Wednesday, August 20, was a cool summer evening and proved to be the perfect night for an outdoor concert. What was even cooler was the diverse crowd that vibed all night to the different types of music.
Lincoln Center Out of Doors, which celebrates its 38th annual edition of the summer festival, brings a various range of genres and artists to the stage. The performances vary from dance, to music to family events for three weeks in August and it’s all FREE! The concert was broadcasted by WFMU, the free-form New Jersey radio station, at Damrosch Park in New York live.
“I enjoyed the performance and the energy of the crowd.” -Billen
As the show time grew close, the seats at Lincoln Center’s Damrosch Park filled up quickly. The four hour concert began promptly at 6:00 p.m. with Extra Golden taking the stage. One of the songs they performed was the Obama song. They dedicated this song to “…those who helped the band in the past including Barack Obama.” Extra Golden puts together a unique mix of Kenyan Benga music with American Rock. Their new album is called Hera Ma Nono on Thrill Jockey records.
Next, the very funky Alemayehu Eshete took the stage performing with the Boston jazz group Either/Orchestra. Dressed in a dark gray colored suit, Alemayehu appeared to feel right at home on stage as he flashed big smiles. When he sang Addis Ababa, people jumped waving their hands in the air, his eclectic voice moving them.
Mahmoud Ahmed, who was dressed in complete Ethiopian cultural attire, also performed with Either/Orchestra. His smooth and rich voice sent audience members as close to the stage as they could get while others stood up and began dancing in the small rows, often hitting the chairs behind them.
Afterwards, The Ex with Jazz Saxophonist Getachew Mekurya came on stage to perform. The vibrant melody filled the air and as they played, people danced and moved to the beat. The Ex and Getachew finished things off on the right tune! Getachew is known for being amongst the first musicians to play an instrumental version of the Ethiopian war chant Shellela and he remains its most revered saxophonist.
When asked how they heard about the concert and what they enjoyed most about it, some audience members answered that they heard about the concert through word-of-mouth and some cited the free admission as what they enjoyed the most. “I loved the beautiful music,” said Andy from Jersey City. Both Wolf and Meg, from Montclair, agreed that it was “great to see these legends.” Bezy, who hails from Queens, said she heard about the concert from an email that was forwarded to her. For Bezy, Mahmoud Ahmed took the show. “I am a big fan of Mahmoud,” she said. Billen and Haleta both heard about the concert through word-of-mouth. “I enjoyed the performance and the energy of the crowd,” said Billen, who is originally from Chicago. Haleta, who is from Los Angeles and attends school in Manhattan, was surprised at the “large number of Ethiopians that are from New York.”
Whether or not you came because the concert was free, there is no denying that you left the performance with a sense of togetherness. At the end, it was easy to see that this Lincoln Center Out of Doors performance struck a chord with audience members from all walks of life. You don’t have to be from Kenya to vibe with Extra Golden and you don’t have to be Ethiopian to enjoy the rich sounds of Mahmoud Ahmed and to exercise your right to vibe!
For more information on Lincoln Center visit www.lincolncenter.org.