Rain and lightning in Schenectady’s Central Park — mostly lightning — canceled Sunday night’s performance by Vieux Farka Touré.
Touré, a Malian singer and guitarist, had been booked as the opening show for this summer’s Music Haven Concert Series. Five other shows in the free series will be held in the park through mid-August.
Sunday’s show actually did start on time at 7, with series artistic director Mona Golub greeting about 100 music lovers who had brought umbrellas and rain jackets with a “You are fearless!” salute. Concert guest Zorkie Nelson led an open drum circle, and drummed with 11 members of the audience who took seats on stage.
There had been heavy rain and thunder earlier in the day, with one shower beginning just an hour before show time. But with gray clouds moving in and flashes of lightning seen in the sky, Golub announced at 7:20 p.m. the show would stop for 15 minutes while weather assessments were made. “I apologize, but it’s for everyone’s safety,” she said.
At 7:35, and just after a bolt of lightning was seen in the sky, Golub announced the concert had been canceled. She said she hoped to bring Touré, who is currently on tour, back to the Music Haven stage in the future. There was no back-up venue for the concert.
People were disappointed, but seemed to understand the decision. “We were looking forward to hearing him,” said Albany’s Anna Kelly of the musician who has been described as the “Hendrix of the Sahara.”
“It was going to be fantastic,” added Marte Carey of Delmar. “It’s too bad.”
The earlier rain had not been a concern for some concert fans. Bob Resnick and partner Joanna Palladino of Albany were the first to arrive at Music Haven at 6:20 p.m. “We liked the idea of seeing international music performed by folks we don’t always hear on the radio but we know provide good-quality music,” Resnick said.
Bob Saltzman of Niskayuna counted on clearing skies he saw as he left home. “Even a little bit of rain doesn’t diminish concerts here,” Saltzman said. “Sometimes they take place under umbrellas. Sometimes people are invited up on stage.”
Donna Dolan of Albany sat under an umbrella with friend John Schumacher. “We’re sort of prepared, but we don’t have ponchos,” said Dolan.
Rain was not a major concern for her, either. “This concert series is the best in the area in terms of the quality of the music,” she said.
Thunderstorms aren’t going away, according to forecasters at the National Weather Service in Albany.
“There will probably be, at the very least, scattered showers and thunderstorms once again,” said meteorologist Hugh Johnson of today’s weather. “It’s hard to pinpoint when and where, but usually the afternoon and evening are the best times for these.”
People in the Capital Region are also going be stuck with humid conditions.
“It’s going to be humid, that’s not going to change,” Johnson said. “Tuesday might be a smidgen less humid, but it will still be very warm to hot.”
Music Haven’s series will continue this coming Sunday with Lorraine Klaasen and African Connexion. The show will begin at 7 p.m.