Mad. Sq. Music: Oval Lawn Series 2012


Celebrating Mad. Sq. Music: Oval Lawn Series 10-Year Anniversary

Free Outdoor Concerts on Wednesday Evenings from June 20 to August 8

Madison Square Park Conservancy announces the lineup for its ten-year anniversary of Mad. Sq. Music: Oval Lawn Series, which presents award-winning performers in an eclectic range of genres, including folk, bluegrass, Soul/R&B, Americana and jazz. Set against the magnificent backdrop of historic Madison Square Park, the Oval Lawn Series is an enjoyable and relaxing way to hear live music by some of the most acclaimed and respected artists on the national scene.

Concerts take place rain or shine, each Wednesday from June 20 to August 8 (see below for exact show times). In celebration of the Oval Lawn Series 10-year anniversary, an exceptional afternoon-long performance will take place on July 4 at 3pm. All shows are appropriate for the whole family, and visitors are encouraged to bring a blanket and a picnic (no chairs allowed). Concertgoers can enjoy food offerings from acclaimed chef Zakary Pelaccio and his team at Fatty Crew (Fatty Crab, Fatty Cue and Fatty Snack) throughout the season. The Park is located at 23rd Street between Madison and Fifth Avenues.

The 2012 Lineup:

June 20 James Maddock and Band

June 27 Gretchen Parlato / Gregory Porter

July 4 Noam Pikelny and Friends / The Sweetback Sisters / Spuyten Duyvil

July 11 Nellie McKay

July 18 Jeff “Tain” Watts Quartet

July 25 Regina Carter’s “Reverse Thread”

August 1 An evening with Suzzy and Maggie Roche, Sloan Wainwright and Lucy Wainwright Roche

August 8 Bettye LaVette

More artist information below. Thanks to Mad. Sq. Music: Oval Lawn Series sponsors: Kew Management, Zwicker Electric Co, Inc., WFUV, NYC Culture, NYSCA, Time Out New York, Fatty Crew, New York City Department of Parks and Recreation and Ace Hotel.

Mad. Sq. Music is made possible in part with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a State Agency. Mad. Sq. Music is also supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.

2012 Oval Lawn Performers

June 20

James Maddock and Band I 7pm

James Maddock kicks off the 2012 Mad. Sq. Music: Oval Lawn Series. British-born and New York-based, Maddock effortlessly translates the aspirations and longing of his ever-growing legion of followers into song. Winning the NY Music Award for Best Americana Album for his 2010 release, Sunsrise on Avenue C and in the same year winning Best Debut Americana Vocalist, Maddock firmly establishes himself as a truly gifted singer-songwriter.

June 27

Gretchen Parlato I 6:30pm

Gretchen Parlato comes to the Oval Lawn with her sultry, intriguing voice and unique, rhythmically agile phrasing. Describing her style and versatility, The Boston Globe notes, “Her voice is a conflux where hope, sensuality and tragedy all merge…the most original jazz singer in a generation.” With her last release, The Lost and Found garnering the top spot on many of the year-end best of lists inclusive of Vocal Album of the Year from both the 2011 Jazz Critics Poll and iTunes Jazz charts, Parlato has emerged as a powerful vocalist and lyricist. Parlato has appeared on over 50 recordings with the likes of Terence Blanchard, Kenny Barron, Terri Lynn Carrington and Esperanza Spalding.

Gregory Porter

Following Parlato in this double-bill is 2011 Grammy nominee and jazz vocalist, Gregory Porter. With a voice that can caress or confront, embrace or exhort, Gregory Porter exhibits such incredible degree of vocal mastery that jazz luminary Wynton Marsalis has gone on record to call him “a fantastic young singer.” His 2010 release Water reflects the seasoned talents of the giants of blues, gospel and soul that have influenced Porter throughout his career. Born in Los Angeles, raised in Bakersfield, and now living in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn, Gregory Porter has made the world his musical home. His latest critically acclaimed release Be Good was released in February of this year.

July 4

Noam Pikelny and Friends I 3pm

Virtuosic banjo player Noam Pikelny headlines MSPC’s 10-year anniversary July 4 celebration with his band of friends including Alex Hargreaves, Aoife O’ Donovan (Crooked Still), Chris Eldridge (Punch Brothers) and Mark Schatz (Claire Lynch Band). Part of the acclaimed bluegrass group Punch Brothers and winner of the first Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass Music, Pikelny is, “a player of unlimited range and astonishing precision,” (Steve Martin).

The Sweetback Sisters

The Sweetback Sisters Emily Miller and Zara Bode may not be blood relations, but their precise, family-style harmonies recall the best of country music from the Everlys to The Judds, as well as the spirited rockabilly energy of Wanda Jackson, one of the band’s role models. Like the artists they admire, the Sweetbacks are concerned with the traditional subjects of heartbreak, revenge, remorse and staying strong in the face of relationships gone wrong, albeit with a contemporary sensibility. The Boston Globe says, “If you think the concepts of hipster Brooklynites and classic country music are mutually exclusive, allow us to introduce you to this swinging sextet. Fronted by the closely harmonizing duo of Zara Bode and Emily Miller, the zingy group is simultaneously reverent of tradition and contemporaneously cheeky.”

Spuyten Duyvil

“Spuyten Duyvil,” Dutch slang for “in spite of the devil” as well as the creek connecting the Harlem and Hudson Rivers, is a new band of eight old souls playing and singing their hearts out. Led by husband and wife duo Mark Miller (guitar, Bouzouki, vocals) and Beth Jamie Kaufman (vocals) they lean on the history, folklore and sounds of the last 100 years to craft an energetic bluesy, bluegrass, jug band, Old Timey influenced force. Featuring guitar, dobro, fiddle, mandolin and lap steel, harmonica, drums, bass and rich multi-part harmonies, Spuyten Duyvil is, “one of the best bands to emerge on the Americana scene in the last year,” (John Platt, WFUV).

July 11

Nellie McKay I 7pm

Nellie McKay is an American singer-songwriter, actor, and former stand-up comedienne, noted for her critically acclaimed albums. McKay has won a Theatre World Award for her portrayal of Polly Peachum in the Broadway production of The Threepenny Opera and performed onscreen in the film PS I Love You, as well as writing original music for the Rob Reiner film Rumor Has It and contributing to the New York Times Book Review. Her music has also been heard on the TV shows Weeds, Grey’s Anatomy, NCIS, Privileged and Nurse Jackie. Her music is as tuneful and clever as the best of the Great American Songbook part cabaret, part sparkly pop. “Ms. McKay has gone beyond the concept of covers or even interpretation and provided a model of how to re-contextualize old songs to tell a new story,” (Wall Street Journal).

July 18

Jeff “Tain” Watts Quartet I 7pm

Watts is a Grammy Award winner and one of the most in-demand jazz drummers in the world today. Along with explosive power, blinding speed and mastery of complex rhythms and time signatures, Watts brings a rare sense of elegance, tried-by-fire composure, and a gritty street funk to his music. Voted best drummer by Modern Drummer Magazine in 1988 and 1993, Watts is a true jazz innovator, never failing to deliver the percussive magic that has been his trademark since his emergence on the contemporary jazz scene.

July 25

Regina Carter’s “Reverse Thread” I 7pm

Carter’s most recent release Reverse Thread takes us through the world of hypnotically beautiful African folk melodies. Lauded as one of the finest violinists of her generation, Carter captures both the essence and allure of the original music through a lens of contemporary interpretation. To achieve the uplifting and stirring result, Regina added an accordion and kora– the West African harp traditionally played by village storytellers — to her longstanding rhythm section. Kora virtuoso Yacouba Sissoko was brought on board to help recreate the spirit of passing stories from generation to generation. The result — unlike anything previously heard — is a haunting and beautiful compliment to Regina’s sumptuously seductive violin.

August 1

An evening with Suzzy and Maggie Roche, Sloan Wainwright and Lucy Wainwright Roche I 6:30pm

Suzzy and Maggie Roche have been singing together for most of their lives. Together with sister, Terre, they formed The Roches and recorded ten albums, performed all over the US and Europe for over twenty years. In 1973, Maggie and Terre began an apprenticeship with Paul Simon singing backup for “There Goes Rhymin’ Simon,” Paul Simon’s second solo album. Simon eventually signed the group to a production company and produced a track on “Seductive Reasoning,” (1975) eventually leading to their debut album “The Roches”. Sloan Wainwright is “..a masterful amalgam of folk, rock, jazz, blues and an occasional tincture of funk, discovering her music is like finding a treasure,” (The Boston Globe). Hard to categorize, her musical style melds the best of pop, folk, jazz, and blues to create a soulful hybrid. Lucy Wainwright Roche, daughter of Suzzy Roche and Loudon Wainwright III, is an indie-folk singer-songwriter. With a refreshingly, pure voice, NPR has compared her to the likes of Joni Mitchell and Patti Griffin. The New York Music Awards named Lucy as the Best Debut Singer-Songwriter in 2010.

August 8

Bettye LaVette I 7pm

Bettye LaVette is an American singer-songwriter with a 2011 Grammy nomination for “Best Contemporary Blues Album.” In 2004, The Blues Foundation selected “A Woman Like Me” as “Blues Comeback Album of the Year,” and was the 2008 award winner for “Best Contemporary Blues Female Artist” at the Blues Foundation’s Blues Music Awards. She has been dedicated to the idiom since she was 16 years old, adopting the blues as her own and having been an unsung pioneer in the field of Rhythm and Blues. The New York Daily News reports, “Old soul stars sang hard… Miraculously, the latest work from vintage soul star Bettye LaVette finds her continuing to sing at the high end of that hard-living style. Her vocals come from so deep in the gut you could get a hernia just by listening. Yet LaVette’s rip-roaring instrument also remains beauteous to behold.”

About Madison Square Park Conservancy

The Madison Square Park Conservancy is the not-for-profit organization dedicated to keeping historic Madison Square Park a bright, beautiful and lively public park. The Conservancy works in partnership with the City of New York/Parks & Recreation to operate Madison Square Park and is responsible for raising all funds necessary to operate the park, including horticulture, park maintenance, sanitation, security and free cultural programs for park visitors of all ages.