet Frigg.
“This is a comeback season,” said Producing Artistic Director Mona Golub in an interview with The Gazette earlier this month.
The season was canceled in 2020 and there was an abbreviated season last summer, but this time, the series schedule is packed.
“International travel is nowhere near normal right now. So some of the things that I thought might be possible 10 or 12 months ago, aren’t . . . But some very wonderful things have fallen into place,” Golub said. “The caliber is as high if not higher than it’s ever been before.”
The free series kicks off on July 10 with the Grammy Award-winning band Steel Pulse, one of the stalwarts of the reggae genre.
“I do expect that to be a really big, warm way to let everybody know that Music Haven is back and everyone’s welcome,” Golub said.
From there, the series will feature music from Louisiana with Nathan & the Zydeco Cha Chas; then will sample music from New York City with Sammy Miller & the Congregation, followed by the popular Blues BBQ with a performance by Shemekia Copeland. It goes on to feature Canadian music with The Lemon Bucket Orkestra, a self-described “Balkan-Klezmer-Gypsy-Party-Punk-Party-Band.”
DakhaBrakha, which will be playing on Aug. 4, is a Ukrainian folk quartet that combines the musical styles of several ethnic groups. The band performed at Music Haven in 2016, and with the war going on in the country, the series is bringing them back.
“They are on an . . . extended tour as much for safety’s sake as anything else,” Golub said.
“I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to bring them back . . . to be able to try and bust the narrative that Russia sends out about Ukraine not having its own music and culture . . . DakhaBrakha is proof that they do. As much as it may be difficult to be as joyous with them as we were back in 2016 . . . It will be a powerful night,” Golub said.
The evening will also involve Ukrainian organizations and groups in the greater Capital Region.
Soon after that, the Grammy Award-winning Spanish Harlem Orchestra will perform, followed by the return of the Schenectady Symphony Orchestra, which will perform movie classics.
Bluegrass superstars, Steep Canyon Rangers are up next, making their headline debut in the region after performing with Steve Martin and Martin Short at Proctors and at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.
“That’ll be a most dynamic show and bluegrass is not necessarily a genre that we bring in great regularity,” Golub said.
For the last global concert of the season, the series will travel to a place it’s not yet gone to — Finland. Frigg, a band fronted by four fiddlers, will perform traditional Nordic folk music.
In addition to the global concerts, the season includes NipperFest, a festival celebrating the Capital Region’s music scene. It features a strong line-up of bands like The Figgs, Super 400, Sirsy, Girl Blue, Bad Mothers and many more.
Other events include a two-night run of Shakespeare’s “Comedy of Errors” performed by Will Kempe’s Players. There will also be a screening of the Oscar Award-winning music documentary “Summer of Soul.”
Music Haven’s annual summer social event is slated for Aug. 7 and includes a ticketed dinner buffer under the Central Park pavilion with Latin music.
As per tradition, the season includes a robust line-up of special guests, including the traditional Honduran music of Aurelio, the funky New Orleans-style street beats of The Brass Machine, and the jazz-forward SUNY Schenectady School of Music Faculty Jazz Combo. Other guests include Golfstrom, which will be delivering “vintage old-world music,” and old-time banjo phenom Nora Brown will offer up some traditional eastern Kentucky and Tennessee music. Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas will bring their fiddle and cello explorations of Scottish and global music to bear, and the Capital Region’s own Puerto Rican ambassador has assembled a special septet, Alex Torres Y Sus Amigos.
A variety of food and beverages will be available for purchase at all shows, beginning at 6 p.m. on most concert nights. Michele’s Charcoal Pit and Ben & Jerry’s return to Music Haven for all concerts and events in 2022 and international offerings reflecting the locales from which the artists come will be sold at the concession stand. Specialty vendors will be in attendance for the Blues BBQ and “Summer of Soul” events.
Wine and local craft beverages from Wolf Hollow Brewing Company, Frog Alley Brewing
Co. and Nine Pin Cider will be available throughout the season. Druthers craft brew will be poured at the July 17 Nathan & the Zydeco Cha Chas concert.
Proctors is the rain site, though on the following dates shows will be held rain or shine in Central Park: July 10, July 23, July 28, August 4, August 13, August 20 and August 26-27. Please refer to Music Haven’s contact line, 518-660-0675 or facebook.com/Music-Haven-Concert-Series to confirm location after 12 p.m. on show days.
Shows start at 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted and will be held at The Agnes Macdonald Music Haven Stage in Central Park.
Here’s the full schedule:
Sunday, July 10—Steel Pulse
Bonafide reggae revolutionaries whose legacy has always been to better mankind through music, Steel Pulse frames founder David Hind’s righteous vocals in big Caribbean beats. Special guests: Aurelio
Sunday, July 17—Nathan & the Zydeco Cha Chas
A Louisiana Music Hall of Famer at the top of his game, Nathan Williams squeezes out a Zydeco dance party from his accordion wherever he goes, bringing the spice and the spirit.
Special guests: The Brass Machine
Saturday, July 23—NipperFest (11 a.m. – 10 p.m.)
Celebrate the local 518 music scene on two stages with The Figgs, Sirsy, Super 400, Girl Blue, Erin Harkes, Sawyer Fredericks, Sydney Worthley, Reese Fulmer and more! Local food, local craft beer and local nonprofits round out this inaugural event.
Sunday, July 24—Sammy Miller & The Congregation
On a mission to share globally conscious, joyful jazz by honoring and progressing
America’s original musical art form, Miller and company are broadening its reach. Special guest: SUNY Schenectady School of Music Faculty Jazz Combo
Thursday, July 28—Blues BBQ featuring Shemekia Copeland (5-9:30 p.m.)
A powerhouse vocalist whose commanding stage presence and recordings have won worldwide acclaim, Copeland headlines this three-course banquet of the blues. Local ‘Blues Challenge’ heroes Mark & Jill and Matt Mirabile open on stage, as smokin’ BBQ comes off the grill.
Sunday, July 31—Lemon Bucket Orkestra
A groundbreaking, genre-bending phenomenon brimming with charisma and Balkan-Klezmer-Gypsy-Punk Party Band influences, Lemon Bucket Orkestra is utterly irresistible. Special guest: Golfstrom
Thursday, Aug. 4—DakhaBrakha
The ethereal and entrancing vocal roots music of Eastern Europe is airlifted into the 21st century by this impassioned and adventurous Ukrainian ‘ethno-chaos’ quartet.
Sunday, Aug. 7—Spanish Harlem Orchestra
From Puerto Rico via the barrios of NYC comes the three-time Grammy-winning salsa dura and Latin jazz of SHO. Special guest: Alex Torres Y Sus Amigos
Saturday, Aug. 13—Schenectady Symphony Orchestra
Under the baton of Artistic Director Glen Cortese, the SSO returns with “A Night at The Movies” selections from your favorite films, along with some other surprises. Special guest vocalist: Mia Scirocco
Sunday, Aug. 14—Steep Canyon Rangers
A Grammy-winning, Billboard chart-topping sextet that weds its distinctive bluegrass with elements of pop, country and folk-rock. Special guest: Nora Brown
Saturday, Aug. 20— “Summer of Soul”
*Mini-Fest at 5 p.m., Movie at dusk
Questlove’s multi-award-winning music documentary pays homage to the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, capturing the explosion of Black music, art and pride that made history in Mount Morris Park that summer. The festivities begin with soul food, music, art and community.
Sunday, Aug. 21—Frigg
Fronted by four fiddles, this septet of virtuosos from Finland has carved themselves a top-notch in folk with their life-affirming, feel-good tunes and exquisite musicianship. Special guests: Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas
Friday and Saturday, Aug. 26–27—Will Kempe’s Players: “A Comedy of Errors”
Will Kempe’s Players offer up a classic Shakespeare comedy, filled with unexpected role reversals, mistaken identities and enough slapstick humor to entertain from beginning to end. Period music by Duo Marchand