Music Haven is set to return to Central Park in July, with a summer of concerts that’ll take listeners around the globe, including performances by Ghanaian artist Rocky Dawuni, Gambian singer Sona Jobarteh, Indonesian pianist Joey Alexander and many others.
“This summer, our musical journeys will cross seven distinct bodies of water—The Atlantic and Indian Oceans; the Alboran, Black, Mediterranean, and Arabian Seas; and the Bay of Bengal,” said Producing Artistic Director Mona Golub.
“We’ll gather to hear spectacular global artists who have not played these parts before, welcome back some old friends who have dazzled the world since they last graced our stage and showcase, as special guests, some of the finest talent our region has to offer,” Golub added.
The series opens on Sunday, July 9 with Dawuni, an international artist and a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for the Environment for Africa, who will bring the sounds of Ghanaian reggae to the stage. Schenectady artists Zorkie Nelson & Umoja Drummers will join.
Music Haven continues through Aug. 26, with debut Central Park performances from a number of artists, Jobarteh among them.
The Gambian singer, educator and activist is the first professional female Kora virtuoso to hail from the West African Griot dynasties. Her music may be familiar to Capital Region listeners since she’s previously performed at Proctors as part of the Passport Series, which Golub organizes. Since that 2018 show, Jobarteh’s work has become more popular and the artist was featured on “60 Minutes.”
“I always knew I wanted to bring her back into this town because I felt she deserved to be heard by more people and this opportunity presented itself. So I’m thrilled that there will be a whole new generation of listeners this time around to appreciate the trailblazer that she is both musically and otherwise,” Golub said.
Other series debuts include La Banda Morisca, a spirited sextet from Southern Spain that pays homage to its Al-Andalus cultural heritage while mixing in sonic accents from north Africa’s Maghreb Desert and the Middle East. Aditya Prakash, known for his South Indian Karnatik singing, will make his debut with an ensemble that mixes jazz and funk influences.
“It’s an amazing, amazing cross-section of sounds and cultures coming together,” Golub said of Prakash’s work.
Indonesian jazz pianist Joey Alexander will return to Music Haven on July 18. Alexander first played there in 2015 and has since returned to the area to perform at the Jazz Festival at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center and the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall.
Eileen Ivers, a Celtic/American fiddle legend and the original star of “Riverdance” will return to Schenectady on Aug. 6, sharing a bill with The McKrells.
Another highlight of the season is the Blues BBQ evening on July 30, featuring three national touring acts: Vanessa Collier, Jumpin’ Johnny Sansone and Jontavious Willis. Collier, who was named the 2023 Blues Music Awards Contemporary Blues Female Artist of the Year, brings her gritty vocals and saxophone style to the stage. The evening will feature BBQ dishes.
NipperFest makes its way back to Music Haven on Saturday, July 22, celebrating the local music scene with performances by Jocelyn & Chris among other bands. The festival is presented by Nippertown.com and will include an artist pavilion, food trucks and craft beer.
At each show, food from Michele’s Charcoal Pit and Ben & Jerry’s will be available. There will also be an expanded selection of international dishes and beverages, reflecting the locales from which the global artists come. Wine and craft beverages from Frog Alley Brewing Co., Wolf Hollow Brewing Company, Druthers and Nine Pin Cider will be available throughout the season.
Proctors is the rain site for concerts on July 9 – July 23 and Aug. 20, with Niskayuna High School serving as the rain site July 30–Aug. 13. Shows scheduled on Aug. 11, 25 and 26, will take place in the park rain or shine. Attendees can visit facebook.com/Music-Haven-Concert-Series to confirm the location after noon on show days.
Here’s the full schedule:
Showtimes are 7 p.m. Sundays unless otherwise noted.
July 9—Rocky Dawuni
Dawuni will be joined by Zorkie Nelson & Umoja Drummers.
7 p.m. Thursday, July 13—La Banda Morisca
Special guest Maria Zemantauski will join this spirited sextet.
July 16—Joey Alexander
The show will also include a performance by Joe Barna & Sketches of Influence.
11 a.m.–10 p.m. Saturday, July 22—NipperFest Music & Arts Festival
For the line-up visit Nippertown.com
July 23—Sona Jobarteh
Jobarteh will be joined by special guest Heard.
5–9 p.m. Sunday, July 30—Blues BBQ featuring Vanessa Collier
Johnny Sansone and Jontavious Willis
The 2023 Blues Music Awards Contemporary Blues Female Artist of the Year, Collier joins New Orleans multi-instrumentalist Sansone and Taj Mahal protégé Willis for this triple bill show.
7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 5—Schenectady-Saratoga Symphony Orchestra
The SSSO returns with “Legends of Broadway,” selections from beloved musicals including “West Side Story,” “Les Miserables,” “Evita,” “Jesus Christ Superstar” and more. Special guest vocalists include Amy Decker and Casey Gray.
Aug. 6—Eileen Ivers
The original star of “Riverdance” and a nine-time All-Ireland Fiddle Champion, Ivers will be joined by The McKrells.
5–9 p.m. Friday, Aug. 11— “In the Heights”
A screening of the popular film “In the Heights” as well as a block party with Latin food and music by Taina Asili preceding the screening.
Aug. 13—Aditya Prakash Ensemble
Prakash will be joined by the SUNY Schenectady Jazz Faculty Combo.
Aug. 20—Cedric Watson & Bijou Creole
An emerging force in the Cajun, Creole and Zydeco genres, Watson is a four-time Grammy-nominated fiddler, singer, accordionist and songwriter. Watson will be joined by Old-Fashioned Aces.
7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Aug. 25–26—Will Kempe’s Players
The troupe will present “The Taming of the Shrew” on Friday and “Two Gentlemen of Verona” on Saturday. Period music will be performed by Andy Rutherford on lute and Yvonne Hansbrough on flute.