Celebrate Brooklyn! at the Prospect Park Bandshell is one of many free summer concert venues in NYC. They always have a great line-up – rain or shine. Last night rtb and I got the rain but it was worth it.
While on line to get in they were asking us to open our bags and take our donations out. This freaked out the woman behind me who kept saying that she thought the concert was free and apparently doesn’t understand the concept of donation. This Onion article describes her perfectly.
rtb and I got good seats near the sound board, got some good food from The Farm on Adderly, and settled in. Austin-born Sarah Jarosz is only 24 but is already famous among bluegrass and Americana music circles. She started with two songs on the banjo and her voice took me straight to Appalachia. Then she switched over to guitar where her songs melodically sounded like Janis Ian (not lyrically, although they were sad songs) and her voice took a more folk/indie sound. Jarosz covered Bob Dylan (“Ring Them Bells”), Cat Stevens (“The Wind”), and Simon & Garfunkel (“Kathy’s Song”). For her encore, Sara Watkins and Aiofe O’Donovan joined her on stage for an a cappella song, which was just beautiful. Jarosz would be an amazing artist no matter what her age.
The rain started just before Americana band the Punch Brothers got on stage. It poured, it thundered, and it lightninged but it wasn’t enough to make us leave. Everyone was on their feet and dancing. The rain did eventually let up and we were rewarded with a longer than usual encore. Paul Kowert (bass), Chris Eldridge (guitar), Noam Pikelny (banjo), Gabe Witcher (fiddle/drums), and Chris Thile (mandolin) are all excellent musicians. There were many instrumentals, where each showed off. Thile shreds the mandolin and I thought he was going to have bleeding fingers like Pete Townshend. They played the favorite “Rye Whiskey” near the beginning of the set. Newer songs have a more classical feel, while staying rooted in Americana. They covered Radiohead’s “2+2=5,” which was a request. The first time I saw the Punch Brothers at Prospect Park back in 2011, I wasn’t overly impressed. But they have stepped up their game and totally brought me over to their side.
By Carene Lydia Lopez