A free opening-night concert with Patti LaBelle, a newly commissioned performance of Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On by an all-star, all-woman band, and shows by Liz Phair, Salif Keita and Bomba Estereo are on the lineup of the 41st annual BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival announced today (May 1).
The festival, staged at the bandshell in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park June 4 through Aug 10, has gained acclaim over the past four decades for reflecting both the diversity and international cultural reputation of its home borough in New York City.
With immigrants comprising nearly 40 percent of Brooklyn’s population, festivals bookings come from around the globe as well, from the U.S., the Caribbean, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and Europe. In addition to a richly curated lineup, this year’s season brings new food vendors and a new state-of-the-art sound system. The festival’s non-profit parent organization, BRIC, is the leading presenter of free cultural programming in Brooklyn.
“At the core of the festival’s DNA — and all of BRIC’s offerings in arts, media and education — is an overarching commitment to create programming that is inclusive, diverse and welcoming,” says BRIC president Kristina Newman-Scott. Jack Walsh, BRIC’s vp of performing arts and executive producer of the festival, calls this year’s lineup “as extraordinary and eclectic as ever.”
The French-Cuban-rooted IBEYI, slam poet and singer Tank and the Bangas, the collaboration of Calexico and Iron & Wine, experimental rock band Tortoise, Afro-Cuban jazz of Chucho Valdes and the righteous reggae of Protoje — are just a few of the performers booked for this season. The full festival lineup can be found here.
Of 29 announced performances, 25 are free (with a suggested $5 donation at the gate). The ticketed shows, which help support the festival, include The National with Courtney Barnett (June 12 and 13), Father John Misty with Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit and Jade Bird (June 19) and Mac DeMarco (Aug. 6).
The opening-night performance by LaBelle, presented by BET, will be preceded by Revel, described by festival organizers as “an immersive artist driven experience from day to dusk to dark,” hosted by actress, comedian and author Franchesca Ramsey (Comedy Central, MTV) and her husband Patrick Kondas, known for their podcast Last Name Basis, part of the BRIC Radio network. Revel is a fundraising benefit gala honoring BRIC’s outgoing board chair Hilary Ackermann. Designer Nanette Lepore is a the official fashion partner for the evening. A ticketed after-party will feature DJ Natasha Diggs.
Phair’s performance on June 29 is part of the American Express Women in Music Series; Amex is also a lead sponsor of the festival. Calexico and Iron & Wine performance on June 21 is part of the Bud Light Series (with that sponsor returning for its 17th year). Bomba Estero’s set on Aug. 10 is part of The Eventbrite Music Series.
The BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival is known for dance, movies and family events as well as concerts.
DJ Rich Medina will headline a family show on June 15. Dance ensembles include Compagnie Hervé Koubi on July 27 and Ailey II on Aug. 8. Films scheduled include a restored print of the 1925 classic Varieté with a live score by the Alloy Orchestra on July 20 and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon on Aug. 3. The latter will be part of Lou Reed Tai Chi Day featuring a demonstration by the late rock icon’s teacher, Ren Guang Yi.
The penultimate night of the festival on Aug. 9 will bring the performance of Gaye’s landmark concept album What’s Going On, originally released in 1971. Guitarist and bandleader Felicia Collins will lead an ensemble of artists including Toshi Reagon, Siedah Garrett, Kecia Lewis and an all-woman band, playing the album in its entirety.
The BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival is presented in partnership with New York’s Department of Parks and Recreation and the Prospect Park Alliance. Its media partners include WNET’s All Arts, WABC-TV, WNYC, WBGO and WFUV, with the latter planning several live broadcasts from the bandshell.