This is the third full season for the concert series presented by The Hudson Riverfront Performing Arts Center. The "Center" is a group right now and not a facility, although they hope to raise money to build a concert venue on the waterfront.
On a warm summer night, what could be better than listening to live music on the water with views of Manhattan?
So, grab a blanket and get ready for the fabulous music at Lincoln Harbor Park.
Stefon Harris & Blackout
There are six bands scheduled to play. The music is diverse and covers many genres, starting with Stefon Harris, a jazz musician famous for his skill on the vibraphone.
According to Bruce Sherman, Executive Director of Hudson Riverfront Performing Arts Center, Harris's music has a wide appeal.
"The first time I saw Harris perform, he was giving a performance for children at the Jersey City Museum," said Sherman. "Not only is he a great musician, he is a wonderful performer."
For the past few years, Harris has been gaining attention from his latest album, Evolution, which features his hand picked group called Blackout.
Blackout members include: Casey Benjamin on alto sax, Marc Cary on keyboards, Darryl Hall on acoustic bass, and Terreon Gully on drums.
The group performed live in clubs in Manhattan before recording the album. Since its release they have toured extensively.
The music is jazz for a new generation, with an emphasis on innovative arrangements and a blend of melodies that converge into a sound that is all at once delicate, cool, and elevating.
According to Sherman, HRPAC picks diverse bands that they have previewed in a live setting.
"I try to present a series that is open to many different people," said Sherman. "You don't have to know precisely what is going on, but still enjoy the show."
With each new season the series has grown as the word spreads. There were over 3,500 people at the performances last summer.
An outdoor concert has a festival-like feeling that appeals to many different groups.
Many people made a night of the concerts last summer, packing a picnic dinner and drinks.
Quetzal, a California based band, will play their blend of Latin music, which fuses traditional Cuban rhythms with jazz, rock, and string instruments, on Wednesday, July 5.
Antigone Rising, the all-female rock band, is performing on Saturday, July 15.
Some of Europe's finest performers have joined together to play the music of the late Gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt. The Django Reinhardt All-Stars will play swing music and features guest vocalist Melba Joyce on Sunday, July 30.
Shirley Alston Reeves, the original lead singer of the Shirelles, will perform rock classics with her band on Wednesday, Aug. 16.
Closing the series this summer is Edmar Castaneda, an acclaimed jazz harpist, who will be joined by a Latin Jazz Ensemble on Saturday, Aug. 26.
The "Hudson Riverfront Performing Arts Center" is not an actual building yet, but a group that hopes to build such a facility on the Weehawken waterfront.
HRPAC is a nonprofit organization whose goal is to provide a center for the community that will produce year-round quality theater, dance and music in an intimate environment for reasonable prices.
Until the time that the center is built, the group holds free summer concerts.
In addition to the concert series, the group has brought educational programs to area schools.
"If you can share something young people have never seen before it is very heartening," said Sherman.
The free series was made possible by the generous support of the following groups and organizations: the township of Weehawken, the County of Hudson, the State of New Jersey, Hartz Mountain Industries, the Hudson Reporter, K. Hovnanian, Lennar Homes, New Jersey State Council on the Arts, New York Waterway, Palisades Medical Center, PSE&G, Roseland Property Company, Sheraton Suites on the Hudson, and UBS.
Lincoln Harbor Park is centrally located in Hudson County and is conveniently located close to public transportation.
Last summer, the crowds grew as more people heard about the series, with a few of the concerts drawing 1,000 people.
"What we were surprised to find is that people came from distances to see [the concerts]," said Sherman.
If all goes according to plan, the proposed performing arts center on the water could be open in 2008. Until that time, HRPAC will continue its mission to raise awareness of the arts and to encourage people to enjoy the free concerts by world class musicians.
"First of all, they should come for the performance," said Sherman, "and they should come for the experience. They will have a ball."
All concerts start at 7 p.m. Limited seating available, so bring a lawn chair or a blanket. Rain date is the following day for all shows. For more info: www.HRPAC.org or call (201) 716-4540. Sidebar: Summer Concerts in Weehawken:
Sat., June 24 Stefon Harris & Blackout, jazz
Wed., July 5 Quetzal, Cuban
Sat., July 15 Antigone Rising, rock
Sun., July 30 The Django Reinhardt All-stars, swing
Wed., Aug. 16 Shirley Alston Reeves, pop/rock
Sat., Aug. 26 The Edmar Castaneda Latin Jazz Ensemble
All concerts begin at 7 p.m. Rain dates will be the scheduled the following night. For updates, please call (201) 716-4540 or visit: www.hrpac.org.