Blues great James Cotton and two groups making their American debut will headline the 2014 Music Haven Concert Series, it was announced on Monday.
Cotton, known as the “Superharp” from Tunica, Miss., is celebrating his 70th season as an entertainer and will perform Sunday night, July 27, at Central Park in the Music Haven midseason gala. A link to blues greats Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson and Howlin’ Wolf, Cotton will be joined by guest star Matt Mirabile.
The series, which will kick off June 29 at Central Park and conclude on Aug. 10, will have the option of going indoors to Proctors in case of inclement weather. According to Mona Golub, Music Haven’s producing artistic director, the plan is to use either the GE Theater or the Mainstage at Proctors in case of rain.
“That’s the nature of producing concerts in the great outdoors in the Northeast,” Golub said about the weather. “But we’re very lucky to be teaming up with Proctors again, so we will have a glorious rain site for each show in case we need it.”
Kicking off the season on the Agnes Macdonald Music Haven Stage on June 29 will be a performance by Zimbabwe’s Mokoomba, making its very first appearance on U.S. soil. Residents of a small, rural village in Victoria Falls, Mokoomba offers a mix of traditional Tongan rhythms and Afro-Fusion beats. Also performing with the group will be balafon master Famoro Dioubate.
After taking a break for the July 4th weekend, Eileen Ivers will take the stage on July 13. Ivers, a nine-time All-Ireland fiddle champion, has been called “The Jimmy Hendrix of the violin” and “The future of the Celtic fiddle.” An original star of “Riverdance,” she has played with Sting, Hall & Oats, The Chieftains and Patti Smith.
On July 20, Conjunto Chappotin y Sus Estrellas, a big-band group from Cuba, will be making its American premiere with special guest Maria Zemantauski. The group is one of the most popular “Son” bands in Cuba, and features plenty of horns, vocals, congas and bongos.
Following the midseason gala, the series resumes on Aug. 3 with Jeffrey Broussard & The Creole Cowboys, and then concludes the following Sunday, Aug. 10, with a performance by Ghost Train Orchestra playing “chamber jazz” from the 1930s. Colleen Pratt & Friends will also be performing that night.
“It’s been a thrill to bring such incredible concerts to Schenectady for all these years,” said Golub. “This is as strong a season, if not the strongest, that we’ve put together. I am continually gratified by our diverse, multigenerational audiences, who open their ears, hearts and minds to the music, and the magic that results is as much a product of the artistic energy on stage as it is the audience’s respect and enthusiasm for the cultural experience.
All of the concerts are free.