The 2017 Meadows Music Fest was full of nostalgia, rap and surprises. It didn’t hurt that the weather was perfect too (almost too hot even) for September. And it helped that the festival was super easy to get around, with four stages arranged facing out in a semi-circle arrangement and super close to mass transit. Unfortunately, one of the acts I wanted to see most, Swet Shop Boys, had pulled out of the festival in the weeks leading up to it. But I had a genuinely good time at the Meadows and hope to see it return.
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This year’s Global Citizen Festival still acknowledged extreme poverty and its goal to reduce the number of people living under such conditions. However, the festival has made poverty less of the focus and instead addressed many more of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (of which eradicating extreme poverty is the first of eight), including women’s rights (gender equality) and global partnership for development, plus other issues like sanitation, vaccination and the environment.
The 3rd Annual Emerging Music Festival took place in collaboration with Paste Magazine, who were livestreaming the show. With the first day of the two day fest nearly rained out (a set or two was spared from the deluge), the EMF was aided by terrific weather on the second day which drew a lot of people to Bryant Park‘s lawn for the music, food and activities, like hula hooping, juggling, and bubble blowing.
Deer Tick can be found practically everywhere during Newport Folk Festival. Beyond a guest appearance on the main stage, the group had four after parties during a three-day music festival. No one can suggest they take it too easy. The same may be said about their time in the studio too. On September 15th, Deer Tick will release two entirely different albums (on Partisan) dubbed Vol 1. and Vol 2.. The first is an acoustic disc. The second is rock.
Rhiannon Giddens began her Freedom Highway tour at a surprising place. Sing Sing prison in New York. There, she addressed the inmates (and the NY Times reporter) and performed songs from the new album, describing the prison as “perfect for what this album is about and the sort of social consciousness and activism that surrounds this record.” The album highlights Giddens’ earthy-roots music and her original, often political lyrics (her previous solo album post-Carolina Chocolate Drops was a covers record). She doesn’t shy away from issues political, historical or contemporary, racial or social.
As Giddens tour continued, she arrived at somewhere a bit more glamorous, Lincoln Center, for the final show of the 2017 American Songbook series. She had performed in the series twice in the past few years, and this was her biggest show at Lincoln Center yet, in front of a sold-out crowd at Alice Tully Hall. Her backing band included multi-instrumentalists Dirk Powell and Hubby Jenkins, Jason Sypher on bass and Jamie Dick on drums, as well as her sister Lalenja Harrington providing back-up vocals and her nephew Justin Harrington rapping a song near the end of the powerful show. As Billboard noted, “Giddens’ vocals—which reveal her extensive operatic training—were front-and-center on such show highlights as Aretha Franklin’s “Do Right Woman” and Patsy Cline’s “She’s Got You,” which gave the originals a run for their money; and the Mack Gordon-written “Underneath the Harlem Moon,” which Ethel Waters recorded in the 1930s. “There’s a lot of good stuff to be found,” Giddens said of the last song. “It makes all the digging worthwhile.” Photos from Giddens performance, as well as upcoming tour dates, are below.