The Inside Scoop on Summer 2016 New York Music Festivals

New York Area Music Festivals are raking in the Doe Low

Strawberry Fields is the lane in New York City’s Central Park where John Lennon took his leisurely strolls in his last days, and likely reflected on “Imagine” as well as other works he had in progress at the time. Strawberry Fields is just across the park from the SummerStage bandshell which over the years has displayed a multitude of diverse and celebrated artists.  SummerStage is one of the biggest music festivals in NYC, running from June into September. In the past I have the privilege to have seen such giants as Lou Reed, Sonic Youth, Yoko Ono, as well as John Zorn with his jazz ensemble Masada. I also caught the swan songs of Sun Ra and John Cage there. John Cage played SummerStage some short weeks before his final recital in Brooklyn before he passed.

Below I list a number of music festivals in the NYC area with a touch of commentary. In NY there is something for everyone.


1.The Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival
Brooklyn has always been a key location for Hip Hop. Such artist as Jay Z, Big Daddy Kane, and Foxy Brown are from Brooklyn. But for this event that runs from July 13 to July 16 you’re going to need some ducats. This year the shows will be at Medgar Evers College and at DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass). Tickets vary with packages. General admission for that Saturday is $40 and climb well above a C note for these events.  Over the year many these festivals have made the paradigm shift from being free or very inexpensive causal events to Ritzy money-making galas which is outside of the budget of many a music fan.

2.The 4 Knots Festival in Manhattan

Sponsored by the Village Voice the 4  Knots Festival is FREE!! It is a one day event at the South Street Seaport located on the Manhattan side of NY harbor with a beautiful nautical view of the skyline. The peer is lined with affordable to extravagant seafood restaurants, many with lovely outdoor seating. One year through serendipity I caught the New York Dolls at this festival. As much as I like ‘70s glam rock, the NYD didn’t do anything until I saw them live and was able to appreciate them. The festival is one day, Saturday July 9 from 1pm to 8pm. There will be 2 stages.

3.The Northside Music Festival in Williamsburg Brooklyn

This runs from June 6 to June 12. The Northside Festival has been a huge community event involving not just venues but record stores, restaurants and other local business. The whole neighborhood becomes a street fair for about a week.  The price of admission varies but discount badges can be purchased at a good price. Since the 1990s the Williamsburg neighborhood has been haven for the artist community, fostering many Indie bands. Over 400 acts are featured this year.

4. BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn Festival

Located at Brooklyn’s Prospect Park bandshell, the Celebrate Brooklyn Festival generally runs from June into August.  This festival has been going on for decades. Most of the shows are free with a suggested donation; but a few acts demand a premium price for admission. In past I’ve seen Brooklyn’s hometown heroes They Might Be Giants. This year I am going to check one of my favorites, the Violent Femmes on June 18 and Herbie Hancock has a benefit concert there on August 11.

5. Central Park SummerStage

This year the festival is from May to September 23.  On June 4 pianist McCoy Tyner and bassist Ron Carter perform in Tyner’s Quartet. This year also features Barenaked Ladies along with Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark and Howard Jones on June 13. Blink 182 plays on July 1  at 7am for GMA. The Go-Go’s  will have their Farewell Tour  at SummerStage on August 13.  Tickets for these events start at $50. As I said before, there was a time when the events were free but I guess the Frisbee and hacky sack players on the lawn all got priced out replaced by stuffed shirts.

6. The Iggy Pop Festival

When I saw this I had to include it. It is one night, July 2 starting at 8:30 pm at the Lucky 13 Saloon in Brooklyn. It is a Free Iggy tribute show featuring a dozen bands. The Lucky 13 Saloon is a hard rock dive that features waitress that pole dance. The Iggy Pop Festival, I love it, only in Brooklyn!  Anywhere else you would have to wait for a memorial tribute, but don’t hold your breath, Iggy will bury us all.




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