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Schenectady's Music Haven Returns to Central Park for 2022!

Shemekia Copeland standing in front of a wall with old photos and newspaper headlines behind her.
Shemekia Copeland
Shemekia Copeland will perform at the Music Haven Stage in Schenectady's Central Park on 7/28, celebrating WEXT's 15 birthday.

Schenectady's free summer concert series, Music Haven, returns to Central Park for it's 32nd year, celebrating great music, local food, and cultural diversity. Picking up right where they left off, this season, organizers will look to once again expose concertgoers to a wide variety of sounds from across the world. Their ambitious comeback following a COVID mandated hiatus includes musical performances from both local and international artists.

“Given the domestic journeys we’ve endured for the last couple of years, I set my sights on curating an uplifting and unifying season of world class music and events,” says Producing Artistic Director, Mona Golub. “On top of a boisterous itinerary that includes sun splashed reggae, South Louisiana Zydeco, Balkan party music, harmony-driven bluegrass and more, I am thrilled to present Finnish folk music for the first time, to expand the Blues BBQ to a mini-festival, to welcome DakhaBrakha back for a tribute to Ukraine, and to screen Questlove’s award-winning musical documentary about the 1969 Harlem Cultural Fest in the company of neighbors and friends.”

This year it's not just music though. In August there will be a mini festival held celebrating the 1969 Harlem Cultural Fest accompanied by a screening of the acclaimed documentary, 'Summer of Soul'. Later in the month Will Kempe’s Players will perform their rendition of Shakespeare's, 'Comedy of Errors', which will conclude this fantastic summer concert series.

Music Haven shows are free to the public and open to all ages. Performances will be held at the Agnes Macdonald Music Haven Stage in Schenectady's Central Park. Shows start at 7p on Sundays, while times vary for concerts and festivals on other days of the week.

More information including a list of vendors, rainout location, and details about the ticketed Summer Social event can be found on the Music Haven website, Facebook page, or by calling 518-660-0675.

This year's lineup includes...

Sunday, July 10 | 7 - 9:30p
Steel Pulse wsg/ Aurelio
In the midst of today's strife and turmoil, Steel Pulse's twelfth studio release Mass Manipulation. Continues to define the magnificent power and beauty of reggae music. Reggae revolutionaries, Steel Pulse forty year legacy is revered by the younger generation of artists and remains a powerhouse on stages around the globe.

Singer-songwriter, guitarist and percussionist, Aurelio Martinez aka AURELIO, is a major tradition-bearer of the Garifuna culture and music and is considered a the Cultural Ambassador of the Garifuna nation.

Sunday, July 17 | 7 - 9:30p
Nathan & the Zydeco Cha Chas wsg/ The Brass Machine
Nathan Williams is the leader of the Zydeco Cha Chas. His stylings on the piano accordion have made him one of the most-admired players in the zydeco scene, following in Clifton Chenier's and Buckwheat Zydeco's huge footsteps. The music of Nathan and the Zydeco Cha-Chas is the expression of a remarkable South Louisiana family.

The Brass Machine provides a unique blend of hip hop, funk, and R&B, all in an infectious and energetic package.

Saturday, July 23 | 11a - 10p
Nippertown's first NipperFest celebrates our rich and diverse local arts and music scene. With local bands, food, craft beer, non-profits, and so much more, this family and pet friendly festival is fun for all. Inaugural acts include; The Figgs, Sirsy, Super 400, Girl Blue, Erin Harkes, Sawyer Fredericks, Sydney Worthley, Reese Fulmer, and many more!

Sunday, July 24 | 7 - 9:30p
Sammy Miller & the Congregation wsg/ SUNY Schenectady School of Music Faculty Jazz Combo
Sammy Miller and The Congregation are on a mission, crisscrossing the country like a vaudevillian revival show with evangelic fervor for music. The seven-piece band is pulling people out of their solitary lives and putting them in the moment with a bracing dose of joyful jazz performed with infectious theatricality. The New York City-based, familial collective has captured its frenetic energy and unflinchingly optimistic songwriting on its debut album, Leaving Egypt.

The Jazz Combo is a small group that performs bebop, cool, funk and other jazz styles. Emphasis is on solo improvisation and small group interaction.

WEXT's 15 Birthday Party
Thursday, July 28 | 5:30 - 9:30p
Blues BBQ feat. Shemekia Copeland w/ Matt Mirabile Band and Mark & Jill
Shemekia Copeland never holds back. Her instantly recognizable voice—capable of being sultry, assertive and roaring—delivers every song with unparalleled honesty and passion. Her wide-open vision of contemporary Americana roots and soul music showcases the evolution of a passionate artist with an up-to-the-minute musical and lyrical approach. With her new Alligator Records album, America’s Child, Copeland confidently announces an electrifying new chapter in her constantly evolving story.

Deeply rooted in Blues, Soul, R&B, and Funk, Matt Mirabile began performing at age twelve and quickly went from a being a young novelty player to a professional with nearly two decades of playing experience.

NY Blues Hall of Famer Mark Tolstrup and sultry Texas singer Jill Burnham come together to bring a fresh original interpretation to the earliest roots of the blues over a haunting slide guitar and soaring voices.

Sunday, July 31 | 7 - 9:30p
Lemon Bucket Orkestra wsg/ Golfstrom
Lemon Bucket Orkestra is JUNO award winning guerilla-punk-balkan-folk-brass band . Tracing their genesis back to the streets of Toronto, the original quartet of busking troubadours quickly amassed a battalion of like-minded musical souls and the full-blown, dozen plus strong Orkestra was born. The ensemble has been heralded as a groundbreaking, genre-bending phenomenon by the Canadian and international media alike.

Golfstrom performs an eclectic mix of 1930-60's folk and pop songs with origins ranging from Russia and France to Israel and Mexico.

Thursday, August 4 | 7 - 9:30p
DakhaBrakha — is world-music quartet from Kyiv, Ukraine. Reflecting fundamental elements of sound and soul, Ukrainian band DakhaBrakha, create a world of unexpected new music. Created in 2004 at the Kyiv Center of Contemporary Art by the avant-garde theatre director — Vladyslav Troitskyi. The band opens up the potential of Ukrainian melodies and to bring it to the hearts and consciousness of the younger generation in Ukraine and the rest of the world as well.

Sunday, August 7 | 7 - 9:30p
Spanish Harlem Orchestra wsg/ Alex Torres Y Sus Amigos
Now celebrating their 15th year, Spanish Harlem Orchestra, or SHO, as they are known to fans, is dedicated to the sounds of the barrio (Spanish Harlem NYC). They are on a mission to keep the musical legacy of salsa dura (hard salsa) alive and expand its audience to those who love great music, not just Latin music. Grounded in the past, while focused on the future, they strive to keep the music relevant, creating a unique and fresh approach.

Formed October 1980 in Amsterdam, NY, Alex Torres Y Sus Amigos is a 12 piece orchestra is led by the Bronx-born bassist. They have been invited to hundreds of festivals, performing arts centers and events to perform their original blend of Afro-Caribbean rhythms such as Salsa, Merengue, Cha-cha, Bomba, Plena and Latin Jazz.

WMHT Night
Saturday, August 13 | 7 - 9:30p
An Evening of Classical and Pops with the Schenectady Symphony Orchestra
Since 1979 the Symphony has performed most of its concerts in the historic Proctors Theater in downtown Schenectady. Recently the Schenectady Symphony Orchestra has been named as the Resident Symphony of the Proctors. In past years the Symphony has given outdoor Pops concerts at Union College and in Schenectady’s Central Park. The concert season consists of four concerts a year, plus a Children’s Concert, and most recently, a Mentoring Concert. The Schenectady Symphony Orchestra has become a valuable and treasured musical asset in the Capital District of New York State.

Sunday, August 14 | 7 - 9:30p
Steep Canyon Rangers wsg/ Nora Brown
Steep Canyon Rangers started in college at UNC-Chapel Hill, dove head first into bluegrass in its most traditional form. Discovered by Steve Martin, famous actor and banjo player, Martin took the Rangers on a nearly decade long tour introducing them to new fans. The band has continued to tour extensively on their own, without Martin, and have expanded their genre into country and Americana with the addition of a drummer, alongside an incredibly versatile bassist - to accompany the original core band.

Nora Brown plays old-time traditional music with a particular interest in eastern Kentucky and Tennessee banjo playing. Along with the banjo and guitar she also sings traditional unaccompanied ballads from southeast Appalachia and beyond.

Saturday, August 20 | 5 - 9p
'Summer of Soul' Documentary Screening
In his acclaimed debut as a filmmaker, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson presents a powerful and transporting documentary—part music film, part historical record created around an epic event that celebrated Black history, culture and fashion. Over the course of six weeks in the summer of 1969, just one hundred miles south of Woodstock, The Harlem Cultural Festival was filmed in Mount Morris Park (now Marcus Garvey Park). The footage was largely forgotten–until now. SUMMER OF SOUL shines a light on the importance of history to our spiritual well-being and stands as a testament to the healing power of music during times of unrest, both past and present. The feature includes concert performances by Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, Sly & the Family Stone, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Mahalia Jackson, B.B. King, The 5th Dimension and more. SUMMER OF SOUL premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, where it won both the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award.

Sunday, August 21 | 7 - 9:30p
Frigg wsg/ Alasdair Fraser & Natalie Haas
One of Finland’s hottest musical exports, the sizzling Nordic septet have carved themselves a top notch in folk with their heart-bursting, life-affirming, feelgood tunes and immaculate precision musicianship. Named after the Norse goddess of love and fertility, this exquisite lineup has been credited with creating their own captivating style of music — Nordgrass, fusing Nordic folk and American bluegrass.

Alasdair Fraser & Natalie Haas perform for audiences amazing musical explorations of cutting-edge fiddle and cello of traditional Scottish music with influences from many other parts of the world.

Friday, August 26 & Saturday, August 27 | 7 - 9:30p
Will Kempe’s Players present Shakespeare’s 'A Comedy of Errors'
Will Kempe’s Players is a regional theater cooperative from Troy, NY that produces a wide range of theatrical performance utilizing the methods used by William Shakespeare and his contemporaries. They aim to create quality experiences by promoting an inclusive creative environment and making Shakespeare’s works engaging and accessible to modern audiences while retaining historical authenticity.